A Worm’s-eye View
In his latest column for The Indian Express, P Chidambram points out how there is still fear of spending among the people. He also explains how bankers are apprehensive to lend, highlighting that smaller industries are still not operating at 100 percent capacity. Chidambaram focuses on how larger businesses have had to cut back capital expenditure and how the return of quantitative restrictions and high tariffs have become a problem for free trade.
However, there is no confidence among borrowers. The Tiruppur garment industry is producing at 30 per cent of capacity. Job work units are working at 60 per cent of capacity. A hardware merchant, cement dealer or tyre dealer struggles with a turnover of 20 per cent of normal in order to keep his dealership. The potential borrower is worried he would not be able to repay the loan. If he has his own money, he ploughs it into the business; if not, he is content to operate at lower capacity.
Letter to Gandhi: Mandir will be built, but who will build Ramrajya?
Sagarika Ghosh pens a letter to Gandhi on how prime minister Narendra Modi likened the Ram Mandir movement to the freedom struggle. She writes in The Times of India, asking the father of the nation of what he would have perceived of the entire situation and would he have approved of this saffron mobilisation in Lord Ram’s name. She highlights how all the dazzle of the Ram Mandir is blinding people from the ideal of Ramrajya: compassion, justice and love.
How different the government’s grand bhoomi pujan was from your own prayer meetings. Yours were spartan, mostly held outdoors, and always multi-faith with readings from the Gita, the Quran, Bible and Zend Avesta. You hardly ever visited temples nor were you pictured with any deity or seen conducting rituals. Today, politicians perform the rituals of religion, but do they care about the values of religion? It would be unfortunate if the dazzle of a Ram Mandir blinded us to the ideals of Ramrajya: compassion, justice, love.
Amar Singh and his unusual generosity, writes Karan Thapar
While talking about how he wasn’t impressed the first time he met Amar Singh, Karan Thapar points out in his Hindustan Times piece how there are few people who have been greater help and more generous. Thapar talks about Singh’s overall demeanour and reminisces the numerous times he interviewed him. He rues that he did not get to meet Singh in the last few years but remembers him as a kind man.
I can’t think of any other person who would have taken upon himself the task of repairing my relationship with Chandra Shekhar. There was nothing in it for Amar Singh. In fact, I never found out why he did it but he was visibly pleased each time I repeated the story.Sadly, we did not meet in the last few years. Our paths did not cross. But I’ll always remember him as a kind man who went out of his way to help virtual strangers. That’s a quality that can forgive a lot of faults.
With the bhoomi pujan in Ayodhya, India must reckon with the new reality of the country that it has ushered into being, writes Mukul Kesavan in his piece for The Telegraph. Kesavan points out how people apart from professional politicians have voiced their opinions for a temple dedicated to Ram in Ayodhya. He also highlights how the razing of the Babri Masjid and the raising of the Ram Temple are issues that liberals, socialists, progressives and decent constitutionalists are not able to digest.
It isn’t just professional politicians who have been converted to the temple’s cause. Pavan Varma, writer, diplomat and erstwhile spokesperson of the Janata Dal (United), has written recently of his exasperation with the carping of liberals about building the Ram temple at Ayodhya after the dispute had been definitively resolved by the Supreme Court. Another progressive notable likes to tell of the time a plain-spoken citizen from Haryana set him right on the Ram Mandir when he asked, rhetorically, that if a Ram temple wasn’t to be built in Ayodhya, where was it to be built, in London?
Dear Sundar Pichai: There’s a Lot You Take on When You Take on the Task of Digitising India. Here are a Few Pointers
Google CEO Sundar Pichai has said that his company will be investing 10 billion dollars in India in the coming years. Bhaskar Chakravorti, in his piece for The Indian Express, lists some of the key areas where Google needs to focus its investment. Chakravorti also elaborates how India still struggles with the problem of misinformation on the internet and how the search engine giant can offer data governance guidance to Indian lawmakers.
With 650 million internet users, there is a lot of data richness already, but it exists without a forward-looking and inclusive data governance policy in place. The experience with the contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu, provided a perfect case study on the discomfort within India because of the absence of such governance. Initially, the app was mandatory for office workers and when concerns mounted, it was made “advisable”, only to be mandated through the back door. Perhaps, Google can learn from its many entanglements with data governance rules elsewhere and offer data governance guidance to Indian lawmakers and avoid new entanglements down the road.
Far, Far From Ram Rajya
Since the old BJP promise to ‘rectify a historical wrong’ has been fulfilled it’s now time to get back to address the more modern problems of the country, writes Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express. She writes on how the economy is in dire straights and how the efforts from the government are still not enough to pull them out of this precarious situation. Tavleen Singh touches upon the bad state of Kashmir’s economy and talks about the need for the government to re-think its financial strategies.
But, let us return to present times. The political problems that the Prime Minister has yet to deal with are every bit as serious as the economic problems. The consecration of the temple in Ayodhya happened (by coincidence?) on the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370. The abrogation had become necessary, we were told, to bring progress and prosperity to the former state of Jammu & Kashmir and to end the activities of jihadi secessionist groups.
Forgiveness Liberates You, Not Them
Pooja Bedi in her latest piece for The Times of India writes about how a person’s response to broken relationships, rejection and self-hate can define their journey in life. Citing examples from her own personal life, she takes out time to offer some relationship advice and elaborates how it’s important to adopt change and let go of toxic relationships.
As I grew and changed, so did the relationships. Science says that every 7 years we replace all the cells in our body, which means that every 7 years you are energetically a very different being. This is why so many relationships and marriages are considered “dead” with couples saying the cause is because the other ‘changed’. What they find hard to accept is that they too changed, and that change is constant, inevitable and important to growth. You can grow together or grow apart, but grow you will… and grow you must!
Cause, Matches Are Not Made in Heaven
Reality web series, Indian Matchmaking, on Netflix has drawn a lot of criticism on promoting class bias and perpetuating a regressive idea of marriage. Leher Kala writes in The Indian Express how the show’s protagonist, Sima Aunty, has a simple formula for an arranged marriage and how even today that system is being marketed as a business model. Kala points out how the quest for the equal partnership comes with tolerance and people should not jump into getting married if they are not ready.
This spouse hunt must be equally tough on the parents. Right when you think your responsibilities are over comes the deflating truth — that offsprings can be a pain for a lot longer than one envisioned. Indian parents are over-invested in their children’s lives so when they see a manchild lurking about lonesome, they feel compelled to set it right. Indian Matchmaking rings true because the families are shown in unflattering detail with a specter of loss permeating the atmosphere. The show nudges us to consider Sima Aunty’s suggestion to a candidate, to keep her own limitations in mind before writing men off too fast. The word ‘compromise’ was used. Perhaps it needed to be couched in millennial parlance: occasionally, we all have to suck it up. It is far easier to denounce sensible advice as sexist misogyny than examine the nuances within.
#ChallengeAccepted: Much More than Meets the Eye
Akanksha Khullar, writing for the Deccan Herald, sheds some light on the #ChallengeAccepted movement on social media and how in the past there have been other instances where people have leveraged Instagram to in support for a cause. She explains how it is a digital manifestation of the feminist movement and not an opportunity for women to advertise their beauty, as being perceived by many.
With these diverse perceptions and aims, the movement is doing its best to spread positivity on social media, creating a safe space for women to talk about the challenges they face and promote women empowerment. The movement, therefore, might not be something new but it has definitely added value to women’s cause. Moreover, given the COVID-19 context, where methods of mass protests are few, digital feminist movements like #ChallengeAccepted are extremely important in bringing greater awareness about how women are bearing a disproportionate burden during the pandemic.
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