Sunday View: The Best Weekend Opinion Reads, Curated Just For You

The Moot Question: Who Will Guard the Guardians?

“The fundamental question being asked in India today is where does the power to prevent misuse lie,” writes Mark Tully, in his column for Hindustan Times.

He discusses how politicians in power trespass on non-elected institutions’ autonomy, how institutions in India are failing to hold power to account and how officials of those non elected institutions are misusing their autonomy.

"It is often thought that governments and politicians are entirely to blame for the failures of the checks and balances because of their trespassing on non-elected institutions’ autonomy. The current banking crisis is being blamed on politicians telephoning bankers and instructing them to lend without adequate security. But the blame must also fall on those bankers who allowed the autonomy they enjoyed to be trampled on. The CBI crisis has been caused by allegations that some officers within the organisation have misused their autonomy, sadly not an uncommon happening.   "Across the Aisle: Power Lies in Non-Use

P Chidambram, in his column for The Indian Express writes that the power of Section 7 of the Reserve Bank of India Act lies in its “non-use.” He further points out the scope of section 7 and the ideal way in which the government should have invoked the law.

Chidambram discusses the fault lines faced by the government. These include the liquidity situation of the NBFCs, erosion of capital of public sector banks and the need to open a “special window” in order to give credit to small and medium industries suffering because of demonetisation, GST and the recent NBFC crises.

"Compounding the government’s misery is the growing gap between budgeted revenues and actual receipts. Having failed to ‘gain’ even a rupee out of demonetisation (the boast was Rs 400,000 crore), the government has cast its eye on the reserves of the RBI. It is believed that the government asked the Governor to transfer Rs 100,000 crore in order to finance the budgeted expenditure and to meet the targeted fiscal deficit. It is believed that the Governor flatly refused. This is the spark that is about to light the powder keg.   "

Out of My Mind: The Leadership Principle

Calling Sardar Vallabhai Patel “the architect of Congress as the most successful election fighting machine devised,” Meghnad Desai, in his piece for The Indian Express draws parallels between Nehru’s politics, Indira Gandhi’s and that of Narendra Modi’s. He writes about the “leader syndrome” and how politicians in both Indira Gandhi’s cabinet, as well as in that of Modi’s look lackluster when juxtaposed again the powerful presence of their chiefs.

Desai also discusses Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi’s present day politics and how “being the leader means the leader of all and guardian of law, not just the party faithful.”

"Far from being weak, this one-issue campaign has proved effective for Rahul. Instead of asking how the Congress would solve the challenging problems facing India (which would mean admitting the possibility of the BJP losing power), the BJP returns the compliment by attacking Rahul personally. This works for the Congress president as it makes him the news. This is also why the only issue preventing a grand alliance is the issue of Kaun Banega Pradhan Mantri.   "

1992 and Now: How the Ram Mandir Battle is Different

“To project Hindu self-assertion by the parameters of an earlier era would be a miscalculation,” writes Swapan Dasgupta, in his piece for the Times of India. While he criticises the Supreme Court for deferring the Ram maunder decision “to well beyond the general election of 2019,” he also says that it does not make sense to assume that the “present muddle” would cause a repeat of 1992.

"First, there has been a profound shift in the mood. Earlier, along with the Ram temple movement, there was a simultaneous battle to secure the recognition of Hindus as a distinct political entity, perhaps as an alternative to the surfeit of ‘minorityism’. Today, that battle has been resoundingly won. While there is a residual sense of victimhood, there is also a clear understanding in mainstream politics that Hindu sentiments can neither be disregarded nor offset by creating a coalition of minorities. ‘Secular fundamentalism’ built on the assumption that the Hindu voice can be taken for granted is politically unworkable today.   "No Definite Article in Indic Culture

“This concept of THE Truth, with definitive article, with capitalisation, comes to us from the west, from Abrahamic religions,” explains Devdutt Pattanaik, in his piece for The Economic Times. He describes, how in the Hindu tradition, there is “infinite truth” ie Satya in place of a definite truth. He states that facts changing is akin to measuring instruments refining themselves.

"As more data is unearthed, interpretations change. Thus our knowledge expands and we make our journey towards infinite knowledge, which in Hindu tradition is the ultimate truth, the closest equivalent of the Western definitive of absolute Truth.In Hindu tradition, each one of us contains divinity within (jiva-atma) that gives us access to a slice (bhag) of infinite reality.   "

Don’t Hail Patel as the Great Unifier, He’s a Flawed Hero

In his column, for the Times of India, Swaminathan Aiyar discusses the blunders made by Sardar Vallabhai Patel. Calling him “an architect of Partition,” Aiyer writes “to hail him as a Great Unifier is surely an exaggeration.” Aiyer also points out that had Kashmir actually joined Pakistan, the human and financial cost of India-Pakistan wars would have be greatly diminished.

"British India had 584 princely states, mostly with Hindu majorities. Patel persuaded over 500 of these to accede to India. For this he is called the Great Unifier. However, Pakistan also succeeded in integrating all Muslim-majority princely states, despite lacking a Patel. The princes acceded because they knew they faced military takeover if they resisted, a fate that befell Kashmir and Hyderabad. Unification of the princely states with India and Pakistan was inevitable, with or without Patel.   "Once Congress Had Lawyers Like Gandhi

Ramchandra Guha, in his column for Hindustan Times, draws a comparison between lawyers who were a part of Congress in and around the freedom movement, and the practitioners in the party today.

Writing about lawyers like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Mahatama Gandhi “who abandoned a prosperous legal practice to work full time” for the benefit of their countrymen, Guha calls out Congress leaders advocating in courts practices their own party rejects constitutionally. He mentions specifically Congressmen serving as counsel for the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and Travancore Devasom Board (TDB), both of which are organizations “implacably opposed to equal rights for women.”

"One would have absolute respect for Congress ex-ministers and serving MPs if they either (a) entirely gave up private practice and focused on politics; (b) entirely gave up politics and focused on private practice. One would respect them too, if they remained in politics and took up only those briefs that resonated with the values and ideals of the Constitution their party claims to uphold. Yet, where the likes of Rajaji went back to the Bar to fight for equal rights for Dalits, the Congress lawyers of today appear repeatedly on behalf of groups that seek to deny women equal rights.   "Rhetoric and Reality

“AU shouldn’t have offered Guha a professorship in Modi’s Gujarat if it wasn’t willing to stare the ABVP and its patrons down,” writes Mukul Kesavan in his column for Telegraph India.

He sheds light on how historian Ramchandra Guha’s appointment to the Ahmedabad University was subsequently cancelled around the time the ABVP sent a letter to the university vic’s vice chancellor threatening a “radical movement” if that did not happen. Kesavan, in his piece, condemns the impact that “a bullying state” can have on private universities.

"The truth is that the financial and administrative autonomy of private universities in no defense against the bulling State. The sponsors and founders of ambitious private university are, inevitably, businessmen. Few of them have the fortitude or commitment that Azim Premji has displayed in his funding of educational institutions. In some ways private universities are less hospitable places than their public counter-parts for the defence or cultivation of free speech.   "

Kohli & Co: Swagger is No Substitute for Success

Elite athletes tend to live in a bubble,” writes Soumya Bhattacharya for The Hindustan Times.

Comparing the performance on foreign soil of the Indian cricket team under Kohli with that of the team under Ganguly or Dhoni, Bhattacharya points out that the success rate in not matching the attitude and the intensity put forth by the present skipper and his team.

"The margins are fine in elite sport. Every team has to seize the moment. The ability to discern a turning point, win it, and change the narrative of a game to one’s advantage is the hallmark of all great teams. This current India team has consistently failed to do that, in match after match, outside Asia.   " . Read more on India by The Quint.RSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand DeathsSunday View: The Best Weekend Opinion Reads, Curated Just For You . Read more on India by The Quint.