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

Statue Debate Is Giving Us a More Rounded History Lesson

Even though the conversation around Sardar Patel’s Statue of Unity is driven by contemporary politics and tut-tutting of aesthetics, it has finally steered a discourse, one that was a long time coming, on our Indian history, writes Swapan Dasgupta in his Sunday column for The Times of India.

In addition to discussing Nehru-Patel schism — great might-have-been chapters of recent history — Dasgupta writes, that this revisionism, not restricted by a consistent political narrative, has led us to revisit events of paramount significance for Indians dating back to 1918.

“Wittingly or otherwise, Modi’s celebration of his heroes is prompting a more rounded appreciation of India’s history. From medieval vandalism and Tipu Sultan’s excesses to the complexities of the colonial experience and freedom struggle, Indians are realising that history is much more than what politically correct textbooks revealed.”

The Day of Reckoning

The government and the central bank are a team in a three-legged race; they either run together or fall down, writes P Chidambaram in his Sunday column for The Indian Express.

He explains that why government eyeing RBI reserves worth Rs 3.6 lakh crores, a topic that has caused much heartburn to economists in the last one week, is a bad idea. The country has far more pressing concerns, Chidamabaram writes.

Ergo, the sensible course for the government and the RBI is to put aside the issue of reserves.

“It is not difficult for both to agree on a course of action concerning liquidity for NBFCs, revision of PCA norms, forbearance in the case of selected sectors (like power) burdened by NPAs, generous credit to MSMEs, etc. Each one is simply a matter of numbers and finding optimal solutions. However, if the government is intent on ‘fixing’ the capital framework of the RBI, then its motives are dishonest. The inescapable conclusion will be that the government’s aim is to force Dr Urjit Patel to resign, appoint a pliant Governor, and convert the RBI into a conventional Board-managed company. That is why I had said that November 19 will be a day of reckoning for central bank independence and the Indian economy.”

Lanka Dahan

Owing to its recent tumultuous political chain of events, Sri Lanka has found itself in the centre of unprecedented crisis. In his column for The Indian Express, Meghnad Desai has dubbed it as a constitutional crisis, something impossible for India.

One of the problems of Sri Lanka, as Desai explains, is that while it has a high Human Development score, it is divided. Unlike India, the island nation did not see a mass movement for independence. After 25 years of civil war, Mahinda Rajapaksa was the ruthless President who finally vanquished the Tamil rebellion.

“There is no knowing how the crisis would resolve itself. For a country which has been perhaps the most violent in South Asia, one can only hope that resolution would be peaceful. But a peaceful outcome would be unlikely. South Asia has been the home of religions preaching nonviolence but its politics has been very violent. There have been regional disputes, competing nationhoods as well as communal conflicts. Or just plain, mindless violence.”

Much in a Name

Gopalkrishna Gandhi, in his column for The Telegraph, traces the journey of name Ashoka - meaning one without sorrow - and how it has been ubiquitously used by generations of Indians who named their sons and daughters after a legend.

This name has been given to a rock inscription dating back to 1915, Republic of India’s national emblem, socialist, physicist, film stars, former PM Indira Gandhi’s chief economic advisor in the past but, Gandhi notes that the name has lost its appeal.

“Ashok, as a name, is now passe. This is not said statistically but impressionistically. The school in New Delhi where I studied in the 1950s had many Ashoka in it. My own class of some thirty has three, one of them, one of them, Ashok Dilwali, being one of India’s greatest photographers today. In the class of a hundred where I teach today, there is not one Ashok. Nor, for that matter, in the university itself — of 1,400 students.”

An Enjoyable Route to Discover India

On his quest to find traces of an American Gandhian named RR (Dick) Keithahn from Bengaluru to Madurai, Ramachandra Guha in his Sunday column for Hindustan Times, lets you know that the most exciting and enjoyable way to be Indian is to hit the road and get to know India.

“I soaked in the landscape with pleasure. But, truth be told, I was not in rural Tamil Nadu as a tourist. I was in search of the traces of an American Gandhian named RR (Dick) Keithahn, who had lived in the region from the 1930s to the 1980s. Keithahn came originally as a missionary; however, he soon converted to India and to Indian ways.”

An Anglo-Saxon Name for a City isn’t Unusual

In his Sunday column for Hindustan Times, Karan Thapar dissects why names matter to Yogi Adityanath, especially the ones with Muslim connections like Allahabad, Faizabad and Mughalsarai. Thapar opines that they sound discordant to his ears.

“So what’s my conclusion: call them Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru in Marathi, Bengali and Kannada but let’s accept Bombay, Calcutta and Bangalore when we speak in English. Would this logic work for the Yogi? I doubt it. He’s not just correcting an anglicised pronunciation, he’s come up with new name altogether. And here, I suspect, the important thing is to get away from any earlier Muslim association.”

What’s the Difference Between a Patriot and a Fraud Nationalist?

Who is a fraud nationalist and who is a patriot? Aakar Patel got his answer this week while watching Thor: Ragnarok and, in his column for The Times of India, writes that the movie has a lesson for all of us.

Patel points out that in India, our feral nationalism is concentrated on an imagined India and does not accommodate other Indians. The idea of nation, according to this notion, is abstract and ignorant.

“Our nationalism is exclusively about the land and the imagery of the motherland. It does not even accommodate culture. Attacking the ban on singer T M Krishna from performing in Delhi, Ramachandra Guha wrote that “Krishna carries the true greatness of Indian culture and Indian civilisation in himself and in his art.” That is, in the India of our time, not an acceptable substitute for slogan shouting, which alone is the vocabulary of nationalism. It is remarkable but it is true. Ultimately, love for one’s nation must mean love for its people, because a nation is its people. If you don’t understand that you’re not really a patriot and you’re a fraud nationalist.”

Anti-Indian Music?

Indian governments have a long, ugly tradition of banning books, films, authors and artistes and it is always a bad idea, writes Tavleen Singh, in her Sunday column for The Indian Express.

“Writers, artists and musicians have long been targeted by Hindutva goons. But, in the past four years, these fanatics have been more active than usual because they believe they have a Hindutva government in office. They are easily enraged. So when I tweeted my support for Guha’s position on the cancelled concert, I was immediately attacked by trolls, who said I should write about the people demonised by the “tukde, tukde gang” in JNU. I have done and will continue to write against anyone who attempts to ban books, films or concerts.”

Government Must Ensure Private Sector Autonomy

This week in his Sunday column for the Hindustan Times, Mark Tully writes about the perils of incursions in the public sector. He states examples of LIC and Indian railways and that such decisions are always taken to save the government of the day.

“Nobody knows how much government money must be wasted by political interference in the government corporations and boards in states in all these years.”

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Bus to Pakistan, From China Via PoK: Why is India Worked Up?

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