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

The Quint’s compilation of the best op-eds for your Sunday reading. Sit back with a cup of chai and enjoy. 

Blowing in the Wind: A Modi Victory in UP

In the wake of the BJP's success in the local elections in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chandigarh, Faridabad and Odisha, Swaminathan Aiyar, in The Times of India, explains why he believes Narendra Modi will win in Uttar Pradesh. Local politics is not local anymore; a national wind blows through the country, he says. While critics and liberals denounce Modi, he has captured the high moral ground with the masses, writes Aiyar.

At the grassroots, local issues usually dominate. But once in a while a national wind blows everything else away. That wind today is Narendra Modi. His national sweep in 2014 was followed by electoral disasters in state elections in Delhi and Bihar in 2015. The Modi wind seemed to be dying. But it has revived with a vengeance.  Demonetisation (or DeMo) last November was berated by critics as a human and economic disaster, and even as despotic (by Amartya Sen). They gleefully awaited a voter revolt. The very opposite has happened. After DeMo, the BJP has swept local elections across India.  

Statistics Is Growth: Let's Eat Statistics

Bringing back into minds a question that the common man seems to have forgotten, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram decodes whether or not demonetisation affected economic growth. As the financial year nears its end, he says that the projected growth rates don’t answer this pertinent question. Writing for his column in The Indian Express, he questions the government’s reluctance to publish data on the outcome of demonetisation.

Growth is best captured by numbers reflecting greater investment, higher production and more jobs. While the GVA/GDP data may have sprung a surprise, many other indicators point to an economy that is not investing more, not producing more and not creating more jobs. Compare the GVA growth numbers in Q3 of 2015-16 and Q3 of 2016-17. In the Mining, Manufacturing, Construction, Trade/ Hotel/ Transport/ Communication and Financial Services sectors, the GVA growth number has declined sharply in 2016-17.

Fifth Column: Anti-National Nationalism

Nationalism can never be imposed by fiat, Tavleen Singh opines, as the Ramjas row continues to breathe fire. In her column for The Indian Express, she writes that even though most Indians are very proud of the country, nationalism won’t have to be imposed if the governments just work towards providing people with improved public services. She also denounced how certain students with “very defunct ideas” were made heroes, but adds that they were in no way anti-nationals.

It is my view that nobody has the right to decide who is a nationalist and who is not, but the two can play the game. So let me make it clear that I believe anyone who seeks to crush dissent and free speech on university campuses is anti-national. They sully India’s image with their hysteria. And they have breathed new life into aged Leftists who have been mercifully inactive for a while. To see them lead a student march last week bearing placards saying ‘their’ democracy was more important than ‘your’ nationalism, made me laugh, because nobody is more allergic to democracy than those of the Communist persuasion. Besides, nationalism and democracy are not antonyms.

Out of My Mind: Political Economics

In his column for The Indian Express, Meghnad Desai, bats in support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his move to demonetise. He feels rational debate in India has become difficult today as anything Modi does is perceived as bad, fascist and dictatorial. Hitting out at the Opposition, he says public discourse from political platforms has become “fantasy news.”

It is because politicians and journalists have no knowledge of the daily lives of the mass of people that they exaggerated what they saw. The poor queue up, find things are not available, suffer losses all the time. The novelty was that the better off had to queue up. Since Manmohan Singh’s neo-liberal reforms, queues have vanished for the middle classes. Suddenly they were thrown together with the poor. Hence the anguish.

Demonetisation Has Not Diminished BJP's or Modi's Popularity

With the results of state elections nearing, Karan Thapar in Hindustan Times, explains how local elections have shown that demonetisation hasn’t affected Modi’s charisma even a bit. Instead, the Opposition which continually lashed out at the prime minister’s move, has now seen dismal defeat, he writes.

In fact, what we’ve seen in Maharashtra and Orissa was earlier witnessed in the November Gujarat local bodies and Lok Sabha bypolls, the December Chandigarh civic polls, the January Maharashtra municipal council elections and the February Uttar Pradesh legislative council polls. The BJP, effectively, won them all. Doesn’t this mean voters have been tested in several states, in different elections, at different times, and on each occasion demonetisation hasn’t damaged the party’s performance?

Don't Blame Rahul Gandhi for Congress' Decline

Congress should do more than just playing supporting cast to other parties, writes Chanakya in Hindustan Times. The party which has such an illustrious lineage should focus on rebuilding its base in states where it was once a formidable presence. Right now, it’s just building an illusion of staying in power by hitching its wagon to politically ascendant forces in states, reads the column.

It is no use blaming Rahul Gandhi and his lack of leadership for it. It is no use saying that had Priyanka stepped into the fray things would be different. The problem is that the Congress has no alternative narrative to offer, it has long ceased to be proactive. It confines itself to reacting to the actions of others, notably the BJP. It is unable to pick up one issue and run with it. It has not come up with the big idea in ages.

Why Viru Has a Right to Be Wrong About Gurmehar

As the debate over freedom of speech grips the nation once again, Amit Varma in The Times of India, examines what free speech actually means. After the massive protests in Delhi University and the controversy around it, several big names including cricketer Virender Sehwag voiced their opinion. And Varma explains what the right to do so entails.

If people have a right to free speech, though, it doesn’t mean that all free speech is right. Virender Sehwag had a right to mock Gurmehar Kaur for her courageous video earlier this week, just as I have a right to find his mockery tasteless, and my friendly troll has a right to call me names for it. We all have a right to be wrong, including the trolls who try to have a chilling effect on free speech with their constant abuse. The truth is, only the government can shut down free speech, and even trolls have a right to abuse. (Do note that Twitter would also be within its rights to ban trolls, who are using their property after agreeing to certain terms of use.)

Moral of a Lady Oriented Film: CBFC Under Nihalani Has Become Victorian, He Should Read Some Hindu Mythology

As the film certification board of India once again creates controversy with its words and actions, Pawan Verma in The Times of India, writes to reiterate how Indian culture never shied away from sensuality. He pulls out the many instances in Hindu mythology has puts things into perspective. He takes on the Central Board of Film Certificationn (CBFC) for denying certification to Prakash Jha’s film Lipstick Under My Burkha for being “lady-oriented.”

Our sages knew how to put sensuality in the right perspective. [...] It was our colonial masters who considered Indians to be “disgusting” and “immoral” and full of “horrible beliefs and customs and un-mentionable thoughts”. Ironically, CBFC, that Nihalani arrogantly says “is accountable for preserving the culture and tradition of India”, has become the mouthpiece of Victorian morality, equating sex with sin and desire with guilt.