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

Three Weddings And A Dhokla

Nothing like a little tongue-in-cheek humour to start your Sunday, right? Well, G. Sampath hears you and then raises you his column for The Hindu. Taking a dig at the OTT weddings of the past weeks, Sampath tells you why the Ambanis who spent a mere 0.03 per cent of their net worth on their daughter’s wedding should be an example to the Indian middle class who exhaust their life’s savings for the same purpose. While he’s at it, Sampath- on a completely unrelated note- also takes a dig at the hundreds (at last count) cities that have been renamed this year (because, why not?!) and finally ends by telling you who made that famous dhokla that Amitabh Bachchan was seen serving at the Ambani-Piramal wedding. Read this column because we could all do with some good old satire in our lives!

"Those of you who read me regularly and fantasise about the day I become a wealthy editor-CEO adept at parlaying his journalism into political influence would know that I harbour no such ambitions. This is why you’ll never catch me taking selfies with the Prime Minister or with any of the clueless, powerless ministerial panjandrums who every day set a new benchmark for jobless girth.This is also why I try and stay away from high-profile weddings. Alert readers will remember that the last celebrity wedding I attended was the Virushka one in Italy, and as I explained in this column exactly a year ago, I only went because they wouldn’t stop weeping on the phone. But this year I made it clear to both Priyanjonas and Deepiran that Mahalingam must go to the mountain if he wants the mountain’s blessings because the mountain will not go to Mahalingam.  " - G. Sampath in The Hindu.Discriminating Against Migrants Isn’t Just Unconstitutional, It’s Also Bad Politics

In his weekly column for The Times Of India, Swaminathan Aiyar talks about the increasing trend of ‘othering’ migrants in different states- a trend that has been bolstered by political parties across the spectrum. Notwithstanding the fact that this is severely unconstitutional, Aiyar argues that it could also cost these parties politically. He cites the example of Gujarat where the BJP government is drafting a law forcing new projects to hire at least 80 per cent of their workers from within the state and says that this may alienate migrants from, say, Uttar Pradesh, who will elect 130 MPs to the Lok Sabha in 2019, as opposed to the 30 that will be elected from Gujarat.

"Rabindranath Tagore dreamed of an era when “the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls.” Alas, both the Congress and BJP are energetically building such narrow domestic walls.Article 15 of the Constitution says, “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.” Neither Narendra Modi nor Rahul Gandhi, Vijay Rupani or Kamal Nath, can wriggle out of that. Kamal Nath protests that, whatever the Constitution may say, in practice many states have special benefits for locals, so he is following what others have long done. This amounts to arguing that because many people violate the Constitutional ban on discriminating based on religion, caste, sex or place of birth, therefore state governments are entitled to do so too. No, state governments are supposed to enforce Constitutional rules, not break them.  " - Swaminathan Aiyar in The Times Of IndiaJustice, Forgiveness, And The Call To Forget

Forgive, and forget? Well, it’s not that simple as Rajeev Bhargava explains in his column for The Hindu. What is forgiveness? Is it excusing a wrong? Is it compromising with evil? Or is it acknowledging the transformation of a wrong-doer from the side of the wrong to the side of the right?

These are heavy existential questions, but Bhargava breaks them down succinctly to ensure that you get your brain juices flowing this Sunday morning.

"The reception of the recent judgment 34 years later once again demonstrates that victims of one-sided collective violence desperately need retributive justice, and not be deviously nudged to move on without it, to let bygones be bygones, to forget and forgive. Not surprisingly, it is perpetrators of violence or insensitive bystanders who say this. But forgetting is neither possible nor desirable. Traumatised survivors may be forced into silence but they can’t forget their loss or suffering. For a start, forgetting can’t be brought about intentionally; no one can wilfully strive to achieve amnesia. The more one goads oneself to forget, the more one remembers the brutality of the act and the loss of loved ones. More importantly, such a demand can’t be morally justified. " - Rajeev Bhargava in The Hindu.Taking On The Chowkidar, One Funny Tweet At A Time

In the context of Rahul Gandhi, the only thing more talked about than the upheaval of his political fortunes, is his upheaval on social media. In his column for The Times Of India, Abheek Barman talks about Gandhi’s social media strategy and how he’s taking on the Prime Minister with the one thing he arguably doesn’t have: a sense of humour. Barman looks into some of Gandhi’s tweets from the past year which have garnered more support than that of the Prime Minister and asks a pertinent question in the end- “ Will @narendramodi become India’s first PM to be laughed out of office?”

"Every voter, everywhere is used to political fibs. So about a month ago when Rahul said that if elected, state Congress governments would write off farm loans in 10 days, folks yawned. Then on December 19, he tweets: “It’s done! Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh have waived farm loans. We asked for 10 days. We did it in 2.” RT, 17,000. L, 71,000. And a panicked stampede ensues among BJP rulers of Assam and Gujarat to whitewash Rs 600 crore bad debt and Rs 650 crore unpaid power bills out of account books.Rahul steers clear of ghoulish snarls of the pearshaped Right. He gives wide berth to otiose quavers of the weedy-Left. He lacerates the powerful for neglecting, abusing and lying to those who gave them power to begin with. To take on vampire gau-rakshaks, he’ll have to take down holy cows. Using humour to bite instead of abuse to bludgeon.  " - Abheek Barman in The Times Of India.Out Of My Mind: Bankrupt Economics

While Rahul Gandhi’s debt waiver for farmers has earned him a lot of political brownie points, it does not seem to have found favour with Modi-admirer-turned-critic Lord Meghnad Desai.

Lord Desai in his column for The Indian Express calls Indian agriculture “the sick man of the Indian economy” and goes on to explain how decades of bad agrarian planning has brought agriculture to this situation today. He argues, therefore, that instead of being all filmy about farmers and their debts, politicians must try and rehabilitate farmers into other sustainable professions so that there are no debts that need to be waived off in the first place.

A little extreme, some would say, but we would ask you to hear him out.

"Political attitudes are like old Bollywood films. They love cliches. Villains have moustaches and mothers are always full of tears. Farmers are forever poor. They are supposed to deserve our sympathy but even more the taxpayers’ money. If you are a low-income earner, as an urban worker or a struggling school teacher, do not ask for debt forgiveness. If you have a mortgage and cannot keep up with your EMI, do not expect your bank or the government to cancel your debt. Not even if you are an MSME producer. Politicians have no sympathy for you. Come back as a kisan and tears well up in their eyes and you get a cheque straightaway." - Lord Meghnad Desai in The Indian ExpressInside Track: Flying Baraat

So you thought that the delay in selecting the Chief Ministers of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh was because of political reasons? Well then in her latest column for The Indian Express, Coomi Kapoor rubs a big LOL on your face. Apart from the politics, there was also the correct ‘muhurat’ as Kapoor points out and also the time that it takes to put together a political baarat.

So who were the baraatis and how were they different from the regular invitees? Kapoor breaks it down for you.

"The first auspicious day after the result declaration was 17 December, the preceding five days are termed as ‘panchak’ and considered inauspicious according to the Hindu calendar. The three oath-taking ceremonies, in Bhopal, Jaipur and Raipur, were all held on the same day, and Rahul Gandhi took a jumbo party of a few senior Congresspersons and leaders of various alliance partners to each venue. The convoy of planes, a six-seater, an eight-seater and an 18-seater, belonged to Kamal Nath, the Jindal group and a leading industrialist of Andhra Pradesh. The CMs of each state waited for Gandhi and his contingent to arrive before taking oath. Some southern MPs were surprised at the unpunctuality since they are accustomed to chief ministers being sworn in at a very precise and carefully calculated timing, both for superstitious reasons and for meticulously adhering to the official programme. After being sworn in, Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot did not even proceed to their offices to take charge, instead they flew to Chhattisgarh with the rest of the Gandhi entourage. " - Coomi Kapoor in The Indian ExpressFive Major Political Trends From 2018

Well, its that time of the year again- the time when the year finally ends, we mean- and any observer of Indian politics will agree that 2018 has set the perfect platform for an exciting General Election in 2019. In the weekly column for the Hindustan Times, Chanakya talks about these impending elections and the five major political trends that seemed unlikely to form in the beginning of 2018, but have come to the fore (and how!) as the year draws to a close. From Rahul Gandhi finally establishing himself as a force to reckon with, to the resuscitation of Mayawati after the Uttar Pradesh election debacle- here’s a summary of what went down in Indian politics this year, and how 2019 is now open-to-all.

"At the beginning of the year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), despite scraping through to win Gujarat in late 2017, was still on a high. The opposition, especially the BJP’s main rival, the Congress, appeared in tatters. The BJP looked invincible, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed a shoo-in for 2019.Modi may still be the most popular political leader in the country as the year ends, but a lot of other things have changed.The BJP is now in power in five fewer states than it was at the beginning of the year. The air of invincibility that once surrounded the party is gone. The Congress is resurgent. Through the year, it has held Parliament to hostage, belying the fact that it won a mere 44 of the 545 seats in the Lok Sabha in 2014. " - Chanakya in the Hindustan TimesReviewing 2018: The Year Of India’s Sporting Revolution

Politics is not the only thing that underwent a sea-change in 2018- so did India’s sporting scene. In his column for the Hindustan Times, Kunal Pradhan says that this has been a ‘watershed year’ for Indian sports.

From Hima Das, to Shubhankar Sharma, PV Sindhu and even the Indian Men’s cricket team which is now being led by a quartet of menacing fast bowlers- 2018 has been about young Indians starting their journey in global sports at a level where other Indians before them hoped to finish their career. 2019 promises some more of these sporting revolutions, says Pradhan, because unlike players of the past, these prodigies have not been swept away by their success- but see it as just the beginning of what they have set out to achieve.

"The story goes that, this July, a young woman in Helsinki, Finland called her father in his village in Dhing, Assam, to tell him that she was now a junior world champion. The dad, a farmer, to whom the import of the achievement didn’t immediately sink in, told her it was late and he would think about what she’d said in the morning. Hima Das, 18, told her father that he would not have any time to think in the morning because he would be too busy giving TV interviews.A couple of months before that, at the World Golf Championships in Naucalpan, Mexico, a young man approached the legendary Phil Mickelson during a practice session ahead of the decisive final round of the tournament. Mistaking him for a pesky journalist, ‘Lefty’ shooed him away: “Not right now, after the round.” It look Mickelson a few seconds to realise that the young Indian before him was Shubhankar Sharma, 21, the 54-hole leader and his playing partner in the final group that day.These two sporting anecdotes, related several times over the last few months, are important to retell as we bid goodbye to 2018 because they underline why this has been a watershed year for Indian sport.  " - Kunal Pradhan in the Hindustan TimesParatha Vs Pepper Chicken: The Dabba Divide Is Growing

We leave you with this piece by guest contributor Sonam Joshi for The Times Of India, where she talks about the changing dynamics of one our most beloved childhood memories- the tiffin dabba. In these times when the vegetarian versus non-vegetarian debate has taken the country by storm, what implication does it have on school children who, alien to this conundrum, unassumingly and innocently share their dabbas with their fellow classmates?

Well, remember that time when your fellow strict-vegetarian-at-home Jain classmate secretly gorged on your salami sandwich at lunchtime, unbeknownst to this parents? Let’s just say that may be a thing of the past now.

"For generations of school students, tiffin boxes have been a reason to bond during the lunch recess, taste unfamiliar regional and community dishes, and simply swap their boring dabba with a classmate’s tastier one. This lunchbox-fuelled camaraderie even inspired Amol Gupte’s 2011 film Stanley ka Dabba, where students share their tiffins with a classmate who can’t afford to bring one. Yet, the humble school tiffin is increasingly at the centre of a vegetarian versus-non-vegetarian food divide, with several schools issuing rules and guidelines for what’s inside lunchboxes, especially for students from junior classes." - Sonam Joshi in The Times Of IndiaMore From The Quint

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