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

The Quint
·9 min read

Inside Track: Still Recovering

In this week's dose of political gossip, Coomi Kapoor, in her column for The Indian Express, tells us how Amit Shah has been advised by his wife to take a break, the BJP has changed tactics vis-a-vis Nitish Kumar, the TRP scam issue is quite entirely political, and also how the Congress it handling the 'G-23'. What is that? Read to find out.

"The Congress high command’s game plan is to divide the ‘G-23’, the nickname for all those who signed the letter to Sonia Gandhi calling for party elections and introspection. Mukul Wasnik was pointedly favoured. So much so that when Rahul Gandhi went to Hathras to protest and was informed that only five persons could accompany him, he dropped Randeep Surjewala in favour of Wasnik. Jitin Prasada is another who was hastily mollified. While some UP office bearers called for his expulsion, UPCC chief Ajay Kumar Lallu looked the other way." - Coomi Kapoor in The Indian ExpressBoycott Channels That Spread Prejudice, Hate

Tired of hate-driven television news? Well, while we wait for corporate to do their part and stop advertising on these platforms, we can do our bit and just stop watching these channels, says Karan Thapar in his piece for The Hindustan Times.

And while you're at it, also subscribe to independent media organisations like The Quint that depend on your support. (Yes, why not make a subtle plug when there's the opportunity!)

"All we have to do is stop watching the channels. This should not be difficult because many of us profess to dislike them. So if you really don’t approve, don’t switch them on. It’s literally as simple as that. Now, if we stop watching, corporations will have an additional reason to stop advertising. It’s our eyeballs they’re after but if we’re watching something else, the advertisers are also likely to relocate." - Karan Thapar in The Times Of IndiaThe Muted Must Unmute Themselves

In his column for The Indian Express, P. Chidambaram talks about various social indicators in Bihar to explain how harsh economic conditions have rendered the people of the state voiceless. Stating that the upcoming elections in the state will see the electorate vote either for or against incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Chidambaram says that the time has come for the hard-working people of Bihar to "unmute" themselves.

"It is pretty clear that the people of Bihar will vote either for or against Mr Nitish Kumar. Mr Kumar was a product of the JP movement and a socialist to boot. It was believed he was thoroughly secular and would fight the rise of Mr Narendra Modi. When he first became chief minister, he seemed to have restored law and order and to be genuinely committed to development. All that changed in July 2017 when he gave up his opposition to Mr Modi, broke the coalition government with RJD, joined hands with BJP and continued as chief minister, this time as the head of a NDA government. Since then, he has identified himself less with the people of Bihar and more with Mr Modi in order to sustain himself in office. That would be pardonable if he had lifted Bihar a few rungs higher on the economic ladder. On the contrary, the state has slided." - P. Chidambaram in The Indian ExpressBihar: What We know, What We Don’t Know

If you need a primer on the upcoming Bihar elections, this piece by Chanakya for The Hindustan Times. From an election that once seemed like it was going to be a clear win for the Nitish Kumar-BJP alliance, it has now become a complex and open contest, writes Chanakya.

"From being widely seen as a straightforward contest, where the victory of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the return of Nitish Kumar as chief minister (CM) were but certain, the Bihar election has become a far more complex, and an open contest. This is because of a range of factors — the diminished popularity of the CM, a churn in the existing social equations, uncertainty about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the possible emergence of a younger leader, and possible rifts within the ruling alliance." - Chanakya in The Hindustan TimesDealing With Islamism

The news of Samuel Paty, a teacher in France who was beheaded by a Russian Islamist for a lesson he taught in school, did not make headlines in India. But, the country has a lot to learn from how the French dealt with the incident, opines Tavleen Singh, in her column of The Indian Express.

"The reason why this story is important for us in India is that something similar happened to a teacher in Kerala some years ago. His hand was severed by our homegrown jihadists because they objected to a lesson he taught about the Prophet of Islam. It is also important for us because our own foundational values are under threat from both Hindutva fanatics and Islamists. At the risk of being called Islamophobic, I believe that the jihadist threat is more organised and more dangerous. It has to be fought but it has to be fought in the arena of ideas. Not by retaliatory violence." - Tavleen Singh in The Indian ExpressBig Tech Needs Regulation But Govt Action No Solution

In his column for The Times Of India, Swaminathan Aiyar talks about the need to regulate big tech giants, but, he says, that government regulation should be brought in to address taxation and privacy issues. Not the "monopoly power" of these organisations.

"Google gets only 29% of digital advertising, followed by Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and new internet stars like Tik-Tok. Google is simply not an “unchallenged gateway”, though it is the dominant search engine. The historical argument against monopoly is price gouging. But the internet giants typically offer free news, entertainment, and knowledge. This can create problems of privacy and hate speech but is the opposite of price gouging." - Swaminathan Aiyar in The Times Of IndiaBangladesh: From a ‘Basket Case’ To a Robust Economy

How did Bangladesh go from being an example of "world poverty" to now being close to overtaking India in terms of per capita income? In his piece for The Hindustan Times, Mark Tully explains this turn in tide by looking at the social and economic events in the country in the last few years.

"Two factors have helped Bangladesh get where it is, and both are different to India. The first is its willingness to take international aid and the advice that goes with it. In the early 1990s, I made Addicted to Aid, arguing that the availability of plentiful foreign aid was weakening the Bangladesh government’s resolve to raise revenues. Looking back now, it seems that Bangladesh benefitted because its dire economic straits forced the government to follow donors’ advice, putting aside politics. Despite a strong socialist tradition in Bangladeshi politics and the fear that privatisation will be seen as anti-poor, Dhaka pursued privatisation decisively. India has been more hesitant about privatisation. Second, unlike in India, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been encouraged to play a crucial role in Bangladesh’s development. An outstanding example is the multi-faceted development agency Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC). According to The Economist, BRAC is now the world’s largest charity. Its programme provides a monitored pathway out of extreme poverty and has been adopted by NGOs in 45 countries." - Mark Tully in The Hindustan TimesPak’s Latest Episode Of Game Of Thrones Is An Inflection Point

In the midst of all the political action in the country, have you missed out on the power tussle in Pakistan? In his article for The Times of India, Sushant Sareen gives us all a lowdown of everything that has been happening in Pakistan for the last few weeks, and also what it means for Indo-Pak relations.

"Even in a praetorian state like Pakistan, it is inconceivable that colonels can abduct an IG police without the orders coming right from the top. If Bajwa now makes junior officers the scapegoat to save his own skin, it will reflect very poorly on his leadership. On the other hand, if Bajwa takes responsibility — Pakistani generals aren’t exactly known for behaving gracefully — he will be history. What should worry the army more is that defiance of the military signifies its dread is diminishing. A bully survives on fear. Once that fear is gone, the bully’s game is up. If people indeed start to stand up against the military, it will mean curtains for the current hybrid regime. But all talk of Pakistan heading towards a civil war is rather far-fetched at this point in time. Perhaps, it is also premature to talk about the end of military’s dominance in Pakistan’s politics. A more realistic outcome is of a much-needed correction in the current imbalance in civil-military relations. But even this will depend on how the politicians make use of this moment. Will they push for genuine civilian supremacy or will they be tempted to cut side deals to win relief for themselves and fritter away this moment by sabotaging the opportunity afforded to them?" - Sushant Sareen in The Times Of IndiaMy Eight Hundred Cents On The Murali Saga, Vijay Sethupathi And Cancel Culture

In a guest column for The Times Of India, Shehan Karunatilaka, co-writer of the book '800' on Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan, has a message for South Indian actor Vijay Sethupathi who recently dropped out of a film to be made on the same.

"This is what I would say to Sethupathi if he was still doing our movie and was open to opening open letters. Or wounds. Don’t cancel the match because a few in that section of the crowd are screaming ‘no ball’. I agreed to write the movie for two reasons. Or more accurately to answer two questions. Two questions that I wouldn’t have had the guts to ask Murali himself, if I ever met him. 1) What is it like to be called the Greatest Of All Time and a Cheat/Fraud/Chucker by the same set of fans? 2) What was it like to be a Tamil boy in a mostly Sinhala dressing room at a time when the two races were at war? Here’s the thing about Murali. Many cricket fans (mostly Lankans) think he is a genius. Some cricket fans (mostly Aussies) think he’s a fraud. Here’s the other thing. At a time when the nation was at each other’s throats, not only did the whole team get behind him, but the entire country did. Both the Sinhala Buddhists and the Tamil Separatists and everyone caught in between. We all united behind Murali’s elbow." - Shehan Karunatilaka in The Times Of IndiaMore From The Quint:

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