Edits In Short: January 9
The Hindu, January 9, 2013
On the brink, again – Editorial
The edit expresses disgust at the turn of events in Jharkhand and comments that it was a matter of when, and not if, the Munda government fell. Note the 12-year-old state’s dubious achievements: “eight governments in 12 years including one that lasted all of 11 days; an Independent MLA wheeling and dealing his way to the chief ministership only to end up in jail for amassing unbelievable wealth; one Chief Minister exiting for not being able to win his own Assembly seat; and two spells of President’s Rule.”
The latest split is over the presumed agreement to share governance responsibilities. The script,the edit comments, “never fails in Jharkhand whose tragedy has been that though it was carved out of Bihar to end its endemic deprivation, it has become hostage to unending political brinkmanship.”
Leadership that suffers a legitimacy deficit – Main Article
Vinod Bhanu, Executive Director, Centre for Legislative Research and Advocacy in New Delhi, writes that in the largest democracy in the world, it’s ironic that the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh (Member of the Rajya Sabha), and three Chief Ministers (Akhilesh Yadav, Nitish Kumar and Prithviraj Chauhan) are unelected leaders from the second chambers (Legislative Councils) and not elected directly by the people.
He writes that this “represents both a threat to democracy and calls into question the legitimacy of their position”. It involves less democracy, it undermines the democratic integrity of the political apparatus, and the position of the second chambers in the States is constitutionally inferior unlike the second chamber of Parliament in some respects.
His article goes on to identify the six states that have second chambers, and the attempts by other states to revive them (amidst opposition from various political parties). He points out that the current coalition government in the UK has pledged to reform the House of Lords, making approximately 80 per cent of them be elected instead of nominated, and downsizing the number of Lords from about 830 to 450.
Getting serious about science – Editorial
The edit comments on India’s policy on science and quotes Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who declared last week while releasing the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013, that it was intended to “position India among the top five global scientific powers by the year 2020.”
Comparing India’s scientific capabilities to – who else – China, the edit points out that China spends 1.7 per cent of its GDP on R&D whilst India barely reaches the 1 per cent mark.
“The domestic market must, for instance, be leveraged, such as through appropriate government procurement policies, to allow indigenous technology to flourish and compete internationally. That’s something China has done with remarkable success.”
The Hindustan Times, January 9, 2013
In Godmen we don’t trust – Editorial
The edit rips apart Asaram Bapu’s “revolting” comments on the recent gangrape. “When so-called godmen like Asaram Bapu come out with absurd and insulting remarks that the poor victim should have taken the name of god, begged for mercy and called the assailants her brothers in order to prevent the rape, they are not only diminishing the girl’s heroic struggle but also cocking a snook at the law.”
What is alarming, the edit comments, is the millions of followers he has, “for whom his word is almost carved in stone. It then becomes incumbent on such a person to speak on such sensitive issues responsibly and with caution”.
It ends by suggesting that “an investigation into the workings of these ashrams and other organisations purportedly dispensing spiritual advice would at least make these self-styled gurus accountable”. The edit stops short of suggesting that these “investigations” should be into organisations of all religions.
Time to make a choice – Main Article
Sagarika Ghose, Deputy Editor, CNN-IBN writes that it’s time India made a choice – “Are we a modern democracy or are we a tradition-enraptured society where an imagined Bharatiya sanskriti and a ‘pure’ ancient culture handed down from the mythical past will be the guiding light for our future?”
The piece is a bit of a rant against all the shocking statements that have been made about women following the gangrape, focusing mainly (and predictably) on the RSS, BJP, young NRIs (for whom the age of Shiva is a collective role model), godmen etc.
She also feels that the nation is not exactly sure what modernity is. “Modernity is not about miniskirts, and tradition is not about opposing miniskirts.” Modernity she says is about constantly interrogating traditions and interpreting them for a new era.
Let’s find the answers together – Article
A bleeding heart piece by none other than the Union minister for external affairs Salman Khurshid (of the Operation Dhritrashtra fame). He writes on how there’s some confusion after the protests on the rape on “who is a friend and who is a foe”! Yes he means that the government has been unfairly treated and is very pained.
“We were lectured endlessly about how little we know about the young, that politics equals cynicism and that pain should not be politicised. No one ever said this was easy for any of us. We did not want to be ambulance chasers or convert tragedy into photo-ops.”
Guess that explains why no one from the government made any statement or attempted to address the protestors. He ends with a line on how we all must unite to fight terrorism, corruption and oppression of women. Yes, he said corruption.
The Indian Express, January 9, 2013
Wrong answer – Editorial
The edit states that simply taxing the rich will not achieve anything as it will stifle entrepreneurship and create more tax evasion. Also, taxing the rich will make them likely to set up business elsewhere. It suggests that instead India should focus on increasing the tax base and implementing the General Sales Tax.
“What India needs most is to build a culture of compliance and the organisational capacity in the tax department to enforce sensibly.”
Full Article: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/wrong-answer/1056417/
Team spirit – Editorial
The edit commends Obama for standing by his controversial choices of people to run the Pentagon and the CIA. The president has antagonised both the Republicans and some Democrats with his choices because of their views of what foreign policy should be. The edit sees Obama’s choices as bringing in a shift in American foreign policy towards a “liberal realism” in view of its expensive wars and changed global economic scenario.
Full Article: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/team-spirit/1056416/
Quick-fix failures – Main Article
Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President of The Centre for Policy Research and contributing editor of The Indian Express, says that many of our current problems in India – be it governance or growth – are because we apply solutions that are short-term band-aid measures. He also makes the point that the government can’t continue to “run with the hare of independent regulation and hunt with the hound of arbitrary discretion that landed it in so many legal quagmires.”
The Times of India, January 9, 2013
Shades Of Infamy – Editorial
The edit is a remark on the outrageous statements made by the country’s politicians regarding the Delhi gangrape that galvanised the entire nation.
Here are some: the victim would have avoided the tragedy by chanting Hindu mantras, referring to the offender as her brother and begging for mercy; women influenced by the West (in dress and/or action) are as much to blame as their assailants; women are under a malefic configuration of stars that explains the increase in rape; fast food for hormonal imbalances leads to rape; increasing use of western technology too is to be blamed for the sexual violence against women.
The only silver lining in this dark cloud the edit feels, is that our politicians’ viewpoints are now out in the open and subject to public scrutiny and debate.
Health Hazard – Editorial
The spread of mobile phones across the globe has advanced the cause of globalisation and international commerce. But a WHO report, comments this edit, classifies radiation emitted from mobile phones as carcinogenic, leading to health hazards such as brain tumour and loss of fertility in men.
The edit warns that India is the fastest growing market for mobile phones in the world, and the government will have to take the initiative to spread awareness on the subject and ensure effective implementation through regular monitoring.
Is An Indian Woman A Person? – Main Article
Sudhir Kakar, psychoanalyst and novelist, comments on India’s need to define its women in relational terms – mother, daughter, sister or wife, and anyone who doesn’t fit into these categories is, what the former president of India called, “bhog ki cheez”. “Stripped off relational categories and just as an individual, a woman is not a person but an object, a body for male enjoyment”.
A woman must be related to somebody to be perceived and respected as a person and thus, Indira Gandhi and Jayalalithaa become ammas, Mamata Banerjee – didi and Mayawati – behen.
The Western concept of women on the other hand, recognises them as persons/individuals. But Kakar notes that the influence of the West on our fashion mores and sexual conduct lead some men to think of the objectification of a woman’s body as part of the idea of modernity.
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