Edits In Short: January 22
Didn’t get time to read the edit pages in today’s papers? Don’t worry. We’ve read them for you!
The Hindu, January 22, 2013
Diluting GAAR – Editorial
The postponement of the General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) of taxation to April 2016 has been done in line with the recommendations of the Parthasarathi Shome Committee and is meant to “revive the ‘animal spirits’ of foreign investors, domestic entrepreneurs and rentiers”. But even as it pleases the FIIs and portfolio managers, it dilutes sound principles of public finance, says the edit. As a result, it is only the lone tax official in the multi-member panel who is accountable to the income tax department and the government, the status of double taxation avoidance agreement is still a matter of conjecture, while the decision to exclude offshore derivatives is controversial indeed.
Going from zero FIRs to e-FIRs – Main Article
In the context of Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar announcing a slew of measures to enhance women’s safety, Aparna Vishwanathan recommends introducing online registration of First Information Reports. “As shown by the introduction of the Zero FIR, the starting point towards improving criminal justice is the filing of the criminal complaint itself”. Vishwanathan, author of Cyber Law: Indian and International Perspectives, goes on to state that “in view of the great national imperative in creating deterrence against rape, websites and e-filing mechanisms should be immediately created to permit e-filing of FIRs at least in rape cases”.
The Hindustan Times, January 22, 2013
Politics can play a positive role – Editorial
The HT edit continues to celebrate the Congress’ Chintan Shivir at Jaipur, this time choosing to laud UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s speech on women’s rights and safety issues. In wide-eyed admiration, it notes, “it is very rare in Indian politics for a party to devote so much time to women’s rights but the Congress did just that”. The censure, unsurprisingly, is reserved for BJP: “…the BJP has been found singularly wanting in this regard”. The rest of the edit concentrates on the ways and means by which political parties can increase women’s participation in politics and the need to “engage male politicians in the gender discourse”.
Distant but dangerous – Editorial
Discussing the stand-off between an al Qaeda affiliate and Algerian security forces over a natural gas facility, the edit says that such events are a reminder that “the acolytes of Osama Bin Laden are not limited to west and south Asia”. This incident, along with a Franco-African military attempt to avert a takeover of Mali, the operation of Al Shabab in southern Somalia as well as al Qaeda’s long-standing battle to control Yemen means that “if these groups are able to hold territory, they would automatically create havens for Islamicist terrorists of all shapes and colours”. No matter how distant they sound, these events are of concern to India.
A work in progress – Main Article
Journalist and author Sidharth Bhatia’s piece is purportedly on Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to vice president of the Congress Pary, but begins by discussing the reaction of the online community to the events at Jaipur. The “explosion of mockery, online as well as offline” has clearly riled the author (it’s called freedom of speech Sidharth, let it grow under your skin) and though he knows that “frivolity is often the default tone of those who spend a lot of time on the social media” he chooses to discuss that frivolity in the first couple of chunky paragraphs. The rest is a eulogy to the “reluctant prince”, the “heir apparent”, who has not been sitting idle, travelling in rural areas to learn about the “problems of ordinary village folk”. Not all his ideas and tactics may have succeeded, Bhatia concedes, but wait for this – “Rahul Gandhi may yet have a plan”.
The Indian Express, January 22, 2013
Ways of seeing – Editorial
The dividends of the Jaipur Chintan Shivir for the Congress is not just the formal ascension of Rahul Gandhi to power, but the recognition by the party that “young, women and middle classes are not finding their concerns reflected by the system”. The party needs to let go of contrived antagonisms like rural-urban, poor-rich if it is to put itself in touch with the electorate.
In Swartz’s wake – Editorial
The edit focuses on the debate around the questions related to the freedom of information following the suicide of programmer and internet folk hero, Aaron Swartz. His most memorable campaign, against JSTOR (Journal Storage), was to ensure that academic knowledge doesn’t remain sequestered, but that everybody gets access to it. Academic knowledge “cannot be given away for free, A Swartz would have wanted, since the development of learning is expensive. But business models could be created to widen access while remaining fiscally prudent.”
The Times of India, January 22, 2013
Obama’s second term – Editorial
The lead edit discusses the challenges ahead of US president Barack Obama, and also the kind of legacy he is likely to have once he demits office. “Obama spent most of his first stint getting out of holes that that his predecessor George Bush had dug” and it is the way he deals with the debt problem on the domestic front and a possibly nuclear Iran, fledgling Arab democracies, Afghanistan and China that will secure his reputation.
Choice of words – Editorial
The edit on home minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s allegation that terror camps held by the BJP and the RSS promote “Hindu terrorism” condemns his remarks, first because it “tars the entire community of its followers with the same brush”. Second, “there is a widespread suspicion that Hindu right-wing extremists were involved in the Samjhuata Express, Mecca Masjid and Malegaon blasts. But until the courts convict the alleged perpetrators, it would be foolhardy to pin the blame on anyone”. If Shinde has investigative insight into what goes on at those terror camps he should make them public instead of dropping hints.
Long Road Ahead – Main Article
Arati Jerath argues that it is Rahul Gandhi’s role, rather than his post, “that will determine whether he is the game changer the Congress so desperately seeks”. “Something is happening in urban India and it is demanding to be addressed”, she writes, and it “must be evident to Rahul that his mother’s politics cannot work for him, not in the new emerging India”. The politics of patronage is not going to work anymore but Rahul remains a “product of feudal politics”, representing “the very tendencies this new class abhors”. He will have to innovate and craft a new idiom for his party. Interestingly she writes, “Rahul joins a rather dubious legion because the only other vice-presidents the Congress has had were Arjun Singh and Jitendra Prasad, who were bumped up because they had become inconvenient”.