Edits In Short: January 23
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 23, 2013
Think before you talk – Editorial
The Hindu edit severly critises Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s allegations of Hindutva terror against the RSS and the BJP, and says that Shinde spoke as a senior Congress leader and not like a responsible home minister. Not only did he fail to provide proof of his allegaitions, “he has no explanation for his government not having acted on these serious charges”. The edit does have a go at the RSS and brings up Mahatma Gandhi’s assasination as well as the Hyderabad and Malegaon blasts, the arrests for which it says may be just the tip of the iceberg. Nevertheless it feels that Shinde’s comments are nothing but empty rhetoric which will only aid terrorism.
A perverse move – Editorial
More criticism of the government, this time on its diesel pricing policy which the edit states is perverse – the poor have to pay more, and the rich are subsidised. How? Oil companies can now charge market price to railways and state transport corporations, but the prices at pump level will move up marginally. End result is that railways state level corporations will pass on the price hike to passengers (who come from the poorer section of society) while those driving private transport will get a government subsidy of Rs.10 per litre.
The edit feels that the government could have increased diesel prices, have dual pricing for trucks and cars, or could have free pricing across a board with just subsidies of railways and state transport. Sadly, it seems to have gone for a politically expedient and administratively simple solution.
Decoding Manmohan Singh’s red lines – Main Article
Sanjaya Baru, Director of Geo-economics and Strategy, International Institute for Strategic Studies, stresses in his piece that Manmohan Singh has always taken a tough stance on foreign policy and national security, and has stuck to it. Referring to Singh’s assertion that “it cannot be business as usual” with Pakistan, he repeats twice in his piece that “Despite political constraints, the Prime Minister has jealously guarded his turf on foreign policy and national security”. And then goes on give many many examples of the same. Singh’s confrontation with the Left Front in Bengal when there were CPI(M) protests at Kalaikunda air force base, with Mamata Banerjee over the Teesta river water sharing, with Sonia Gandhi over the India-Asean free trade agreement, with the US over Richard Holbrookes’s visit to Kashmir, with China over Dalai Lama’s travel within India etc.
In all these cases he writes, “Dr. Singh has not shied away from drawing red lines.”
The Hindustan Times, January 23, 2013
Now to set the house in order – Editorial
The edit launches into praise for Barrack Obama, “a national leader who fundamentally made his country more liberal – more open, more egalitarian and more humane”. It goes on to list his achievements and his commitment to improving things at home. But the edit feels that Obama being busy tending home fires is not good news for the rest of the world. Amongst others, the Asia-Pacific region is worried about US’s back and forth relationship with China, and India is worried about the consequences of a hasty US retreat from Afghanistan.
“…the sense that Mr. Obama is rolling up his sleeves to confront his right-wing opponents will be even more reason to expect Washington’s worldview to shrink to its own boundaries in the next three years.” Who will fill the spaces that the superpower will start to leave vacant, is the question.
Zero tolerance please – Main Article
CPI (M) Politburo member and Rajya Sabha MP, Sitaram Yechury while commenting on Sushil Kumar Shinde’s remark on saffron terror, writes that “India must maintain that terrorism has no religion”, and that should apply to all religions. He then writes that the RSS doesn’t feel this way and launches into the history of RSS terror and its complicity in various attacks, as well as its hobnobbing with the likes of Mussolini. Yechury also mentions Nathuram Godse’s strong link with RSS.
“..they (RSS) are once again proclaiming that such terrorist acts may be the result of actions by a few ‘deviant elements’ and insist that the organisation must not to be (sic) blamed.” However like Shinde, he has no real proof to offer that the organisation is directly involved.
He ends by stating that the country should display zero tolerance towards terrorism as various forms of terrorism will strengthen each other.
Indian Express, January 23, 2013
The Mercenaries – Editorial
Reeling out a list of crimes in which former Haryana CM Om Prakash Chautala has been named, the edit comments that Chautala’s sentencing in the teacher’s scam “is a sobering moment but it is not entirely unexpected.” He was convicted in 2000 when his party was in power.
It goes on to add that the system itself is rotten, and not just in Haryana, adding that Chautala’s conviction is a reminder that this cannot continue. And that “investigative and legal systems have the capacity to contain it.” Also not missing the chance to take a dig at the recent anti-corruption movements it signs off by saying “Insulating and strengthening these systems should be the focus, rather than confused anti-corruption flailing.”
Jaipur embarrassment – Editorial
The Jaipur Literature Fest is once again in the cross-hairs of religious organisations – this time both the RSS and Muslim organisations. The edit starts out by asking the very valid question “Will the government allow quasi-religious groups to turn the Jaipur Literature Festival into a political akhara every year?”
The Jaipur police have assured security on the condition that organisers make sure no one’s feelings are hurt. The newspaper calls it a “bizarre” condition and says that the weakness of the government in standing up to disrupting elements fuels an “industry of hurt sentiments”. This weakness has created a precedent on which the workers of this industry now stand. It ends by suggesting that it’s time these people are stared down.
The Times of India, January 23, 2013
Big Brother Again – Editorial
Like the Express, the TOI edit too decries calls by both Islamic and Hindu fundamentalists to deny certain writers space in the Jaipur Literature Festival. It makes the interesting point that asking the organisers to assure that no one’s feelings get hurt is akin to blaming a woman for the way she dresses. Listing a number of writers and artists whose works had to bear the brunt of fundamentalists as the government didn’t protect their freedoms, it comments that “a healthy democracy cannot really fear crumbling under the assault of a few controversial words”. We couldn’t agree more.
Just Deserts – Editorial
In light of the “most brutal”of the rapists in the Delhi gang rape case being a minor and likely to get only three year imprisonment, the edit comments that this doesn’t look like justice at all. It pitches for “flexible sentencing” wherein the juvenile law would allow for minors to be tried as adults in case of brutal crimes.
It adds that in many countries, including UK and US, the law already allows for this. It ends succinctly by saying that “Let’s give juvenile offenders a chance to realise their mistakes and rebuild their lives. But let’s put the most brutal among them into the more brutal adult penal system.”
Age-old question – Editorial
Jug Suraiya too weighs in on the juvenile question as the edit above. He uses child labour to illustrate the irony that the same state that seeks to protect juvenile criminals can’t or doesn’t do anything to help millions of young children forced into child labour.
According to him, in India, “you are as old as what you do”. If a child worker is forced to accept the responsibility of earning for herself no matter how young she is, then juveniles who commit “acts of criminal violence” are liable to be punished for them.
Manifesto To End Caste – Main Article
A very interesting piece by Chandan Bhan Prasad, writer on Dalit issues, and Milind Kamble, chairman, Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry, who have come out with a manifesto to end caste. Each demand in the manifesto is preceded with an explanation of why it is being demanded. For example, growing mechanisation in Bhadwan, UP has meant landlords deploying more harvestors for the paddy crop. Those working on machines refuse grain as wages and take cash only. So, the control the landlord had over his Dalit worker, of “providing” him with food, is gone. Dalits now have cash to spend as they like. Therefore the manifesto demands a massive subsidy for the farm equipment industry, thus weakening caste control over dalits’ lives.
The manifesto goes on to make several other demands, some of which are a bit drastic such as the scrapping of the environment ministry as it slows down the march of industrialisation. The piece is keeping in mind only Dalit interests and doesn’t seem to be looking at India as a whole.