Edits In Short: December 17

Didn’t get time to read the edit pages in today’s papers? Don’t worry. We’ve read them for you!

ByNL Team
Edits In Short: December 17
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The Hindu, December 17, 2012

Muddy waters, made muddier – Editorial

Either Narendra Modi is clueless on how to negotiate territorial disputes like Sir Creek, or is deliberately misleading the public “in a cynical vote catching attempt, with no thought to the larger consequences”. The edit cites his letter to the Prime Minister in which Modi accuses him of planning to “hand over” Sir Creek (a 99 km estuary in the Rann of Kutch) to Pakistan. This, Modi believed, was to happen during the visit of Pakistan Interior Minister Rahman Malik.

Ridiculing Modi’s claims, the edit explains that the Indian government has been in talks with Pakistan over this issue since 2004.

It expresses surprise and states that these vote-catching ploys are typical of losing candidates and not someone who’s poised at the edge of victory. Modi’s posturing, according to the edit, has poisoned the ground for a breakthrough in talks.

Ageing with dignity – Editorial

Today’s demographic advantage could turn into tomorrow’s adversity, says a piece on the plight of the elderly in India. This follows the UN Population Fund’s report on the status of the aged in select states of India where the aged population is larger than the national average.

The proportion of the elderly is projected to grow by 360 per cent by 2050, compared to a 60 per cent increase in overall population. This means that India, as other developing countries do, should invest in social protection, public health and welfare policies for those under 35 years of age, so that it can prepare them for their old age.

The Hindustan Times, December 17, 2012

A call worth waiting for – Editorial

This edit comments that nation-wide mobile number portability (MNP) will make India like most mature economies, a one telecom zone. It’s good news for Indian telephone subscribers who number in excess of 900 million, and can now transfer their number anywhere in India for a small fee.

In a country where in 1994 the charge for a 1 minute call to the US was Rs 16, it is now 45 paise – despite inflation. Add to that, the low cost of smartphones and you have a revolutionised telecom sector.

The next logical step, the edit states, is to do away with roaming bills so that India can become a one telecom zone.

From autumn to spring – Editorial

Not such good news for the elderly in India, whose population is likely to double by 2026. We may live longer but we’ll be unhealthier, states this edit. And with lesser healthcare options.

“With an abysmally low doctor-patient ratio – one doctor for 1953 people, health services in India are not able to effectively tackle even basic illnesses, leave alone the more complex old-age ones like Dementia or Alzheimer’s.”

The State has to step in and focus on geriatric care, assisted living and avenues of employment for the elderly. The rise of nuclear families leads to more neglect of the elders in a family who should be retiring and enjoying life.

When rights are wrong – Main Article

Political analyst Ashok Malik questions the very definition of “welfarism”. “Is it providing support to sections of people for temporary periods till they gain the capacity to fend for themselves – or is it an institutionalized intervention in the equation between demand and supply and the artificial fixing of prices?”

He cites examples such as the rent control (where the burden is placed on private property owners), Right to Education (creating quotas for the underprivileged in schools), and healthcare (where the government is ensuring cheap medicines). Isn’t it better he asks, that the government build and strengthen public schools or set up more hospitals to provide a preventive health regimen?

Between 2003 and 2011, while India’s GDP grew at an average of 8.5% a year, its subsidy bill rose from Rs 40,000 Cr to Rs 60,000 Cr.

“Subsidy, welfarism and entitlement are the brahmastras of social engineering. They need to be used judiciously. If they overstay their welcome they begin to prove counter-productive.”

The Indian Express, December 17, 2012

On the money – Paper Edit

While the edit considers UPA’s cash transfer scheme an “entirely worthwhile idea”, it cautions that the programme needs to be implemented properly and not in an election pre-rush. According to the edit, focusing on programme designing is important and “if it gets the details wrong, the programme could rebound on the UPA”. Also mentions that cash transfers were part of the BJP election manifesto as well.

Moving on the ground – Paper Edit

The edit states that it is important to focus on the substance of Rehman Malik’s visit and not the “atmospherics created” by his controversial statements. It insists that the liberal visa agreement and the fact that the Ministry of External Affairs is “reasonably satisfied with the progress made in the 26/11 trial in Pakistan” shows that there is progress in Indo-Pak bilateral relations, which is a good sign.

“Bilateral progress with Pakistan calls for patience and looking past disappointment. With elections due in Pakistan, India will need more of that patience. But the distance they have come after the 26/11 reversal is evidence of the pragmatism that works.

Land of hope and curry – Editorial

The edit comments that while Britain’s population is getting more diverse, the rhetoric of its politicians across the spectrum is getting more “claustrophobic”. According to it, Labour leader Ed Miliband’s insistence on “social integration” is quite similar to Prime Minister David Cameron’s thrust on “big society”.

The article ends by saying that while other European countries are growing averse to multi-culturalism, “Britain liked to project itself as the country that had named curry its national dish” – the anti-immigration stance of its political leaders goes against this and so does its immigration test.

How to make cash transfer work – Main Article

This piece written by Guy Standing, professor of development studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, states that in the cash transfer scheme, the devil lies in the details. The success of the programme depends on how it is implemented.

It starts out by commenting that replacing the PDS and other subsidy schemes with cash transfers will be a “serious, expensive error”. It adds that there are some issues that need to be looked into while implementing the scheme. First is identifying who are the people who will be the targets of this scheme. Second is whether the money should be provided on a family basis or on individual basis. He adds that individual transfers raise the status of the women and elderly in a family. The third issue conditions attached to cash transfers.

The writer is highly against it, stating – “beware of the ‘nudgers’ who think people must be induced to behave in ways they think is best for them”. Toward the end, he suggests that initially cash transfers be provided in hand with people induced into opening bank accounts soon.

He ends it by writing what another Express edit also said – that “In sum, the success of cash transfers will depend as much on how it is done as on the cash itself”.

The Times of India, December 17, 2012

Kill This Bill – Editorial

Fabulously titled, this edit states that quota-linked reservations will deepen caste bias, promote a culture of mediocrity and embolden other minorities to make similar demands.

“Pushing SCs/STs up office hierarchies for considerations other than competence is a recipe for deepening caste bias and eroding team spirit in the workplace.” 

The goal, this edit feels, should be preparing Indians for a competitive job market by promoting better health, infrastructure and educational facilities which will also increase the economic prospects of the unprivileged section.

Laying the ground – Editorial

This piece comments on the New Visa Agreement between India and Pakistan. With all the provisions like access to more destinations and long-term visas, the agreement should welcome better personal and economic relations between the two countries. But hold the celebrations.

“…the visa regime could have been liberalised even further had the bilateral dynamics been better.” Issues such as 26/11, Babri Masjid and the death of Captain Saurabh Kalia have to be addressed peacefully and in a timely manner by both the nations for better relations.

Concludes by suggesting that while the New Visa regime and bilateral trade norms lay the ground for a peaceful agreement, Islamabad should deliver on the 26/11 trial. And New Delhi should focus on the Samjhauta Express bombing case.

Don’t tie the media – Main Article

Illustrating the recent cases of corruption in media, Rachna Burman expresses strong views on the importance of self-regulation of media and the freedom of speech for media; both of which she believes are central to democracy. Even though there are several laws and regulations to regulate the media by the government bodies like TRAI & Press Council, self-regulatory bodies like NBSA (News Broadcasting Standards Authority), BCCC (Broadcasting Content Complaints Council) are becoming increasingly effective.

Vehemently against the government regulation of media, which she says is enough to tie the media in knots, she believes that now is the time to strengthen the existing self-regulatory bodies of media.

Concludes by suggesting that self-correction of media will encourage rogue elements to play by the rules – and still make money legitimately.

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