The Hindu, December 31, 2012
Public toilets for our cities – Editorial
This edit states that the city of Linfen in China should be an example to India on how to improve our sanitation. Linfen has improved living conditions and won the UN-Habitat’s international best practice award for the Asia-Pacific region. At the core of Linfen’s revival is the “toilet revolution” that began in 2008. “The local government constructed and retrofitted 200 toilets in and around the city. Smart design has changed people’s perceptions and about 20 million use them every year.”
In contrast, Indian cities have not shown any urgency to improve the situation. For example, Chennai, which needs about 6000 public toilets, has only 714, and Nagpur, which needs more than 3000 toilets, has 318.
Though some organisations such as Sulabh have done a good job, the edit feels that “Designs have to radically change and turn this everyday public amenity to an object of civic pride. Anti-vandal fittings, enhanced safety measures and aesthetically pleasing colours combined with better location, good maintenance and recycling of resources would help meet this objective.”
Egypt’s strength in diversity – Editorial
The draft Egyption Constitution has been passed with a 64% vote, but Egypt’s problems haven’t abated, states this edit. Accused of being heavily Islamic in nature by opposition parties, “The referendum does not confirm the public support the raw figures imply, as turnout among the 52 million registered voters was only 32.9 per cent, and voters even in Cairo complained of irregularities, such as inadequate judicial supervision and attempts by poll staff to influence voters.”
The edit warns that Egypt is faced with a slump in the economy after the exit of Hosni Mubarak, a notoriously corrupt and brutal police, a military that’s warning that they will not let Egypt be dragged into a “dark tunnel”, and a judiciary which sees itself as guardians of the public interest who are above accountability. “Therefore without a constitution which has widespread public assent, none of the major political actors can know their way about.”
Will Egypt have the strength to pull through?
Parliament and patriarchy – Ramachandra Guha
Ramachandra Guha, author and historian, writes in this article that the current Parliament must pass the Women’s Reservation Bill, and take “its cue from an earlier generation of lawmakers who gave women the vote, abolished untouchablitlity and reformed personal laws”. He writes on the difficulties the opposition faced from the earlier generation of lawmakers in passing these laws. For example, when the Constitutional Assembly drafted a the law abolishing traditional religious laws prohibiting women from choosing their marriage partners, divorcing brutal or neglectful husbands or inheriting property, “sundry saints and sadhus organised dozens of demonstrations outside the Parliement condemning the Bill as an affront to Hindu society.”
While the Congress of Nehru was bold enough to resisit this challenge, the Congress of Rajiv Gandhi he says, failed 30 years later to resist the challenge of reactionary mullahs to the Shah Bano case.
He feels that the recent protests against rapists prove that large sections of the urban population have shed their prejudices. “Now it’s for the legislators to pick up and amplify the signals.”
The Hindustan Times, December 31, 2012
Don’t let her life go to waste – Editorial
The edit sums up the Delhi gangrape and subsequent protests on the streets of India and warns that this case was just the trigger and “The anger over the rising number of cases of sexual abuse, lack of security for women and the slow judicial progress in such cases has been simmering for sometime.”
The government needs to be proactive and keep the promises that it made to the nation after the incident. The war on feudal and patriarchal mindsets is a long and hard one it states, giving an example of how while the protests were going on “Punjab policemen asked a rape victim: ‘How did they touch your chest? Did they first open the shirt or jeans?’”
The edit acknowledges that we will all go back to our lives soon, but the feeling that the rape victim’s life was wasted unnecessarily “may again come tumbling out in the open if the necessary and promised actions are not taken now.”
Be a good neighbour – Editorial
The edit comments on Nepal’s failure to get its act together a decade after the end of a civil war. “Nepal has a last-mile problem and traversing this last bit of institution-building is proving much more difficult than anyone had expected.” It also commends India’s policy to not overtly influence the process and states that it is a good one “given the strong, almost paranoid, response of many Nepalese to any intrusion by New Delhi.”
The edit likens Nepal to “in many ways a miniature version of India’s own functioning anarchy” and states that “letting them experience an extended crisis may be the best way to help them arrive at the common decisions that have so far evaded them.”
India is a functioning anarchy?
The Indian Express, December 31, 2012
Breaking the standstill – Editorial
The edit asks for an end to policy paralysis in the new year. It adds that with the current standstill state of our economy, it will be doing well even if it simply begins to walk. With the current state of the US there is “a very thin sliver of money available for India and China”. But India will have to improve its economic condition to make use of this opportunity.
Teachable moments – Editorial
The edit praises the IIT council’s proposal to have the institutes’ postgraduate and doctoral students teach undergraduates to make up for staff shortages. It states that this is on the pattern of many research universities, where graduate students assist in undergraduate teaching courses. Also talks about the proposed fee hike which might make IITs more financially independent.
Past perfect – Editorial
In light of the move by Sistine Chapel to vacuum-clean visitors who enter the Chapel, the edit points to our degenerating historical monuments. Listing the state of various monuments, it proves its point that the culture of conservation and restoration is “woefully inadequate” here.
Full Article: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/past-perfect/1052237/
Remaking ourselves – Main Article
CPM politburo member Brinda Karat writes that the recent rape in Delhi should spur the government into action for reform in sexual assault laws and procedures. She points out the many deficiencies she sees in the amendments in the IPC and CrPC concerning rape and sexual harassment.
These are: In making the law gender neutral, it “trivialises the experience of women victims”; it does not include marital rape; it retains words like “outraging modesty of a woman”; it doesn’t include a time-bound framework; although the bill includes the maximum term of life imprisonment for rape, it doesn’t specify that an aggravated rape life imprisonment should be till death.
She also adds that laws and their implementation alone will not be enough, and gender sensitisation also should take place, especially for our elected representatives.
The new Bhutto – Article
The Friday Times editor Raza Rumi writes on Bilawal Bhutto’s first political address which he made on the fifth anniversary of his mother’s death. Rumi points out Bilawal’s strong anti-extremist stance, and compares him with Benazir who was also forced to enter into politics at 24 after her father was jailed. He says that it will not be easy for Bilawal to gain the confidence of both the party and the people. His biggest challenge is extremism and the physical threat it poses to Pakistan’s political class.
The Times of India, December 31, 2012
Enough Is Enough – Editorial
The edit strongly states that all Nirbhaya wanted was to be safe and have an education. “The litmus test is what they are willing to do to combat the rising graph of barbaric violence against women. Security, after all, isn’t for VIPs alone. It’s a fundamental human entitlement.”
The edit reminds us that “Back in 2006, Supreme Court had mandated sweeping police reforms, including a police complaint authority to pronounce binding recommendations in response to public complaints in every district. There has been little progress on this, mainly because control over police forces is seen as a fundamental perk of political power.” Along with police reforms, we need judicial reforms as well.
“It has become clear that when masses of citizens collectively raise their voices in a common cause, the government cannot ignore them. Words, intentions and assurances will not suffice any more.”
Thinking Outside The Box Office – Main Article
Srijana Mitra Das, Assistan Editor, Times of India, writes on how three news stars emerged in Bollywood in 2012 – location, narration and women. Taking a dig at the Abhijit Mukherjee brand of commodification of women, she writes “Painted, dented or tormented, strong female characters occupied the heart of hits, from the enigmatic Vidya of Khaani to the shy shashi of English Vinglish and the satiny Simran of Taalash.”
Behind the camera too, female directors like Reema Kagti, Zoya Akthar and Gauri Shinde made powerful films (Taalash, Zindagi Na Milegi Doobara, English Vinglish) with a female gaze that was “so different from male directors”. “Films that succeeded were sharp and bright, deeply rooted, entertaining but real – just like their enlightened modern viewers.”
She ends by writing that the spotlight is now on the fourth new star of the movie world – you the viewer, for whom “cinema – just like politics – must change its worldview to be a hit”.