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NC Suggestions: The Best Opinion Pieces Of The Day

Here's a curation of the opinion pieces that caught our attention today.

  • Anti-Muslim tweet: How Michelin-star chef Atul Kochhar learned bigotry is bad for business

Priya Ramani writes in her opinion piece for Scroll.in about the Twitter post by the London-based chef of Indian origin targeting Priyanka Chopra which has led to a call to boycott his restaurants. She begins by stating that it is not okay to brandish your bigotry on your Twitter timeline. Paying customers do not like haters, especially if they are public figures who have two Michelin stars. Atul Kochhar just got a lesson in the power of consumer boycotts on the microblogging site.

Kochhar’s timeline rarely strays from bland tweets about food and his television appearances. Until now, I have thought of him as a guy who would probably get irritated with you if you frequented restaurants that served basa (he is big on sustainable fishing, according to Wikipedia). Now he is just more confirmation that the world is getting uglier and that hate – not just against Muslims – lives everywhere, even under celebrated cooking aprons.

In recent years, consumers have repeatedly demonstrated to brands that hate can be bad for business. There has been some pressure on companies across the world to clearly announce their stand on hate speech and fake news.

  • Polls Are Best Kept Apart

Commenting on Narendra Modi’s idea of simultaneous elections, Shantaram Naik in his column with The Indian Express, said that this step may appear to be purely reformist but in reality, it’s an unconstitutional measure and should not be pushed down the throats of people.

There is a misconception that an amendment to the Representation of Peoples’ Act 1951 is all that is needed for holding simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies. But why has the Union Law Ministry not prepared a draft constitutional amendment and put it up for public comments? If the ministry were to attempt such an endeavour, it will realise the hollowness of the concept. Discussions with the public, political parties and all other stakeholders would have to be reflected in the bill. The most sensitive aspect of the matter, however, is that holding a simultaneous election to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies will require making changes to the Constitution’s basic structure.

Apart from the basic structure, the federal structure of the polity — itself a part of the basic structure — will collapse like a pack of cards if an amendment to the Representation of People’s Act is approved by Parliament.

  • Litter of the law: How we Indians turn India into a rubbishy place

In a column for The Times of India on Wednesday, Jug Suraiya highlighted the ill-treatment of nature and law by the residents of India. The MC made a badminton court, a basketball court and a circular track for joggers and walkers. Flowers and shrubs made the place look as pretty as a picture.

But all too soon a few residents of the colony found a new use for the park. They began to turn it into a garbage dump. Among the flowers and trees, strange blooms began to blossom: discarded chocolate and cookie wrappers, empty soft drink bottles and cans, tin foil namkeen packets. The residents of the colony belong to the educated class. So why would some of them – admittedly only a few – display such antisocial behaviour?

Maybe the best way to combat such behaviour is to create a new caste which should be shunned by all right-thinking and socially aware people. A caste called litterbugs. Or, better still, litter buggers.

  • Need for a national conversation

Analysing Pranab Mukherjee’s demand for a ‘dialogue’ at the RSS headquarter, Jawhar Sircar in his column for The Telegraph states that the last four years have surely been the bitterest in post-Independent India – the most strenuous one for liberals, Democrats and pluralists as they watched the jackboots of the aggressively intolerant trample all over cherished values and institutions. Recent electoral swings against the regime have given some hope, but it would be myopic to ignore the depth to which cancerous cells have penetrated the body polity and to assume that future electoral victories, if any, will blow them away.

Liberals like Shashi Tharoor and Pavan K. Varma have taken the plunge through their books, Why I am a Hindu and Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker, encouraging debate and trying to recover Hinduism from uneducated trolls. India is, after all, created out of a wondrous equilibrium that resulted from the untiring dialogue between originally hostile forces and ideas. It is, indeed, a metaphor for the ‘management of contradictions’ that has worked through argument, accommodation and assimilation.

  • Potholes: Here to stay like cockroaches

In a column for The New Indian Express, V. Ravichandar poses the classic question about the chicken and the egg – which came first? The same could be asked of potholes and roads! Our untarred road sections resemble the Mars landscape and tarred road design aims to ensure we don’t miss them potholes. Potholes dot our civic ‘roadscape’ across the city. Today’s puddle is tomorrow’s pothole, as asphalt and water just don’t get along. And our road designers have ensured that all water does not drain away so that we can have a fair share of these natural speed breakers. And some of the biggest potholes tend to near signal intersections slowing us all down!

Off late, the city authorities believe that white topping (concrete roads) is the answer but if its ever cut, the repaired portions are worse than potholes. Filling potholes is a profitable exercise for the contractors. Keeps repeating and no clear count of what got done. And nothing like a crisis with everyone hollering for action to get adhoc fund releases for civic work sans processes. Unless this approach changes and we think about the cost, these roads can have on our lives, potholes will be around for generations. With cockroaches and mosquitoes.

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