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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

For Whom The Bells Troll

Apoorvanand writes in his column for The Indian Express that BJP leader Ram Madhav (‘Trust your leader’, IE, July 6) asks his “social media activist” friends not to waste their time on Union Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj since she is one of their own.

He also appeals to them not to let go the “regressive Muslim cleric”, who performed nikah between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man and “forced” the former to change her name. It is not difficult to see that Ram Madhav’s concern is not the threat of violence; he only seems to want the target to be Muslims. He warns his co-travellers not to get distracted by a humanistic digression by Swaraj. Note that the online hate mongers are addressed as social media activists.

What is the substantive crime, which has now been entirely forgotten? It is the crime of the official at the Lucknow passport office who harassed Tanvi Seth and her Muslim husband, Anas Siddiqui. He asked him to convert to Hinduism, castigated Tanvi for marrying him and changing her name in her nikahnama.

The transfer of the official after Seth’s complaint is a light punishment since a government official is expected to work as per the letter and spirit of the Constitution. Sushma Swaraj wants the difference of opinion to be expressed with civility. But hatred for Muslims, Christians and outsiders, in short, Others, is not just another opinion which can be aired while maintaining civil pretensions. Her kind of nationalist politics needs it, for this hatred for the manufactured Other is its lifeblood.

The Mirage of MSPs: NDA government’s pre-election scheme for farmers is a game of smoke and mirrors

Jyotiraditya M Scindia says that the “historic” increase in minimum support price (MSP) for kharif crops announced by the government is too little, too late in the coming. In his article for The Times of India, he writes a closer look betrays the harsh reality behind this gimmick and exposes it for what it really is – smoke and mirrors intended to mislead farmers of the country after four years of total neglect and apathy.

Merely announcing MSPs will do precious little as long as there is no effective procurement system in place. Procurement is key to the success of this price support mechanism. But procurement by the government is mostly limited to wheat and paddy, and then too, only a third of the total produce.

Until the government actually walks its talk and guarantees the price to the farmer by putting in place a sound procurement infrastructure and buying the produce, this “historic” promise will continue to languish on paper. Further, the government must also increase investment in agriculture infrastructure, ensure easy and affordable access to credit for farmers, and simultaneously focus on R&D in agriculture to introduce farmers to best practices.

December 16 gang rape verdict: A death sentence lulls us into a false sense of security

Commenting on the recent judgement of Supreme Court which dismissed the review petitions of three accused in Nirbhaya case, Maitreyi Misra writes for Hindustan Times that the death sentence is, in any case, neither a short-term nor a permanent solution to sexual offences against women, for the simple reason that punishment must necessarily attend to the perpetrator post-fact.

A solution examines the underlying causes of the problem and addresses those causes in order to prevent the problem from reoccurring. What the death sentence, very cleverly does, though, is through misdirection, lull us into a false sense of security. As with the Ordinance, having the death sentence on the table completely alters the frame of reference in which we define the problem itself. The discourse shifted to an entirely different plane and allowed the problem to be defined in terms of punishment.

It eclipsed any attempt to understand the causes and nature of sexual violence against children, the efficacy of the current legal framework as a redressal mechanism, the hurdles in its implementation, and most of all, the needs of the child victim in and outside the justice system.

By lionising lynching convicts, Jayant Sinha is strengthening Sangh’s project to legitimise hate

In his column for Scroll.inHarsh Mander writes that the scenes outside the prison in Ranchi bring back memories we associate with India’s freedom struggle. Political workers jailed for their principled, fearless struggles – mostly non-violent, on occasion violent – against British colonial authority would be detained, sometimes for years.

On their release, they would be greeted as heroes, in the way the six men were honoured. But who were the heroes the Union minister chose to honour? What battle were they fighting? Whose blood had they shed, and why? Social media exploded with outrage at the fact that a man of Sinha’s education and privilege could extend support to men convicted of lynching. Sinha was raised in privilege and educated in some of the world’s most reputed institutions.

Jayant Sinha is not alone in his cabinet, and indeed in his party, for publicly honouring people charged with murder by lynching of Muslim men. His cabinet colleague Mahesh Sharma wrapped in the national flag the body of a man accused of being part of the mob that lynched Mohammed Akhlaq in a village in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, in 2015 over rumours that he had stored beef in his kitchen.

When the history of these times is written, let it be said that the crime of Jayant Sinha and his ilk is to have poisoned India’s bloodstream with a toxic hate. Their felony is more grievous, more dangerous, more horrific than the bloody acts of public violence and terror because these are annihilating India’s moral core.

Don’t blame it on WhatsApp: on rumours and lynch mobs

WhatsApp cannot and should not perform the duties of a democratically elected government, writes Apar Gupta in his column for The Hindu. He says that a ‘serial killer’ painted in a luminescent green is on the loose and travels in the pockets of more than 200 million people in India. As per public commentary, it is WhatsApp that has caused the loss of more than 20 lives in the past two months alone in the country.

The government maintains no central data on public lynchings. In the absence of official data or a substantive law, media reports, which quote the police, become the principal source to build a public narrative. These lynchings are not removed from the trend of mob lynchings spurred by cattle preservation laws.

Taken together, these three facts indicate our willingness to reach for quick and easy fixes which are harmful public policy prescriptions. We ignore the problems within our legal framework and law enforcement and prescribe policy choices with the same ease with which we install applications on our smartphones. Such framing is leading to WhatsApp being made the principal offender in designing a technical architecture, which offers security, privacy and has expanded the avenues of free expression and political organising for masses of Indians.


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