Saturday, 22 January, 2022
HomeThoughtShotAmarinder Singh's 'personal connection' to Kartarpur, Pattanaik on myth and history

Amarinder Singh’s ‘personal connection’ to Kartarpur, Pattanaik on myth and history

The best of the day’s opinion, chosen and curated by ThePrint’s top editors.

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Journey to a beginning 

Amarinder Singh | Chief Minister of Punjab

The Indian Express 

Singh recalls a “personal connection” with the Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara built in 1925 “at a cost of Rs 1,35,600”, which was donated by his grandfather Maharaja Bhupinder Singh. He writes that his “cherished aspiration” to visit the “revered gurudwara” is now an “enviable reality”.

He is “pleased to state” that the corridor “is ready to be inaugurated” by Prime Minister Modi on 9 November. This “achievement” is “truly remarkable” because both India and Pakistan “stuck to their deadlines against all odds”.

The opening of the corridor is a “small step forward on a long and difficult road” which the two countries can traverse only if “Islamabad gives up its negative posturing vis-a-vis India,” writes Singh. He maintains that the corridor “will pave the way for harmony between our two nations”. He recommends that Pakistan waive off its $20 pilgrimage fee as a “small way of building trust”. There is a need for the “intent to bury the hatchet” which is “more the responsibility of Pakistan than India”, he adds.

Science versus myths

Devdutt Pattanaik  | Author

The Hindu 

Pattanaik writes that “legends about courage” are considered “textbook material” but not “facts about defeat collated by historians”. Historians disagree with the fact that such legends should be used as instruments “to raise the next generation of patriots” but “they have no power before politicians” who “bind people with a single narrative” and are not “invested in truth as in legend and myth”, he argues.

History is “based on scientific principles of measurements and evidence” but it has become a “serious force among people who wish to control the discourse of a people”. At this point it is controlled by scientists who provide “objective truth” and not “epistemic truth” and are thus hated by priests and politicians. He also argues that meanings of certain words have evolved over time, for instance the word myth in the 19th century meant “falsehood” but is now referred to as the “cultural truth of a people”. Similarly, itihasa meant narratives at the time but is now used for history.

“But this meaning is lost to those who prefer myths, legends and sacred lore to scientific historiography,” writes Pattanaik. Today, historians and poets who point out “unflattering” truths “will be silenced” since “the King” now “decides what our past should be”, he adds.

Time to call out Hindutva

Sanjeev Sabhlok | Senior leader of Swarna Bharat Party

The Times of India 

Nations and nationalism are imaginary “man-made constructs”, which are “made real by erecting and defending boundaries”, writes Sabhlok. He warns that “if we are not careful” we can “end up creating a nation like China or Saudi Arabia where citizens are disposable meat” – where they are “allowed to live if they obey” or are “killed if they ask questions”.

He states that there was “never a more ridiculous idea in India’s history than the two-nation theory”. The two-nation theory resulted in three nations and teaches us that “religion can never form the basis of a nation”.

Sabhlok calls for the need to “re-assemble as a nation and re-define ourselves” and to “choose an India” where “our freedoms are fully defended”. The “insistent calls” for a Hindu rashtra by the RSS “cannot be ignored” and this “poisonous ideology” must be “called out” as the “biggest anti-national project in independent India”.

Financial sector fragility persists

Renu Kohli | New Delhi-based macroeconomist

Financial Express

Kohli debates whether the non-performing assets (NPA) crisis has reversed “after a brief spell of improvement”. There have been nascent upturns since June 2019 but “a setback is not yet visible”, she writes. Following the revised RBI framework, lenders are now inclined to restructure, reorganise or sell these stressed assets, however, this could breed “more severe” problems, explains Kohli.

A build-up of “restructured/reorganised stressed loans” coupled with an increase of gross NPAs could make the financial system more vulnerable, she writes. It could also result in reduced lending – since NBFC lending slowed down at the end of last year. Also, if “further recapitalisation is needed to unclog credit pipelines”, the cycle only “loops back to the fiscal side”, writes Kohli. This means that “growth repercussions could be felt beyond credit supply”, warns Kohli.

Sub-optimal philanthropy is not the answer to inequality

Jagannathan | Editorial director, ‘Swarajya’ magazine

Mint

Jagannathan suggests an increase in corporate and super-rich philanthropy since charities like The Giving Pledge or Pledge1% are inadequate. He writes that “giving small bits of wealth is not going to move the needle on inequality”.

The aim of these charities is to ensure super-rich individuals give 1 per cent of their equity, time, products or profits to charity. Equity here also refers to a startup’s equity that “is of no use when eight out of 10 will not survive [in] five years”, he explains. Taking Infosys and Tata Sons’ into account, Jagannathan asks whether shares intended to generate money for charity “ought to be part of the promoters’ controlling stake”. He credits Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro Ltd, for channeling “two-thirds of the economic benefits of his shareholding to charitable activities”.

For ‘The Giving Pledge’ and other charities to seem less like tokenism, super-rich individuals should leave over 50 per cent of their wealth to charity and also a portion of their current income that “substantially” exceeds the taxes payable on that income, writes Jagannathan.

High levies set to strangle telecom sector

V. Sridhar | Professor, IIIT-Bangalore

Hindu Business Line

The Supreme Court’s verdict that upheld the definition of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) to include all revenues earned by licensed Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) is a “death knell for TSPs”, writes Sridhar.

Despite telecom and broadband Internet having “string multiplier effects on the economy” and being part of India’s “infrastructure backbone”, high regulatory fees have cursed the sector, putting many TSPs in a “debt trap”, writes Sridhar. Universal Service Levy (USL), needs to be reduced as it is higher than international average and Annual Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) needs to be eliminated as it unnecessarily burdens TSPs, he writes. Also, the government should not fix floor prices to solve the “on-going price war between new entrants and the incumbents” in the sector as it could hamper competition.

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