Apoorvanand | Professor of Delhi University
The solace we may take in BJP chiding its Bhopal candidate Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur for her ‘Nathuram Godse a patriot’ remark has obscured the fact that her candidature has been presented as a befitting reply to India’s secular politics, writes Apoorvanand. He says BJP’s theory that a Hindu cannot indulge in terrorism is being “thrown” at the public with Thakur’s nomination. BJP’s act of rebuking Thakur was a “clever ploy” but some “respectable people” think Godse was right in objecting to Gandhi’s appeasement of Muslims. Meanwhile, the RSS had disowned Godse so that it could continue with its work on majoritarian ideas. The writer says it requires intelligence and humanity to be able to listen to Gandhi.
Roshan Kishore | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Kishore points out that although the 2019 exit polls project yet another term for the Narendra Modi-led NDA government, the 2004 exit polls had got the trend wrong.
He highlights two challenges the exit polls face. One is the conversion of vote shares into seats — exit polls do not disclose their methodology in doing this. Second is the concern to ensure representation in the sampling of exit polls. He cites as an example the India Today-Axis poll and says that one does not know if the 1,400 sample per constituency is balanced enough. If exit polls maintained transparency on methodologies, then predicting election results would be more informed.
Chidanand Rajghatta |Foreign Editor
The Times of India
Rajghatta writes when so much is happening in the world, India has been occupied with an “overdose of electioneering”. He believes India needs to shake off its inertia and the belief that it is doing well given how it has lagged behind China — it was once on par in it in the 1980s. He holds the UPA’s 10-year tenure and the BJP-led NDA tenure responsible for India falling even further behind now. India needs to discover how it can prosper whether it makes “love or war” with China as well as end its obsession with Pakistan. The US-China trade dispute and the “flux” in Middle East are a test case of how India will respond to these changing global developments.
Zehra Naqvi | Freelance journalist
The Indian Express
Naqvi says it is “presumptuous” to think a Muslim needs to look a certain way. Being a hijab-clad woman who chooses to assert herself in the mainstream is like being a walking target for “counter-terrorism operations”. She asks whether looking like a Muslim justifies one be “marginalised” or “demonised”. Naqvi argues that just as one can be a practising Muslim without wearing a hijab, one can also wear a hijab if she is a secular. Young Muslim women today have made the choice to go ahead and “own the hijab”. Banning the hijab or burqa for those unable to exercise such a choice will not empower them — giving them access to mainstream education and job opportunities will.
Neeraj Kaushal | Professor, Social Policy, Columbia University
Kaushal urges a focus on quality education, something that is missing from political parties’ agendas. For the young voters, especially those born after the 1992 Babri mosque demolition, what matters most is the quality of education which will help them get jobs. Until now quality education was restricted to the rich and those in cities. While India has produced the best scientists, engineers and doctors, 57 per cent citizens cannot even do basic mathematics. In 2009, India ranked 72nd among 74 countries in the Programme for International Student Assessment. Instead of addressing the challenge, both the UPA and NDA governments ignored the assessment and have done nothing to improve the quality of education.
Ajay Shah | Professor, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy
Shah notes that Indian stock market’s prediction and assessment of future profit growth has been poor. Stock markets have often been linked to elections, but in reality political parties, governments and elections have little bearing on their performance. Shah argues that on 17 May, 2004 when the UPA-I came to power with the support of the Left parties, Nifty saw its biggest ever one-day decline, creating panic. However, most companies, subsequently, performed well, registering profits and the markets recovered in no time. Similarly, 2013 onwards, stock markets remained optimistic with expectations of a change in government. The results that companies are likely to post in Q2, 2019, are still unknown, but they are unlikely to see strong net growth. These instances reflect the inability of the Indian stock market to absorb the information from an election outcome. Macro forecasting needs more focus by the finance fraternity.
Deepanshu Mohan | Associate professor of economics, OP Jindal Global University
The current breakdown in trade negotiations between the US and China will hurt the former as well, writes Mohan. There’s no evidence that US manufacturers will benefit from the increase in tariffs on imported Chinese goods – those will be borne by the American seller or consumer. Goods such as washing machines, mobile phones, hair dryers, imported from China, cannot be produced in the US at the same price. The Chinese economy will be affected too, and the government is pumping money into it to boost consumption. But, results have been “underwhelming” and a trade war will worsen the situation. However, there is a silver lining for countries like India, Bangladesh and Vietnam, Mohan adds. “In today’s economic landscape, where trade networks determine a given nation’s economic and political strength, it is imperative for emerging economies to make the best possible use of economic uncertainties,” he writes.