Kanwal Sibal | Former foreign secretary
Sibal says that despite attacks from the Opposition and by the “Left-liberal circles” on various issues, Modi won by a huge mandate. He comes down heavily on these critics and says their branding of Modi, since 2002, as an “anti-Muslim Right Wing Hindu nationalist” has led media, academic, civil society groups abroad to think that India is witnessing “fascist” trends, and causing a damage to India’s “soft power”. He condemns the placing Modi within the same bracket as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan or even with US’s Donald Trump. Sibal challenges the “Left-liberal” lobby’s accusation of BJP indulging in “majoritarianism’’ and believes that this group “has transplanted western ideas of secularism and nationalism” to a “politically distorting effect” in India. He claims that “minority-focused secularism” has not been used as a source of “nation-building” in any other country.
Handle with care: Online content viewed privately must be protected, don’t compare it to feature films
Vani Tripathi Tikoo | Actor, producer, youngest member of CBFC
The Times of India
Tikoo sets out to explain why the framework applied to regulating films for theatre release cannot be the same for monitoring online content. She says that even though online content has “democratised entertainment” with its “reach” and “power”, it remains “ungoverned”. Since the censor board in India deals only with theatre releases, and cannot be tasked with regulating online content given the differences in mediums, there is need for a separate approach to monitor online content. Online medium requires “fewer restrictions” since its use is comparatively more private, says Tikoo, but adds that it is necessary to gauge the “weaknesses” of the online medium so that minors can be protected from age inappropriate or “illicit” content. For this, the government could “exchange perspectives and knowledge” with both content creators and its consumers. She also says that governing online content should be done with respect to the cultural context of India.
Ajey Lele | Author and research fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses
The Indian Express
Lele reflects on last week’s announcement by ISRO of plans to build India’s space station towards the end of the next decade. First, he feels India should have been a part of the 16-nation International Space Station (ISS) experiment although he admits that India was excluded from the project’s early stages due to “Delhi’s nuclear policy”. Second, he asks why India is planning for a “very small” space station, i.e. 20-tonne, when ISS’s is 400-tonne and China’s proposed one is 80-tonne, which can accommodate astronauts only for 15-20 days. Third, Lele believes that “cost consideration” will be a major concern and India should consider a public-private partnership model.
S. Irudaya Rajan | Lead author of Kerala Migration Survey 2018, Professor at the Centre for Development Studies, Kerala
Varun Aggarwal | Founder of India Migration Now, Mumbai
Rajan and Aggarwal acknowledge some positive aspects but are largely critical of the Emigration Bill 2019 released in January. The writers appreciate the “inclusion of all students and migrant workers” under the purview of the Bill and the cancellation of the two passports system. However, they feel that the Bill does not address “most trajectories of migration from India” such as the incidents where family migrants change their immigration status to become workers or ensure welfare for “dependent migrants” who face lack of “economic” and political freedom in their host countries. They also criticise the exclusion of “undocumented migrants” from the Bill. Rajan and Aggarwal observe that the student enrollment agencies have been assigned the same regulations as employment recruitment agents. They believe that the Bill does not consider the welfare of return migrants and therefore fails to address the complete migration cycle.
T.T. Ram Mohan | Professor, IIM Ahmedabad
Even as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) reduced policy rate by 25 basis points, Mohan writes that the nagging wonders if liquidity is enough for complete transmission to benefit the overall economy remains. He says that the markets have been jittery for months now as there is a systemic risk in the NBFC sector but there has been no Lehman moment on account of NBFCs so far. He adds the critical point is to ensure adequate capital to the public sector banks. He notes that Arvind Subramanian’s claims of GDP overestimation has proved less explosive than expected and foreign investors and rating agencies have not reacted negatively so far. It shows that the markets are reluctant to buy Subramanian’s theory. Mohan says his findings which are potentially damaging for India have not helped the cause of the “imported” economist.
Nouriel Roubini | CEO, Roubini Macro Associates and professor of economics, Stern School of Business, New York University
The US trade war with China and other countries could impact global supply chains while setting off threats of stagflation — slowing growth alongside rising inflation, Roubini says. The central banks’ ability to serve as lenders of last resort is also being constrained, leading to vulnerability to disruptions. US President Donald Trump could create disruption by creating a foreign-policy crisis with a country like Iran that could trigger an oil shock. Uncertainties may force companies to reduce spending. Both Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping know how important it is to avoid a global crisis yet both are ratcheting up nationalist rhetoric. Even if they agree to restart negotiations during the G20 meet, a comprehensive deal will take time. As the two sides drift further apart, the space for compromise is shrinking, leading to a crisis like situation.
Neeraj Kaushal | Professor, social policy, Columbia University
The Economic Times
Kaushal writes that while employment rate based on the Periodic Labour Force Survey is being compared to jobs data from National Sample Survey Organisation’s (NSSO) Employment-Unemployment Survey (EUS) to draw alarming conclusions that unemployment in India worsened between 2011-12 and 2017-18, the two sets of data cannot be compared. She says job creation during the license-permit raj or during the infamous Hindu rate of growth of 3.5 per cent could not have been higher. “None of the major economic indicators warrants that unemployment in 2017-18 should rise by a factor of two to three over the highest unemployment in five decades,” she says. PLFS has put the credibility of India’s employment data in doubt, writes Kaushal, and the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation needs to restore its credibility.