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Kaushik Basu on ‘taming’ Big Tech, Syed Hasnain warns of terror in Kashmir

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

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Warning in the Valley 

Syed Ata Hasnain | Chancellor, Central University of Kashmir

The Indian Express

With the recent “targeting of non-Kashmiris by terrorists” in the state, Hasnain writes that it “revisits a tactical method that terror groups, under the guidance of Pakistan’s ISI, employ to remain relevant and promote Pakistan’s interests.”

A “careful analysis of the trends” shows that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) had decided to “execute a high-profile attack against soft targets in certain areas to announce its arrival and demonstrate its domination of the terror scene.” Hasnain fears that this “tactic would be used again when the levels of frustration of the Pakistani terror groups or the more radical of the Kashmiri terror elements would cross limits.”

He notes that while the “focus of the security establishment would unmistakably have shifted towards the prevention of street agitation and mass protests,” it takes away the focus from “comprehensively neutralising the general ecosystem which enables the Pakistan-sponsored proxies and separatists to challenge the Indian nation’s will.” In conclusion, he asks the establishment to “heed the warning that” both migrant non-Kashmiri and minority elements in Kashmir are “currently vulnerable”.

The Citizenship bill must be opposed

Yamini Aiyar | President and Chief Executive, Centre for Policy Research

Hindustan Times 

Aiyar argues that if the “crucial amendment to India’s citizenship law” is passed, it will “enable” the BJP “to inch closer towards fulfilling its electoral promise of removing ‘infiltrators’ and ‘termites’ from India”. However, this “electoral promise” will be “achieved at the cost of fundamentally undermining the constitutional principle of secularism and altering what it means to be an Indian”.

She states that the CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill) “is a step in the direction of legitimising through law the ideological construction that Hindus are the natural citizens of India”. Furthermore, “by introducing religion directly into citizenship laws” and “making explicit the exclusion of Muslims” the bill “marks a definitive rejection of the constitutional promise of a religion-neutral, universalist conception of [Indian] citizenship,” writes Aiyar.

If amended it will “fundamentally undermine” the “ethos of secularism”. Aiyar notes that the opposition’s failure to “mobilise political resistance to the CAB is worrying”. She adds that “a confused understanding of political relevance” and the “fear of going against the majority opinion” has left the “political Opposition without courage, conviction or legitimacy to challenge the bill”.

Deciphering Greta’s climate message

Krishna Kumar | Former Director, NCERT

The Hindu 

Climate change activist, Greta Thunberg is being “looked at as an emotionally charged icon of environmental struggles” but there is “more to” her point of view “than mere emotion and passionate commitment”, writes Kumar. Through the course of his piece, he deciphers the multiple underlying themes in her speeches.

A “well-recognised issue” is the “direct connection between economic growth and the state of the environment” wherein “devotees of speedy” economic growth have been “indifferent to the limits that nature imposed on the theoretical scope of growth”. Further, “she presented herself as a victim” to the political leaders’ “indifference to climate change”.

Another unsettling point in Thunberg’s speeches, is the reference to “adult-child relations”. Kumar explains that humans “are used to deriving hope from their progeny” while she highlighted that carbon emissions are in fact “crippling the capacities of the young in their early years”. Her primary message was “that we must stop being emotional about our children” and that those who represent us “have compromised the future of our children”. In conclusion, it is the “adults and older people today who might feel rattled” by her speech, and if she got through to them we wouldn’t have to face “nature’s fury”.

Big Tech can be tamed without splitting companies up

Kaushik Basu | Professor of economics, Cornell University


Basu discusses the use of antitrust laws to break up Big Tech or tame it. Big Tech refers to large technological companies like Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft etc. The call for “taming” Big Tech, especially by presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, has come about ever since the internet has “ended up exacerbating the world’s inequality problem”. It has made only a handful of people, like Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, wealthy because when “labour’s share of income declines, capital’s share increases” — a trend that benefits the likes of Bezos.

Giant tech companies have stifled competition because they are “natural monopolies”. Applying antitrust laws to break them up threatens their most “fundamental advantage” and can hamper “their ability to deliver benefits to economies and consumers”, explains Basu. Instead, state intervention should focus on implementing regulations for the dispersal of shares to a large number of individuals or into domestic and global public goods. This way, profits of Big Tech “are more widely shared”, writes Basu.

India’s Global Hunger Index conundrum

Phalasha Nagpal | Young Professional with the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister

Financial Express 

Nagpal breaks down India’s performance according to the Global Hunger Index Report 2019 (GHI) to suggest that though the “rate of overall progress has been tardy”, India has shown consistent improvement since 2000, with the exception of wasting.

She credits the central government with the launch of the National Health Mission – “a comprehensive health scheme” that has addressed disease-related child mortality. Larger budgetary allocation for child health services as well as the scheme’s “‘survive’ and then ‘thrive’ strategy” has helped on this front. The scheme has achieved “appreciable results” but while macroeconomic indicators have seen an upturn, social indicators are lagging behind.

The mortality rate of children under-five years has improved significantly due to the scheme, writes Nagpal. However, she adds that nutritional value in children continues to be low and this is because of “poor maternal nutrition and health”. Women often experience “low and unequal access to family incomes, healthcare and nutrition” that leads to malnutrition, anaemia, etc. Therefore, the path to improving children’s health must pay heed to “long-standing deprivations experienced by our women”, she writes.

India and China in 2022

Tarun Das | Chief executive, director general, and chief mentor of Confederation of Indian Industry (C II)

Business Standard

Das takes a look at the future of India-China relations given that five informal summits between leaders of the two countries have been planned till 2022. The Mamallapuram summit was the second one and three more are scheduled for the next three years. He highlights the various possible outcomes of the summits.

Mutual respect and trust, if not “mutual like”, can be expected in the long-run, writes Das. India and China can potentially reach a “mutual understanding on trade” if India reduces its trade deficit of over $60 billion to make it more “politically palatable”, he adds. Policy and procedures will “restrain investment”, especially in the manufacturing sector, if the trade deficit is not addressed.  China will also have to show “reasonableness towards its smaller neighbours” with smaller economies as it builds stronger trade ties with India, writes Das.

Practical cooperation on terrorism is on the table but military cooperation is a more “sensitive” issue, he writes. “Soft power connect” can also be achieved by encouraging travel between the two nations and easing visa processes, adds Das.

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