Ashok Malik | Distinguished fellow at Observer Research Foundation
Malik writes that after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, India has successfully convinced the world that its government’s actions in Kashmir are “well-intentioned”, but Pakistan’s determination to keep the issue alive cannot be underestimated.
Pakistan hopes for two things, writes Malik. First, Pakistan is betting on violence in Kashmir, as Prime Minister Imran Khan has predicted in his UN General Assembly speech. Second, Pakistan is actively working with its diaspora networks and political allies in the West. The moment the ‘Howdy Modi!’ event was announced, the Pakistani consul general was replaced with someone who could mobilise a big protest. The US liberal media has been receptive of Pakistan and Democrat presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris could further the cause. In the UK, the Pakistani vote is quite sought after, causing Jerermy Corbyn and his Labour party to “declare war” on India. But Pakistan will still lose as it knows it’s on the wrong side of history and has begun to show signs of defensiveness, concludes Malik.
Ruchir Sharma | Global investor and author
The Times of India
Sharma observes that autocratic strongmen today are viewed by global investors as “promising economic reformers”. Markets respond to leaders like Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been criticised for his apathy towards the Amazon forest fires, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, whose military regime has caused huge protests recently as well as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. Brazil, under Bolsonaro, and Egypt, under the crown prince, have ranked as the world’s “hottest stock markets”.
Markets are “amoral” and ignore the political actions of strongmen as they don’t face much resistance from their own legislatures or courts. Mainstream media narratives and market narratives are starkly contrasting. The Wall Street Journal reports don’t mention the “autocratic tendencies” of Brazil, Egypt and Saudi Arabia; instead they describe these countries as pursuing progressive reforms. Egypt was even described as having the “best reform story”. As more “illiberal leaders” rise, there will be more “strongmen the market can love,” concludes Sharma.
Radha Kumar | Author of Paradise at War: A Political History of Kashmir
We need to analyse the Modi government’s security argument for its action in Kashmir, writes Kumar. According to the government, diluting Article 370 and bifurcating the state into two union territories will ensure improved security – with the curfew and lockdown necessary to stop “security deterioration”. But if the new policy was meant to improve security, why does it require the lockdown, asks Kumar.
The Modi government admits that preventive detentions and deployment of thousands of troops is meant to counter anticipated opposition to its new policies. Kumar then asks, if the government knew its policies would lead to protests then why did they introduce them anyway? Has the new policy made our security force more or less vulnerable than before?
Forces have not been able to “plug the gaps” along the LoC with Pakistan, as 60 terrorists have reportedly infiltrated Indian territory last month. Cross-border militants, who were earlier unwelcome, might now have a sanctuary thanks to widespread resentment in the Valley. The move has also put a lot of pressure on our troops too, who lack required “protective equipment needed to deal with internal security”.
Ashok Gulati |Infosys Chair Professor for Agriculture
Harsh Wardhan | Consultant, ICRIER
The Financial Express
Gulati and Wardhan analyse the spike in onion prices last week and state that the primary reason for it is the lack of farmer-friendly policy decisions. In January and May 2019, kharif and rabi onions were sold at low wholesale prices and “farmers incurred massive losses… running into hundreds of crores of rupees”.
The government’s recent efforts to tackle this price rise by “restricting exports through high MEP (minimum export price), and dumping imported onions below cost,” are also “anit-farmer” moves and “must be avoided at all costs,” they write. This will also make India an “unreliable exporter” and would decrease “unit value of exports”.
Gulati and Wardhan recommend three solutions for this – increasing the wholesale price of onions for farmers, a “major overhauling” of Agriculture Produce Market Committee reforms to provide the farmers with more bargaining power and promoting the use of dehydrated onions to take pressure off during lean seasons.
Chaitanya Kalbag |Former Asia Editor, Reuters
The Economic Times
Declining bird populations, accelerating glacier melt and other “fast and ominous” warnings indicate that Greta Thunberg, Swedish schoolgirl-activist, was right, says Kalbag. Kalbag refers to Thunberg’s speech at the UNGA last Monday, and adds that while “urgent action will only make the consequences of global warming more manageable”, it won’t be a permanent solution.
India needs “a robust, nonpartisan, strategic framework for climate-friendly development” headed by “a powerful figure”, writes Kalbag. The Centre’s policies are “bafflingly contradictory” like promising to generate 40 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 even though population explosion and our growing economy won’t reduce the national carbon footprint. The coal industry, which accounts for 75 per cent of our electricity generation and received a push from new FDI norms, will counter India’s commitment to renewables. Kalbag also criticises PM Modi’s grand promises at the UNGA like expanding the Jal Jeevan Mission while pledging to provide piped water in every rural household by 2024 — a classic “cart before the horse challenge”.
Sandipan Deb | Editorial director at Swarajya magazine
In a scathing piece, Deb describes young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg as a poster child for hard-left ideologues who want to “blackmail the world into paying heed to their dangerous agenda”. He accuses her parents and handlers of child abuse by “carting” her around the world instead of providing her therapy for her Asperger’s, obsessive compulsive disorder and selective mutism.
Thunberg’s “doomsday sermon” at the United Nations Climate Action Summit last Monday created panic about a climate crisis that is sure to correct itself in time, writes Deb. “Apocalyptic predictions are hardly new”, he writes, adding that global carbon intensity has been on the decline for half a century now. Thunberg’s movement is a call to the “pre-industrial world” that ignores innovation, progress and what an electric or gas connection means to the poor. Research in energy alternatives is a viable solution, one that can also lift many out of poverty faster, writes Deb.
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