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Rajmohan Gandhi on the way forward in Kashmir & Sanjaya Baru’s advice to Nirmala Sitharaman

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

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Way forward in Kashmir

Rajmohan Gandhi | Research professor at Centre for South Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
The Indian Express

Gandhi traces the history of Kashmir and its integration with independent India and then argues that calls for Kashmir’s separation from India would “hurt Muslims” in other parts of the country — it also makes no sense as India is not a “Hindu state”. He expresses concern over the sizeable number of newly elected MPs who want India to “become a Hindu state”. Gandhi urges everyone — including the Modi government — to “reflect carefully” on the abolition of Articles 35A and 370 and the settlement of sections of Hindu and Sikh populations in Kashmir. Any attempts to change the Valley’s “status and demographics” will only “intensify alienation”. An “honest” and “multi-layered dialogue” with all stakeholders, including “representatives from Pakistan” is the only way forward, he says.

India’s Tryst With Prosperity

Arghya Sengupta | Research Director, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, and
Lalitesh Katragadda | Internet pioneer
The Times of India

The writers bemoan the state of land reforms in India with respect to legal ownership and explain how this factor has consistently disadvantaged farmers. Civil cases of land disputes have also prevented adequate capitalisation for economic growth, say the writers. They contrast this with the US where 40 per cent capitalisation of land was made possible through “conclusive title” and “clear boundaries”. They suggest three land reform measures, which could generate $4 trillion over 10 years and alleviate farmers’ woes. First, India should drop its “loose property descriptions by patwaris” and adopt “digital GPS boundaries” that identify the “unique owner” of a piece of land. Second, the “state” must “conclusively” guarantee land titles to its people. And third, property documents should be made transferable in a “demat form like shares of a company in the stock market”.

Children will not learn in a hegemonised system

Janaki Rajan | Teaches at faculty of education, Jamia Millia Islamia
Hindustan Times

Rajan says it is the “opportune time” now to deliberate on the “agenda for education” given the ongoing debates on the draft National Education Policy (NEP), 2019. It is imperative for the new government to consider the “nature” of the knowledge systems it wants to promote —“several” systems of knowledge exist in India from different faiths. She quotes former President Zakir Husain who spoke of his idea of an education system that “teaches one community to trust another”. Rajan also mentions that the BJP and the RSS have “reviled scholarship” — particularly in literature and social sciences of the last 70 years.

Inhumane, and utterly undemocratic

Gautam Bhatia | Delhi-based lawyer
The Hindu

The recent Sanaullah case has highlighted the several flaws of the Assam Accord that determine the citizenship of an individual. Mohammad Sanaullah, a former Army officer, was detained after a Foreigners Tribunal declared him an illegal immigrant after an “administrative error”. According to Bhatia, “over the last few years ‘administrative errors’ of this kind are the rule rather than the exception”.

He argues that for something as important as citizenship “one would expect these systems to be implemented as carefully as possible, and with procedural safeguards.” However, this is not the case. In many instances, the legally mandated tribunal is never held and those that are held habitually declare individuals to be “foreigners,” based on “clerical errors”. Even the NRC, the other process of determining citizenship, “has been defined by sealed covers and opaque proceedings”. They use obscure methods such as “the family tree method” to ascertain citizenship, which most people are unable to provide.

Bhatia says the Supreme Court needs to play a more proactive role and “national introspection” is required “about a situation where, in the State of Assam, thousands of people languish in detention camps for years” — victims of a process they don’t completely comprehend.

India must get over its defeatism on manufacturing

Nitin Pai | Co-founder and director, The Takshashila Institution

Pai writes on how the cabinet committee on investment and skill development should look at “manufacturing defeatism” that India has trapped itself into. He writes on how India’s public policies do not “seriously try to attract investments in large scale manufacturing”. “He points out that only a few states have “coherent policies to allocate large plots of land for industrialization” and “use the constitutional leeway they have to reform their labour laws to permit mass employment”. With the ruling BJP in power in many states and at the Centre as well, Pai writes it is time to clear the decks for large-scale manufacturing.

Building a specialised supervisory cadre at the central bank

Amol Agrawal | Faculty at Ahmedabad University
Business Standard

Agrawal writes on RBI’s recent decision to create a specialised supervisory and regulatory cadre, and points out that it is not clear what will be the additional role that this cadre will enjoy given that the central bank already has departments to look at banking regulation, supervision and non-banking regulation. He writes on how it would have been better if the RBI board had highlighted where the existing departments “fell short and then suggested a remedy”. The central bank should clarify on how the new cadre will add value to the RBI given the criticism over its lack of supervision in the NPA and fraud crisis.

FM, Since You Know Your Defence

Sanjaya Baru | Distinguished Fellow, Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses
Economic Times

Baru writes on how Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s focus in Budget 2019 has to be fiscal discipline, pointing out that an “FM’s Dharma demands commitment to fiscal responsibility”. He writes on how Sitharaman is well-versed with the other crucial areas that demand policy attention — industry, commerce and defence. He says the finance minister has to increase the investment rate back to 35 per cent — as seen in the early 2000s — and make “Make in India” a priority. Sitharaman should present a detailed statement on defence finances and manufacturing and incentivise Indian businesses. Baru says she also needs to build a globally competitive economy at home.

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