Monday, 8 August, 2022
HomeThoughtShotSecularists must self critique says Ramesh Venkataram, Talmiz Ahmad on Suleimani killing

Secularists must self critique says Ramesh Venkataram, Talmiz Ahmad on Suleimani killing

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

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Secularism’s Brexit moment 

Ramesh Venkataram | Private equity investor and former McKinsey partner

The Indian Express

Venkataraman writes that “India’s constitutional commitment to secularism is under serious threat”, not because the BJP government “appears determined to undermine India’s secular ethos” but because “popular scepticism of secularism has grown substantially in the last few years”.

He writes that during his travels, he found that the “perceived anti-Muslim measures” are seen “as a good thing not only by Hindutva diehards but increasingly by the ‘moderate middle’.”  “It is no longer a taboo to raise questions that were formerly the preserve of the right-wing fringe about Muslim special privileges, personal law, or patriotism, and correspondingly allege a neglect of Hindu concerns,” he writes.

The “approach of self-righteously throwing the Constitution at anyone who supports the Modi regime’s agenda and demonising them as ‘bhakts’, ‘Sanghis’, or ‘chaddiwallahs’ reminds” him of how “Britain’s liberal elite lost the Brexit battle”. Indian secularists “must wake up to the fact that the discourse on the ground has profoundly altered”.

He suggests that “preserving the country’s secular fabric” will require “secularism’s advocates to urgently and respectfully engage with the ‘moderate middle’.” Moreover, “hardline secularists need to show some humility”. It is not “anti-Muslim to accept where secularism has been compromised in practise”, India “needs its secularists to engage in open and self-critical debate – rather than polarising polemic”.

Assassination’s after effects 

Talmiz Ahmad | Former ambassador to Saudi Arabia

The Times of India 

Ahmad states that the “targeted assassination of Major General Qassim Suleimani” has “exponentially escalated tensions and uncertainties in West Asia”. He argues that the “spoiler for Iran has been the United States”  as President Trump came to power “with a visceral anti-Iran platform that led him to confront Iranian influence across West Asia and even threaten the country with regime change”.

Suleimani “led the fight against the Islamic State and, through his control over the country’s formidable Shia militia, also ensured that pro-Iran governments came to power in Baghdad”. Therefore, the US “came to view Suleimani as its principal hate-figure in Iraq”. Ahmad argues that Trump “certainly needed to remind his constituency that he is a strong and decisive leader who is totally uncompromising and ruthless when it comes to defending US interests”. Moreover, Iran “is not likely to react peremptorily to the US provocation”. At the same time, “it will exact retribution, but at a time and place of its choosing and will select a target which will wound the US but still give Iran a degree of deniability”.

Spotting an opportunity in changing fundamentals 

Sujan R. Chinoy | Director General, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi

The Hindu 

Chinoy maintains that the “‘Phase One’ trade deal between the United States and China gives “both sides a reprieve”.

He writes that China “continues to buy Iranian crude oil and is its largest buyer” and argues that “in tensions with the U.S., Iran sees in China a sympathiser”. “China’s interest in Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering and interest in weakening the dollar in the global energy market has grown, he writes, adding that it is further “forging closer ties with oil producers that are in the U.S.’s cross hairs on human rights and governance issues”. He states that “as U.S.-China tensions drive supply chains out of China, India could emerge as an alternative destination with the right policies”. Additionally, “China’s economic success has emboldened it such that it challenges the liberal democracy model and offers an alternative developmental model based on its own system”.

In conclusion, Chinoy writes that “U.S.-China rivalry coincides with an upward trajectory in India-U.S. relations”. This is “important for equilibrium and multi-polarity in Asia, even as India and China try and build much-needed trust and cooperation”.

Lifting growth, containing inflation

Ashok Gulati | Infosys Chair Professor for Agriculture at ICRIER

Financial Express

Gulati calls for “bold moves” in agriculture reform and grain management system. If the government had a strategy for liquidating excess grain stocks, it could save Rs 50,000 crore annually that can help finance its new investment package for infrastructure of about Rs 102 lakh crore, he explains.

At the moment there is “massive inefficiency in the grain management system under the National Food Security Act (NFSA)”, writes Gulati. There is “massive accumulation of grain stocks” and “disbursal of those stocks remains largely restricted to the public distribution system (PDS)”, he adds.

Gulati presents three solutions to improving food management. First, while the poor get maximum food subsidy, “the issue price should be fixed at, say, 50 per cent of the procurement price (as was done under Atal Bihari Vaypayee for the BPL category)”; second, “limit subsidised grain distribution under NFSA to 40 per cent of the population rather than the current 67 per cent” and finally, reduce the procurement of rice especially in states like Punjab and Haryana where the “groundwater table is depleting fast”.

Five banking trends for the new year

Tamal Bandyopadhyay | Author & senior adviser, Jana Small Finance Bank Ltd

Business Standard

Bandyopadhyay begins by saying the dominant trend in Indian banking in 2020 is that “the pile of bad loans will rise” and what contributes to this, is the increase in “divergence in banks’ estimate of bad assets and the regulator’s assessment”.

This trend, however, has changed given NPA recovery and improved asset quality, he writes. Around December last year, at least three insolvency cases, including Essar Steel’s, got resolved and collectively, the banks recovered close to Rs 50,000 crore, explains Bandyopadhyay.

“The not-so-good news is the low credit offtake” which has been aided by slowing economic growth, poor demand and bankers’ fears of being “grilled” by investigative agencies, he writes.

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  1. ” As you sow, so shall you Reap” The World must pre empt Terrorist Attacks. Why should innocent people die? I dont want to get killed and then my Country takes action. Certainly Not! Do i not have the Right to Live peacefully? Then, eliminate the Killer before s/he kills an innocent person like me. No Mercy for Terrorists whether declared/undeclared. Pukestani Establishment is full of Terrorists apart from the declared ones like hafiz saeed.

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