Wednesday, 19 January, 2022
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TCA Raghavan on India’s Pakistan policy, and Harsh Mander on what he ‘dreads’ Modi govt will do

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

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Pakistan is on a path of its own

TCA Raghavan | Retired diplomat, director general, Indian Council of World Affairs
Hindustan Times

Raghavan says that while the new Modi government armed with a “massive mandate” encourages India to be “ambitious’’ in its foreign policy, there are two issues of paramount importance with respect to the India-Pakistan relations. First, the success and implementation of much of India’s policy on Pakistan has come to depend on what internal changes Pakistan has been going through be it the turbulence in its economy or the “unpredictability” surrounding the civil-military equations. The writer goes on to say that the origins of the latter can “often” be held responsible for the “origins” of the downfall of India-Pakistan relations, adding that India does not have a policy “instrument” to deal with this.

The second point is the “nature” of India’s Pakistan policy itself which has often seen “dialogue”, “normalisation”, “stabilisation”, “peace process” and “conflict resolution” get “coalesced”. He suggests that it could be “desirable” if these actions could be internally separated and sequenced.

A summary of fears and possibilities

Harsh Mander | Human rights worker, writer and teacher
The Hindu

Mander writes about “a mounting disquiet” that the re-election of the Modi government has brought to fore. “The signals are of a much more openly ideologically-driven government than even the first tenure of Mr. Modi…” He lists out things which he hopes, “this government will not do, but intensely dread(s) that it will.” He fears a rise in hate speeches and lynchings. The National Register of Citizens “will manufacture statelessness at a scale no country has known” he writes.

He also fears that cases of Hindutva terror will be whitewashed and cow vigilantism will lead to loss of livelihoods for many Dalits and Muslims. Kashmir will “burn with an even more muscular militarist approach” while the government will pave way for the Ram temple in Ayodhya. Dissent will be curbed in universities and textbooks will be altered to plant “RSS’s version of history”. Above all, Mander fears that “the country we give our children will no longer be a place of freedom and justice, or even ordinary kindness”.

Dream Or Nightmare? Why India should postpone its electric vehicle plans for ten years

Ajay Srivastava | Indian Trade Service officer
The Times of India

Srivastava speaks about electric vehicles (EV) and how lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) its most critical part, has limitations that have prevented widespread adoption of these vehicles. He elaborates on reasons why India need not hurry in adopting EVs for the next 10 years. He discusses how LIBs are expensive and do not enable long distance travel. The two most-used raw materials for LIBs, lithium and cobalt are in “short supply” as there are few countries who have reserves of these metals. He also says that work on “inexpensive next-gen” batteries is only at its “beginning stage” and hence India must gear up to face the “coming disruption in the automobile industry” because of competition from EVs and take the next 10 years to invest in “next-gen battery technology” and reduce dependency on other countries.

Forging national security

Arun Prakash | Retired chief of naval staff
The Indian Express

Prakash dwells on what the scope of national security for India should be and reflects on the urgency to bring about defence reforms. He underlines how national security has been “stretched” to include many issues and advises viewing it through a “narrow prism”. India can then come up with a less “ambitious doctrine” which focuses on defence and security only. He also calls for “clarity” of “roles and responsibilities” for the chairman as well as the chiefs of staff committee. He feels that out of all the “expert recommendations” made by the UPA and NDA regimes for defence reforms, the “most significant” is the appointment of the chief of defence staff. He also writes that it would be “myopic” for India if it delayed its defence reforms in the face of China’s “radical military transformation”.

Confronting macro challenges

Shankar Acharya | Honorary professor at ICRIER and former chief economic advisor
Business Standard

Acharya writes about challenges before the NDA government with every key macro economic indicator except inflation “flashing amber or red” signals. He writes on the steps that can be taken to revive growth, investment and employment, and speaks about ways to strengthen financial stability. He highlights the limited space on the fiscal front that need steps to increase GST revenues and the expanding of the direct tax base. He talks about the need to address the NPA problem and stress in the NBFC sector to ensure effective transmission of rate cuts. He also pushes for land, labour and agriculture reforms.

Demolishing the infrastructure: Rate cut appreciated, but need to spur investment

M Veerappa Moily | Congress leader and former corporate affairs minister
The Economic Times

Moily writes how non-performing assets in the banking sector has reached unmanageable levels and the “investment climate” has become “tardy”. He writes on the impact of the IL&FS crisis on the overall financial sector and says that the government has not taken it seriously. The government seems more interested in “winding up the company”. He also says that the new government should “give up its practice of not paying outstanding dues to public sector and other infrastructure companies”. He adds that if there is “no attitudinal change in the government”, India could be headed towards a bigger investment crisis with cascading effects on the economy at large.

Why it is unlikely that AI will be a threat to humans

Soumya Kanti Ghosh | Group chief economic advisor, State Bank of India and

Prithwis K De | London based artificial intelligence researcher

Ghosh and De write that artificial intelligence is least likely to destroy humans as contended by SpaceX founder Elon Musk. They point out how AI has been playing a huge role in detection and creating antidotes for maladies that are affecting 95 per cent of the world’s population. Better disease detection and timely treatments can bring down mortality rates and increase life expectancy over a period of time, they write, adding how accuracy of disease detection will improve if AI and humans join hands. They also write that this doesn’t mean machines will stop needing highly-skilled humans to create machines and low-skilled people to run them.

With inputs from Rachel John

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  1. Harsh Mander and other former cheerleaders of the Congress have been singing this same shrill song since the days of the Vajpayee government. In 2024, then 2029, then 2034, elections will come and go and Harsh Mander and others like him will still be writing the same opinion pieces predicting danger to democracy, India becoming Nazi Germany or Israel and so on. Even they know it’s nonsense, but their job is just to try and influence as many readers as possible to vote against the BJP.

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