Americans are split ideologically, but united in thinking that the country is on its way to a disaster.
Americans protesting | Source: Wikipedia Commons
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An abrogation of democratic principles

Navnita Chadha Behera | author of ‘Demystifying Kashmir’ and ‘State, Identity and Violence: Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh’
The Hindu

Behera writes that the recent abrogation of Article 370 will huge consequences for its political strategy in handling internal conflicts. Enumerating three principles that previous political regimes adopted to address internal conflict, she explains why our future might now be uncertain.

The first principle is “adhering to the letter and spirit of the Constitution”. The BJP’s action in Kashmir stands on “legally shaky ground” and shows an attempt to weaken India’s federal character. The second principle, ensuring ‘inclusivity’ when navigating political demands, was ignored by the BJP as it called for a severe lockdown and bifurcated J&K, a move that could deepen communal fault lines in the state. The third principle is about promising dialogue and sharing of political power with all stakeholders. The strong “top-down approach” being exercised currently “runs the risk of discrediting the mainstream politicians and obliterating the middle ground between the militants and mainstream politicians”, Behera argues..

With the abysmal voter turnout in the 2018 panchayat elections, and the abrogation of Article 370, the Kashmiri youth might feel more alienated. The central government will face huge challenges in “identifying credible local partners in ushering in peace to the Valley”, concludes Behera.

Why we need community health providers

Srinath Reddy | president, Public Health Foundation of India, and author of Make Health in India: Reaching a Billion Plus. Views are personal.
Hindustan Times

Reddy writes about the controversy around a provision in the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill that provides limited licences to practice allopathic medicine to community health providers (CHPs).

CHPs are part of a vast medical network: While doctors and nurses are most visible components of this network, they are accompanied by many different health professionals and community health workers (CHWs).

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The place of CHPs under the NMC may be contested, but we do need these mid-level healthcare practitioners to “fill the vast gaps of access and quality in our primary health services”. A solution could be arrived at by bringing CHPs under the category of allied professionals in the new health professionals bill that is due in Parliament, writes Reddy.

Bombs in Sri Lanka, shootings in America: Similar levels of violence, but a different take in travel advisories

Siddharth Shanghvi | Author
The Times of India

Shanghvi writes about the travel advisories issued against Sri Lanka after the 21 April bomb blasts. After a long civil war, Sri Lanka had become a top travel destination in Asia, which supported its “delicate economy”. But after the bombings and a series of travel advisories, hotels, restaurants and shops are now running empty, he says. Such advisories reveal “power imbalances between nations”, claims Shanghvi, pointing out that the recent mass shootings in the US did not trigger any travel advisories.

Ringing in the old

Suhas Palshikar | Writer, former Professor of Political Science at Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, chief editor of ‘Studies in Indian Politics’.
The Indian Express

Palshikar writes that even though Congress took two-and-a-half months to resolve their leadership crisis, but their solution could still be problematic. It is true that Sonia Gandhi has led the party through its crisis in the 1990s, and still enjoys the support of many party workers. But this move still shows “desperation at best and an abdication of politics at worst”.

As party leaders leave to join the BJP, with the added fear that some leaders may form their own political parties, this interim arrangement might be successful in holding on to some leaders. But the party’s ability to attract voters and motivate workers on the ground is more urgent than its internal unity. Gandhi’s return as party president will hamper the real task of party-building, something the Congress has failed to do since the 1980s.

Two things are urgently required: Exemplary leadership and relentless engagement with their network of party workers. It is possible that the Congress is aware of its challenges, but this interim arrangement indicates that the party has started to “look upon itself as an interim party”, concludes Palshikar.

Let Us Wait for a Miracle

Ashok V. Desai | The writer is former chief economist, Union Ministry of Finance
The Economic Times

Ashok Desai argues that one of the important reasons behind the current economic slowdown is that “Indian business is depressed”. He writes that the business industry is pessimistic about India’s growth prospects and not interested in investing. Further, many businesses are finding it difficult to repay their debt, and, thus, can’t invest.

He argues that such businesses would have closed down in a better- run economy but, in India, they can “neither grow nor disappear”. He writes that there are three drivers of growth: External account, the fisc, and investment. For the first, he says it is unlikely that India can have an improved balance of payments (BoP) that can stimulate growth. For the other two drivers, he writes that “the present government does not know macroeconomics” and Indian businesses don’t have the funds to invest.

Only a lucky accident could revive the economy, he writes.

It’s time for India to shed its export pessimism for good

Ajit Ranade | Economist and a senior fellow at The Takshashila Institution

Ajit Ranade argues that India should adopt an export-led growth model. He cites the example of east Asian “tiger” economies, and even China, to highlight the benefits of this approach. He writes that at a recent Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing, “an unnamed government official complained about Indian industry’s still-timid approach to free trade agreements”. He writes that the Indian industry had cautioned the country’s negotiators to be careful, saying that duty-free goods could hurt domestic producers. He notes that India’s share of global merchandise trade is less than 2 per cent and it can easily reach 4 per cent, sluggish global demand and a protectionist world notwithstanding.

He makes the following recommendations: First, he says that India should focus on trade facilitation as “exporters still face an ‘inspector raj’ at the border”. Second, he says India should resolve the problems that hinder the growth of export-oriented Special Economic Zones. Third, he argues, India should “embrace global value chains”.

Hope survives in urban India

Mahesh Vyas | The author is the MD & CEO of CMIE
Business Standard

Mahesh Vyas discusses the rising unemployment rate in India. He writes that the “weekly unemployment rate rose for the fourth consecutive week during the week ended August 11”, putting it “among the highest unemployment rates in the last three years”. He further mentions that this trend of rising unemployment is more pronounced in urban India. He explains that “the increase in unemployment rate in urban India is the result of an increase in the labour participation rate without a corresponding increase in employment opportunities”.

He writes that urban India offers better jobs than rural India, and it is important to ensure that as labour throngs urban markets, they get jobs and not the disappointment of rising unemployment.

Angel Tax: It’s time this colonial hangover gets removed

Siddarth Pai & Krishnan S. | Pai is founding partner 3one4 capital & Krishnan is an independent tax consultant. Views are personal
Financial Express

Siddarth Pai & Krishnan S. make a case for the removal of angel tax. They write that “angel tax”, or Section 56(2)(vii b), is “a 2012 insertion by the then UPA government which taxes domestic capital invested in private Indian entities as income, if the investment was made above the ‘Fair Market Value’”. According to them, this provision has been indiscriminately applied to Indian startups. They write that even though the government has attempted to address this problem, all its measures have fallen short. For instance, while a February 2019 DPIIT circular exempted Indian startups from angel tax up to a raise of Rs 25 crore, “Section 6 of the circular excluded companies who had already received the notice from relief”.

They write that the problem of angel tax cannot be solved by patchwork measures. “Angel tax deserves a surgical strike excision from our statute books,” they recommend.

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