Education policy

As usual, a superb infiltration of government by the Ambanis, with excellently formulated promises, which enables them to avoid regulation and get free publicity for their greenfield university (“Explainer: How Reliance’s Jio Institute was chosen as an ‘Institution of Eminence’”). Other private elites, in India and abroad, will note the business-friendly nature of the government in the allocation of licences for higher education.

The Higher Education Financing Agency is slated to benefit several government-run or government-aided schools, Central universities and medical colleges. Meanwhile, about 700 institutions, most of which actually receive and depend on aid from the University Grants Commission, manage 35,000 colleges and teach a large number of subjects to more than two crore students across India. These subjects include the humanities, commerce, law and social sciences. They also do a modicum of research, have to deal with tough bureaucrats who demand justification for every rupee of public funds spent, confident that these are not the top-ranked ones. Within the UGC and outside, within state governments, educationists and policymakers talk about the need for developing quality higher education in students’ native languages. Dealing with these large-scale issues cannot be a concern of their concurrent partner, the central Ministry of Hurry and Dash, seized with the ideals of minimising government and demonetising governance. – Kamal Lodaya


It is indeed surprising that former Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami could not find six existing institutions of eminence and instead chose the Jio Institute for that category even though it is yet to be set up. I think the government should also start recognising “Potential Industrial Leadership in 2050” and appoint an expert committee headed by Gopalaswami. Naturally, the award will go to the yet-to-be-born great-grandson from the Reliance family. – M Sreehari


I don’t understand what is going on. There are so many IITs and other government colleges that have already established their value, unlike this upcoming institute. On what basis are these people mixing politics with education? This is a wrong decision and people involved in this will surely have to suffer, because intelligent individuals will never support this. – Pooja Pangavhane


This is a clear-cut case of favouritism. One cannot expect anything better from the present government. – Olavo D’Costa

Section 377 debate

I think Section 377 should be struck down completely as it represents the inane laws of the British era, based on British morality and archaic definitions of rape (“Rape laws: Why the Supreme Court must read down Section 377 – but not strike it down in its entirety”). I think the court should banish the Indian Penal Code section and establish new laws on marital rape, paedophilia, or rape of men and trans people. I think the Supreme Court should redefine the rights of women, men, the queer community, trans people and the third gender. I think it’s time that we study our archaic laws and redefine them to serve and protect the people of our great nation. – Kurt Watson

India’s self-goal

Cricket, for some strange and incomprehensible reason, has grabbed all the attention of the younger generation (“The Daily Fix: If tiny Croatia can be a football superpower, why not India?”). This was not so in earlier days. Cricket was one among many games we played. With media and corporate interest making cricket more lucrative, the game has become rich beyond imagination with sponsorship, tax concessions, broadcasting rights and even allotment of villas in gated communities. Governments, politicians and corporations compete to shower the players with more cash and gifts. Other games lack facilities and it is remarkable that our sportsmen still manage to win medals for the country. Our performance in the international arena in track and field events is pathetic. Our youth believe that cricket is the only game worth playing and other sporting events are of no consequence. Nations like China, Japan, and Korea have produced numerous Olympic gold medalists. But in India, any middling cricket player commands greater attention than top class athletes and renowned sportspersons in football or hockey. If only our athletes were encouraged with the sponsorships and rewards that abound in cricket, the picture would have been different. Sadly, this seems unlikely. We are destined to be “world famous” only in cricket. – HN Ramakrishna

Pakistani potboiler

Reham Khan seems to be exactly the opposite of her name (“Bollywood affairs, Indian kids, kaali daal: Imran Khan’s ex-wife spares nothing and nobody in memoir”). She sounds merciless. She is trying to malign not only her husband but the entire family. Some relationships don’t work out, but how can you blame one person? She is making his private life public. This will help her monetarily by making her book a bestseller, and it will also win her the world’s sympathy. This book doesn’t offer any message, it is just an exercise in maligning and exposing her ex in public. – Ilyas

Between the lines

Online streaming platforms are out of the reach of most Indians and whether the subtitles are effective must be the last thing on anyone’s mind (“Why the subtitles for ‘Sacred Games’ are offending both Congress members and Hindutva supporters”). Moreover, Indian filmmakers’ fetishising of crime in parts of the country stems from ignorance. No part of the country is free from crime but all these filmmakers focus on Mumbai. Such films further isolate oppressed sections of the population by portraying them in a negative light. Rather than any individual or religions, it is people from the lower strata of society who should be offended by such creations. A critical evaluation of such series is needed so that this does not become the standard. – Karthik G

Laws of the land

The article says the board has “clarified that the courts will merely interpret Sharia” and adds that Sharia courts are “not a parallel justice system” (“Sharia courts divide opinion even among Muslims – but they are not a parallel justice system”). It then goes on to talk about the case of Rehnuma, 30, a resident of Sahranpur, whose “case went unresolved for over two years. She approached Sahranpur’s Darul Qaza. She obtained a divorce in no time, enabling her to have a nikah”.

It is important to not mix issues. So, let’s talk about coherence of this argument alone. Marriage is a legal matter because it has legal implications (and financial, including taxation, which is a basic tenet of state) unlike love, which is an individual consideration. On the one hand, Faisal Fareed argues that Sharia courts are not a parallel justice system, on the other hand, it has implications of divorce (by extension, marriage) which is a judicial matter. Are we lying to others? Ourselves? Or are we just incapable of comprehension? Are we just being intellectually opportunistic?

Can the same argument not be used for khap panchayats, or Raja Bhaiya’s informal court, or any kangaroo court? Has the speed of delivering justice become more important that the underlying concept of justice itself, which involves creating and following a system, especially a state-driven system instead of an identity-driven one in a secular country?

Now I shall digress. It will be deeply hypocritical to argue that people from minority religions are not being harmed under a majoritarian political agenda of subverting the secular fabric of the country for the short-term benefit of a handful of people. That said, it cannot be used as a basis to contradict oneself and still wish to be right. The BJP may be opposed to this idea for the wrong reason, but it does not make the idea right. If we are not happy with the pace at which courts are working, we need to work towards that. “Courts are slow, so let’s have kangaroo courts” cannot have a higher positioning on the axis of reason.

Perhaps idealism is dead, and the battle that’s left is merely between identities – religious, linguistic, ethnic or whatever else. But if we believe that’s true, at least we can try to have the decency to accept that we are ready to lie and deceive for our goals as those on the other side are for theirs. – Satyam Dheeraj

Ideological divide

I can always identify a weak argument from the secular wing of Indian politics because it starts with the lazy, inaccurate comparison of the BJP to the US (or European) Right Wing (“The Indian Right has adopted an American strategy to demonise the Left. But it’s more dangerous”). Just because “Urban Naxal” and “Cultural Marxist” are both two words long and include the letter “x” does not imply a deeper connection.

The “Urban Naxal” epithet arises from a very specific criticism that BJP/Hindutva acolytes have of secularists: that they advocate for socialist, anti-development, and often anti-Hindu policy ostensibly out of concern for the “downtrodden” or “subaltern”, when these policies and viewpoints are nowhere near as popular among the downtrodden subalterns themselves and are in fact arguably responsible for their downtrodden state. In that way, the BJP/Hindutva wing sees a parallel to the Naxals who claim to fight on behalf of the downtrodden and tribals even while their activities keep many of these same people downtrodden.

Perhaps this viewpoint prevalent among BJP/Hindutva acolytes is inaccurate or worthy of criticism. If so, an article seeking to engage with this viewpoint, rather than making a half-baked comparison to an unrelated term used in US politics, would have been much more insightful. – Sandeep S

Court concerns

The greatest weaknesses are Zverev’s disgraceful on-court antics, shameful comments to the umpire and references to the line judge (“Wimbledon: Sascha Zverev has a Grand Slam problem but, luckily for him, he has age on his side”). How disgraceful that this article barely mentions them, let alone states appropriate condemnation. Age is not on his side at all with an attitude like that. – Leslie Geddes


The article gave a very skewed viewpoint of the match and the parties involved. Ernests Gulbis is so much more that a 138-ranked 29-year-old who hasn’t been able to string more than three wins since 2016 (injuries and subsequent complications have had him sidelined for a while now). A former top-10 player, he is known for a lot more than that solo win over Roger Federer (generally, it’s never a good choice to characterise a player using a single win), his serve in particular, which blasted Zverev off the court in the match. While it’s obviously important to keep a track of the career graphs of top players like Zverev and bring up interesting things like his failure at Grand Slams, a lesser-informed article is never the answer. – Vedant Chandel

Economy matters

That the so-called Modicare would be a damp squib was known right from the day it was announced (“India has taken a ‘quantum jump in the wrong direction’ since 2014, says Amartya Sen”). Obviously the finance minister knew what the big scheme was and allotted only Rs 2,000 crore to it, with the provision that extra funds would be given when needed. As is typical of the Modi government, it did not realise that the scheme would involve providing infrastructure at the panchayat and district levels – medical centres with equipment, doctors and supporting staff. Besides in tier-three cities, it may be outsourced to private hospitals. Also, the insurance premium is yet not known. The idea sounds grand but the government, as usual, does not recognise the ground realities. – SN Iyer

No laughing matter

It is easy to joke about people, that too elected representatives (“Watch: Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and Arnab Goswami face the heat in this stand-up comic’s routine”). Modi is an easy target because of the tough decisions his government has taken. Not everything is perfect, but not all is bad either and is in fact better when compared to previous governments. It had been a long time since we had a sincere government that is working and not pocketing money. It’s time for comedians to be innovative instead of getting personal. – Manoj Sethu

Rupee slide

This is a good analysis of the challenges facing policy makers in any country (“Why India should allow the rupee to weaken (but won’t)”). The exchange rate is not a policy objective but a result (or indicator) of all other policies and prevailing circumstances. The Reserve Bank of India can affect the exchange rate only temporarily. In the medium term, other policies and events will overwhelm the RBI. A combination of interest rate parity, prudent fiscal stance and some down payment on structural reforms could maintain economic stability during the period leading up to the 2019 election. The “should” and “won’t” may not have to be opponents. – Gopal Yadav

Press freedom

The Left Democratic Front government of Kerala, when in the Opposition, pretended that they were the saviours of all fundamental rights and made a big noise whenever there was any breach by the government (“Kerala Police book Mathrubhumi TV anchor for allegedly promoting communal enmity”). Look at the way they behave now. Not a single day passes without police atrocities being committed right under the nose of the chief minister, who is in charge of home affairs. Every other day, one sees the DGP cutting a sorry figure as he tries to to justify his policemen’s actions or orders an enquiry. The government is busy offering jobs to the next of kin of affected parties. Now the chief minister finds the media a nuisance and is trying to silence them using the laws they once stiffly opposed. – Murali Dharan