Weekend Reads

  1. The new variant of Covid-19 may not be more severe than before, but it is more transmissible. And that alone makes it tremendously dangerous, writes Zeynep Tufekci in The Atlantic.
  2. Lawrence Wright takes the first stab at documenting the slow-motion train wreck of the United States’ Covid-19 response, in a piece in the New Yorker titled The Plague Year.
  3. “The pandemic will end not with a declaration, but with a long, protracted exhalation. Even if everything goes according to plan, which is a significant if, the horrors of 2020 will leave lasting legacies,” writes Ed Yong in The Atlantic.
  4. In the Indian Express, Ritika Chopra tracked “86 men and women who stood first in India, between 1996 and 2015, in their Class 10 and 12 exam” in an effort to understand how their aspirations played out and what that ought to teach us as the New Education Policy rolls out.
  5. “To fulfill its role as a security provider in the region, in a way that renders it attractive to countries worried about China’s rise, India needs a formidable navy to project power. But in a post-Ladakh scenario, with priority being accorded to the army’s more pressing demands, New Delhi’s naval ambitions will be checked,” writes Sushant Singh in Foreign Policy.
  6. In BuzzFeedNews, Alison Killing and Megha Rajagopalan use satellite photos to reveal how hundreds of detention camps or prisons in China’s Xinjiang also have factory buildings inside or alongside, suggesting that forced labour on a vast scale is taking place within.
  7. More than three years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government introduced the electoral bonds scheme, which many have called a danger to Indian democracy because it encourages anonymous political funding, the challenges in the Supreme Court have gone nowhere, writes Bhadra Sinha in The Print.
  8. “The truth is we have not learnt a political language that can thread the needle of calling out the authoritarian and communal poison now in our democracy, without at the same time indicting the people,” writes Pratap Bhanu Mehta in the Indian Express. “We exude the paradoxical air of fighting for democracy without faith in the people.”
  9. Jean Dreze in the Indian Express addresses Surjit Bhalla’s attempt to insist that the stagnating child nutrition indicators in India are not alarming, saying “in his haste to knock down all suspects in one stroke, he gets entangled in a flawed attempt to dispute and downplay the evidence I had presented.”
  10. “The central, befuddling economic reality of the United States at the close of 2020 is that everything is terrible in the world, while everything is wonderful in the financial markets.” In The New York Times, Neil Irwin and Weiyi Cai explain why that is.