Weekend Reads

  1. The Pew Research Centre’s big report on Indian perceptions of religious freedom and national identity is chock-full of insights, such as making it clear that most Indians want to prevent inter-religious marriages.
  2. “These findings, if true, suggest that radical secularism or ‘woke’ politics is unlikely to work politically in India and mainstream politics will continue to pander to conservative values around both caste and religion,” writes Roshan Kishore.
  3. From prayer to politics, Nitin B writes on how the survey finds substantial differences between North and South India on religious perceptions.
  4. “After General Bipin Rawat stated that the task of the air force and the navy was to “support” the land forces, it raised a fundamental question: Are the CDS and his army laying the groundwork for an ancient, outmoded way of fighting in the 21st Century (Vedic warfare, if you will) when organised violence is multidimensional?” asks Sujan Dutta.
  5. Rathin Roy presents a grim view of both the Indian economy and the way it has been run over the last year. “India’s macroeconomic and growth track record, already poor and worsening, has been abysmal across the past year. The growth rate fell from 8.26 per cent in 2016 to 4.1 per cent in 2019. The pandemic caused the economy to contract by 7.3 per cent in 2020, which is more than double the contraction in global gross domestic product or GDP (
    3.3 per cent). The Union government continues to be in a fiscal crisis.”
  6. “Despite the scale of the pandemic, additional budgetary allocation to various social safety measures has been relatively low in India compared with other countries. Although the country might look comparable to the reference group in non-health sector measures, the additional health sector fiscal measures are less than half those in the reference group. More worryingly, the Indian government’s announced allocation in the 2021 budget for such measures does not show an increase, once inflation is taken into account,” write Swati Dhingra and Maitreesh Ghatak.
  7. Suhasini Haidar pulls out her reporter’s notebook on the task of tracking down diplomats and news behind the scenes.
  8. “Without internet at home, students in remote areas have found it difficult to connect to online classes in the pandemic, forcing them to log into virtual classrooms in bus stops, roadsides and temple verandahs,” reports Prajwal Manipal, from rural Karnataka.
  9. Hannah Beech reports on a human rights lawyer from Myanmar who is proud of his work, despite losing nearly all of his cases. “My motto, and the motto of human rights lawyers in Myanmar, is simple,” he said. “The case is lost, but the cause is won.”
  10. “She aced independent India’s first civil services examination,” writes Narayani Basu. “Then she made history by exposing the misogyny of the country’s elite diplomatic corps.