Dissent is the Current Discourse

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When I was a child, a family trip was never complete without a few temples thrown in. It didn’t matter if it was a hill station or the sea side, the North or the South, via road or rail, with extended family and without. We didn’t discriminate between the Gods – as long as the temple was open, it would be visited. I remember rebelling to limit these visits to not more than three a day – it was a large victory for me then. (Now I hope I’ve learned how to drive better bargains.) After the nth temple, the prasadam loses its allure, gully cricket seems so attractive, and you want to go back home, where it was easier to run away from religion.

Ah well, the good days. My family, for now, has postponed any and all plans of going to Amarnath any time soon. But I understand that yatras are important to people who believe in them. This week, a bus of Amarnath pilgrims got caught between terrorists and a police post. Indian analysts looked at this as a side effect of narratives of political parties on a single nationalism, and contributing to communal divides, particularly the idea of ‘Hindu pilgrims’ and ‘Kashmiri Islamist terrorists’. They also stressed Kashmir’s historical commitment to secularism, and that solidarity from Kashmiris could improve the situation in the disturbed state.

At the same time, the Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has ruled that Farooq Ahmed Dar should be compensated for torture. However, analysts are wondering why the court ignored the army, and whether the Jammu and Kashmir government will implement the orders of the SHRC.

On the other border, it is the third week of the India-China standoff, and no one knows how long it will continue. Harsh V Pant writes that if the shrillness of the Chinese media while accusing India in the Dokhlam crisis is any indicative of the views of policy makers in China, then we are facing an uncertain future. Some feel that China questioning the Sikkim merger is an attempt to instigate division in India, but others argue that India will get bolder, and China’s response to the Malabar exercises shows that China feels threatened. Meanwhile, the pragmatists argue that India and China should both realise that this is not 1962 anymore, and make more mature decisions when it comes to Dokhlam. I will be surprised if this rather obvious recommendation was not greeted with an eye roll.

Meanwhile, the violence in Basirhat, West Bengal has stopped for now. Analysts focused on the tug between the Trinamool Congress and the BJP, and on how Muslims are being caught between a Bengali identity and a Hindu identity. Siddarth Bhatia points out how Nupur Sharma’s use of a picture from the Godhra riots while commenting on Basirhat shows that the party is beyond truth and authenticity. What this means for the future is worrying, particularly when elections loom in the distant horizon.

As we kicked off our Brainstorm on the crisis in Indian agriculture (read Amit and Nitin’s writings here and here), the discourse on agrarian issues is back in the national radar. Analysts look at cattle slaughter, defaulting on private money lending, remodeling the agricultural financial system and sustainable farming.

The news of Air India’s disinvestment came last week but it was largely sidelined then because of all the dissent. Puja Mehra recommends that the government should sell the airline altogether rather than parts, and Shreekant Sambrani extends this argument to other government-held companies like BSNL, whose finances are dwindling. Meanwhile Anjali Bhargava finds Indigo’s interest in buying Air India bizarre considering how premature the move is.

The G-20 was also in the news earlier this week because Trump decided it was ‘Bring-your-daughter-to-work-day’. Shyam Saran writes that major decisions of the G-20 happen in the technical groups that is governed by the OECD, and that India should consider becoming a member of the OECD if it wants greater status. Meanwhile, AV Rajwade writes that despite the the impasse at the Hamburg summit, at least Prime Minister Modi and Xi Jinping got to show amicable spirit. So amicable that we can easily forget that our armies are standing eyeball to eyeball.

It was a week of dissent and a week of uncertainties. To end it, listen to this Naga parody of Bohemian Rhapsody. Read this piece on its conception if you aren’t too sure of its musical genius.

Many of the links in this week’s Filter were collated by Shivani Ramachandran, an intern at The Takshashila Institution.