Edit & Opinion

In India’s Opinion | The Dispatch on 28 May 2020

Every Monday to Saturday, The Dispatch brings to you a selection of Editorials from leading newspapers across the country.

The missing data

“Informed policymaking requires continuous data generation — COVID crisis is compounding the challenge,” reads the editorial of Indian Express. It further reads, “For a country already short of recent large sample survey-based data — nobody knows whether and how much poverty has fallen in the last decade or if consumption of vegetables and protein-rich foods is growing at the same rate as before — the COVID crisis makes matters worse. The National Statistical Office (NSO) was to undertake its household consumer expenditure (HCE) survey for 2020-21 from July, which is now practically ruled out. The houselisting phase of the Census, crucial for carving out and assigning “blocks” to field enumerators tasked with collecting household/individual-level information, was scheduled during April-September. Its postponing could have a bearing on the main census slated for February-March 2020. Since the houselisting and enumeration blocks are also used for the rural development ministry’s Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), it points to serious data challenges ahead,” read the full editorial here

Virus alert

“Donald Trump has become collateral damage to Twitter’s fact-checking initiative for COVID-19,” read the editorial of The Indian Express. It further reads, “Donald Trump has fallen victim to COVID-19 — not because of his failure to contain its spread in the US, which faces the figure of 1,00,000 deaths. The electorate will, or will not, address executive bungling during the pandemic in November. But unreliable medical advice during the public health emergency had goaded Twitter into alerting users to fake news and outlandish claims with a blue exclamation mark. Now, for the first time ever, that damning mark has appeared beneath a tweet from a president who won office partly by leveraging Twitter. In response to a poll which found that two out of three Americans would avoid polling booths in the elections later this year, he had tweeted that postal ballots would be “substantially fraudulent”. Since he offered no evidence to back this charge, his tweet was flagged by Twitter as “unsubstantiated”,” read the full editorial here

Calamities galore

“In a month of multiple disasters, stretched administrations must counter the heatwave too,” suggest the Editorial of Times of India. It further reads, “As Covid cases continue to rise despite a two-month lockdown, the pandemic has stretched thin India’s state capacity, caused economic devastation, and seriously worsened life for its poorer citizens. Unfortunately it is not the only crisis in town. Last week super cyclone Amphan left behind a trail of destruction in Bengal. This week locust swarms have been making waste across different states even as north India (along with southeast Pakistan) acquired the unhappy distinction of being the hottest part of the planet. If governments now have to tackle multiple emergencies simultaneously that too may be a new normal. Just connect the dots with climate change,” read the full editorial here

Daring the Dragon

“India must tone down rhetoric, build its capabilities silently,” reads the editorial of The Tribune. It further reads, “Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call to the People’s Liberation Army on Tuesday to think about worst-case scenarios and to scale up battle preparedness has come at an inopportune moment during a face-off between China and India in Ladakh. Coming as it does from the highest Chinese authority, the message is a riddle, as is often the case with Chinese military-diplomatic signals. It appears more as provocative muscle flexing rather than a subtle attempt to make its neighbour strike a balance between its priorities, possibilities and vulnerabilities,” read the full editorial here

The swarm: On locust attack

“The locusts in western parts add a new dimension to other disasters facing India,” reads the editorial of The Hindu. It further reads, “Just last week, eastern India was battered by one of the most powerful cyclones in decades and now, even as hundreds of lives are lost every day to the coronavirus, another danger lurks on the nation’s west. A burgeoning locust swarm in Rajasthan, Gujarat and even parts of Madhya Pradesh threatens to amplify into an agrarian disaster. The desert locust, as a species, is the bane of agriculture. Monitoring and tackling periodic outbreaks of the marauding insects are among the objectives of the Locust Warning Organization (LWO) in Jodhpur. There were 13 locust upsurges from 1964 to 1997, and after 2010 there was “no large scale breeding” reported. Once a significant outbreak starts, it lasts for about two years, and then there is a quietus for about eight years. LWO officials say that the swarm building up is potentially the “worst in decades”,” read the full editorial here.

Again: Arrest of anti-CAA protesters

“This “witch-hunt” — that is what the JNU teachers call it — is a direct attack on democratic principles,” reads the Editorial of The Telegraph. It further reads, “global pandemic is no reason to stop arresting young people who protested against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens. The two latest arrests are of Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, students in the MPhil and PhD programmes of Jawaharlal Nehru University and members of Pinjra Tod, an organization of women students. Ms Kalita and Ms Narwal had been among the organizers of an anti-CAA protest in Jaffrabad in February. This was followed by the pro-CAA rally by the Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Kapil Mishra — and violence broke out in northeast Delhi the next day. As a statement from the university’s teachers points out, no one seen to be spewing hatred on videos has been arrested. Yet student arrests continue, both from Jamia Millia Islamia and JNU. The State’s intention — the police in Delhi report to the Union home ministry — is laid bare for all to see. When the Jaffrabad police arrested the two students, a Delhi court gave them bail, saying that the charge under Section 353 of the Indian Penal Code — assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty — was “not maintainable”,” read the full editorial here.


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