Edit & Opinion

In India’s Opinion | The Dispatch on 30 June, 2020

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

Death in custody

“Guilty must be urgently brought to book in the Tamil Nadu custodial death case, culture of impunity must end,” read the editorial of The Indian Express. It further reads, “The death of a father and son, allegedly due to torture in a police station near Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, a few days ago, raises serious questions about the conduct of the police. Three inspectors attached to the Sathankulam station have been suspended and an inquiry instituted against two head constables. The state government now wants the CBI to probe the case. More than two weeks ago, the same set of officials was accused of beating up some persons, allegedly leading to the death of one — a district judge asked for a detailed inquiry, describing it as a “disturbing incident of custodial torture” in his report to the Madras High Court. The two incidents, reprehensible in themselves, also point to a wider culture of impunity that prevails in the law and order system, emboldening police officials to flout due process and perpetrate violence on citizens in the expectation of getting away with it,” read the full editorial here.

Facing the music

“Hate speech can no longer be ignored, as economic sanctions drive point home to world’s largest social media platform,” read the editorial of The Indian Express. It further reads,”In Silicon Valley, money talks. Since it’s Valley money, its voice carries further. Money preached the dotcom boom in the Noughties and talks up the digital agenda on Nasdaq. But now, for the first time, in an industry fanatically focused on the future, money is urging the Silicon Valley giants to consider their ethics. Facebook has finally been confronted with the problem of hate speech that it had tried to ignore for years, with Unilever joining a boycott by about 100 advertisers. One of the world’s biggest multinationals has imposed financial sanctions on the world’s biggest social media platform. Facebook has about-faced. The platform, which had refused to deal with posts by President Trump that opponents read as voter intimidation, said that posts suppressing the popular vote or threatening violence were not on. But the company has wilfully lagged behind social media rival, Twitter, which had marked Trump’s tweets as “glorifying violence” and “manipulated media” in May and June. Facebook’s attempts to curb hate speech have been mere token gestures, and the latest update is just a patch. In reaction, Coca-Cola has signalled distrust by pulling its ads from the social network,” read the full editorial here.

Pressing restart

“Bundesliga took the decisive step, sent out the signal that sport needn’t be a casualty of the pandemic,” read the editorial of Indian Express. It further read,”Among the European leagues, the Bundesliga is the most unassuming and unpretentious. It doesn’t gloat over fancy stars, it doesn’t brag about tactical novelties, it doesn’t indulge in showboating of wealth, it seldom buys stars, but often sells them. But as the latest season concluded — predictably with Bayern Munich wrapping up the title and Robert Lewandowski snapping up the golden boot — the league has reasons to bask in the afterglow of its initiative to resume the season in the middle of the pandemic, the first high-profile competition in the coronavirus era. When a sliver of uncertainty flashed across the sporting world, Bundesliga took a decisive step, installing the template to restart sport amid fear. It drilled home a lesson that sport needn’t be a casualty of the pandemic. The planning and execution of the league were flawless. The medical protocols, risk-assessment and player-monitoring were impeccable, and the officials were relieved that there wasn’t an instance of a player or support-staff member testing positive. Without the German league’s sense of purpose, its leadership and vision, none of its more ostentatious European cousins would have had the conviction or courage to press the restart button,” read the full editorial here.


Institutionalised brutality

“Tamil Nadu custodial deaths a blot on police, judiciary,” read the editorial of The Tribune. It further reads, “Unlike in the US, police atrocities in India do not have exclusive racial underpinnings. Indian policemen, when they turn rogue, become dangerous criminals and murderers in uniform who torture the meek and bully the powerless with impunity; caste and community notwithstanding. The fate of Jayaraj and his son J Fennix of the port town of Tuticorin in southern Tamil Nadu was far worse than that of George Floyd of Minneapolis. The father was picked up for allegedly violating the Covid curfew and soon the son too, and both were beaten up on June 19 at the Sathankulam police station. According to certain accounts, their knees were smashed and they were anally raped with steel-tipped batons. The son died on June 22 and the father the next day, while both were in judicial custody,” read the full editorial here.


But for a smartphone

“Govt must pitch in as poor kids feel the pinch,” read the editorial of The Tribune. It further reads, “The priority of daily-wage workers, already further impoverished by the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, is to somehow buy a smartphone — by borrowing money, taking loans or digging into precious savings. For, this gadget has suddenly risen up on a poor man’s list of essentials as he is faced with a new hard reality. The school of his children has shifted to this device that entails the recurring cost of the Internet, with online classes and tests having become the norm in these Covid times. It is a sad reflection on our response to the shutting down of schools and colleges. The decision of moving to the electronic mode failed to factor in all denominations and its repercussions. Not only were both teachers and students made to plunge headlong into the digital world without the training required for technology adaption, but also the fact that most children lacked the wherewithal — computers or smartphones, Internet access— was not addressed. Children belonging to rural and remote areas are bound to lag behind their peers in learning as their access to the Internet is either non-existent or too slow and intermittent. A recent survey has shown that online teaching has impacted nearly 75 per cent of the students for these reasons,” read the full editorial here.

Bright spot: Kerala and it’s inclusiveness

“In an astonishing act of solidarity, all parties joined hands together to bridge digital divide,” read the editorial of The Telegraph. It further reads, ” A tragedy can, on some occasions, go on to make a significant difference. This seems to have happened in Kerala, when the alleged suicide of a young girl owing to her inability to attend online classes for the want of a working television came to light. This incident, along with a survey at the end of May that revealed that 2.5 lakh students under the Kerala school board did not have access to online classes, galvanized the state into action. There are pressing concerns of inequality and poverty — many of these have been exacerbated by the pandemic — behind this lack of access. As Covid-19 has greatly reduced the possibility of public gatherings, including those in schools, classes have increasingly been pushed online. With this, the spectre of exclusion has raised its ugly head; internet connectivity and affiliated infrastructure are still either threadbare or non-existent in vast swathes of the nation, leaving many students, especially those from vulnerable constituencies, unable to access their new online classrooms. However, the manner in which Kerala managed to bridge this yawning digital divide in a few weeks in the wake of the young girl’s death is remarkable. Members of civil society — including businessmen, actors and non-resident Indians — and, in a rare, inspiring moment, political parties joined hands to donate smart TV sets, mobile phones and tablets, most of which went to community classrooms in anganwadi centres. Last week, it was reported that all the 2.5 lakh students now have access to televised learning,” read the full editorial here.


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