Gyanvapi Row: Faith tests laws; Call for urban version of MGNREGA; India’s Pakistani F16 challenge

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Opinion Watch

The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 that froze practices as prevailing in 1947 is now back in the spotlight. This law after 21 years now faces test of faith.

The District Varanasi Court has ruled that the civil suit by five women for rights to pray at the ‘Maa Shringar Gauri’ is maintainable, and the next hearing would be on September 22. The Supreme Court had previously asked the district court to hear the petition.

The Indian Express and The Pioneer have come out with Editorials on the issue, and both the dailies have desired that the Gyanvapi row shouldn’t be allowed to walk on the decades’ long Ramjanmabhoomi controversy.

The Indian Express recalled the statement of the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat “Har masjid mein Shivling kyun dekhna (why look for Shivling in each mosque)”. The daily also recalled the Supreme Court’s 2019 order that paved the way for the resolution of the Ayodhya dispute in which the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 was accorded central position to maintaining the secular fabric of the country.

The Pioneer dwelt on the politics of Mandal and Kamandal, while striking a cautionary note.

Indeed, the leaks of the filming of the Granvapi Mosque had flared up the tempers in Varanasi, judiciary at the top must not takes years to address the legal questions, while larger socio-religious conflicts would surely bank on the political commitments for peaceful arbitration.

Call for urban version of MGNREGA    

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was the mainstay of the rural livelihoods when the national economy shut down after the outbreak of the Covid-19.

The Times of India in its Editorial on the launch of the urban employment scheme by the Rajasthan government weighed arguments for its replication on the national stage.

The daily cited the research from the Azim Premji University that estimated that Rs 300 a day payout to 200 million workers would cost just Rs 1 lakh crore.

Rajasthan will take the burden of Rs 800 crore for Rs 259 a day for unskilled and Rs 283 for skilled workers.

ToI pulls out statistics from the National Crime Research Bureau to underline that 26 per cent of the suicide cases in 2021 were accounted for by the daily wagers.

Indeed, the rationale would be that if the government can give benefits of lakhs of crores to the industry, then why not just Rs 1 lakh crore to the urban poor.

But it may not be forgotten that MGNREGA has empirically shown to be an institutionalized corruption, and no government yet has been able to do the financial audit. Another version would unleash consequences which may have ramifications for the larger economy, and even incentivize and promote unemployment.

India’s Pakistani F16 challenge

The Hindu has advised India to move on and work for closer relations with the US despite Washington’s decision to refurbish the F-16 fighter fleet of Pakistan.

“To stay in Afghanistan, the US needed Pakistan; now to stay away from Afghanistan it needs Pakistan even more. While the US may have its reasons to keep Pakistan humoured and incentivised, India’s concerns are immediate and real,” the Hindu argued.

Needless to say, the US pursues independent foreign policy and India has no heft on Washington to alter the military-strategic interests of the Americans.

Pakistan occupies that piece of strategic land that oversees world’s most grave conflict zone of Afghanistan. Still, Pakistan had deployed F16s against India after the Balakot air strike against the clause in the sale of the fighter jets. That should indeed be the ground for an Indian push back on Washington.

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