Opinion Watch: Droupadi Murmu storms Raisina Hills; SC bails out Mohammed Zubair; Unruly social media

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The Raisina Hills makes endeavor to curate contents for thinking minds. The opinion watch adopts a conversational style to examine editorials carried in The Economic Times (ET), The Indian Express (IE), The Hindu (TH), The Times of India (ToI) and Deccan Herald (DH).

The National Democratic Alliance candidate Droupadi Murmu predictably won the President’s election comfortably. Expectedly, all the newspapers have carried lead Edits with headlines – Spirit of a nation (IE); First Citizen Murmu (ToI); Adivasi, first citizen (DH); Madam President (TH).

Tone and tenor of the editorials of all the dailies are celebratory.

“This is a rare moment when woman and nation partake of and complete each other’ story,” IE noted in its Edit, adding “she will bring the highest office closer to the country’s most marginalized people”.

ToI digs a little deeper to inform that Mrumu as the Governor of Jharkhand had returned the tenancy bill piloted by the Raghubar Das government in Jharkhand twice. The bill was hotly debated in the state amid fear that it would alienate the tribal community.

The daily takes an account of the excessive poverty among the nine per cent tribal community in the country. Indeed, it’s astounding that the scheduled tribe students in the higher education constitute a mere 5.6 per cent.

TH also has rejoiced in the victory of Murmu, while running a commentary on the well-known lines.

“To make her election more meaningful, state policy too must bend towards justice and fairness to all. Ms. Murmu’s election should not be used as a convenient excuse for inaction on countering the wider disempowerment of tribespeople,” commented TH.

Ironically, editorials appear after a sufficient time gap of an event, yet the newspapers have in their comments played to the gallery and do little to carry forward the debate by raising issues that may ignite discussions in the society.

Indeed, Murmu’s victory be celebrated, but why is it so that the women participation in the legislature – Parliament and Legislative Assemblies – continue to languish at just about 11-13 per cent.

How is it that the benefits of the reservation in jobs and educational institutions failed to uplift the tribal community, with least of the gains going to the tribespeople in the states such as Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha, while most of benefits are flowing to those who are in the Northeast, Rajasthan, and a few southern states?

The dailies seem to have lost their critical faculties, while rejoicing in a momentous event.

The co-founder of Alt News Mohammed Zubair was finally released after two weeks of being held up in police and judicial custody, while cases against piled up, mostly in Uttar Pradesh. ET, TH and DH have carried strong editorials on the events surrounding Zubair.

ET in its Edit ‘Enough of scattering FIRs from all over’ has called the Supreme Court’s direction for clubbing all FIRs against Zubair and transferring them to Delhi “reassuring”. The daily has also welcomed similar direction on Nupur Sharma case also.

“Even as Zubair and Sharma are charged with causing offences in several jurisdictions, the alleged offence committed by them …is singular,” noted ET.

TH in its Edit ‘Welcome relief’ has argued “In the face of an assertive executive in times of majoritarian nationalism, it has become normal for magistrates to comply with any demand for the police to remand those brought before them to custody and to deny them bail regardless of the merit or lack of it in those cases”.

DH’s Edit ‘Reiteration of rights, lessons for police’ also strikes an exultant note on Zubair’s release, while advocating that “the court underlined the principle that the power of arrests should be used sparingly and said that the vicious cycle of arrest and bail and more arrests should be broken”.

Amid the exultant tones of dailies, it must not be forgotten that Zubair and Sharma are represented by the best of lawyers in the country, and a vast majority of people suffering similar fate suffer in silence for lack of wealth.

Is justice in India a prisoner of wealth? The dailies will indee not give an answer and confine their commentaries to the most immediate event.

There has been much debate about the regulation of the social media given its explosive power for disruptions. ToI in its Edit ‘Rules with rights’ calls upon the government to define what is objectionable. This indeed is needed since the bureaucrats have an incorrigible habit of writing vague rules and laws to usurp powers of convenient interpretations.

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