Opinion Watch: Politics of freebies; Global rise in poverty; BJP’s Jat choice in VP poll

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In ‘Editorial analysis’, The Raisina Hills critically reviews comments of India’s top five English newspapers – The Indian Express (IE), The Hindu (TH), The Times of India (ToI), The Economic Times (ET) and Deccan Herald (DH).


Politics of freebies is the foremost identity of the Indian politics. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while inaugurating the Bundelkhand Expressway, hit out at ‘Rewdi’ culture, which is seen as his disapproval for the politics of freebies, as he sought to showcase the completion of the road project worth about Rs 1500 crores in 29 months.

ToI has run a lead Edit on Modi’s remarks and argues that India should soon have a reliable source of data to come to a conclusion on the contrasting arguments on all sides.

The daily rightly reminds of the recommendations of the Finance Commissions for the establishment of an independent fiscal council.

Until the country has a reliable data, it will be akin to shooting arrows in the darkness while arguing on one side or the other on the discourse over politics of freebies and that of building roads.

It must not be seen that there is any political party in the country which doesn’t practice the politics of freebies and also that Modi has stayed away from this. The daily rightly asks if the extended free ration scheme by Modi government for 80 crore population, which gets extended for six months with eyes on elections, is freebies, or a safety net against Covid-19 shock.

Incidentally, Tamil Nadu is popularly known to be the trendsetter for politics of freebies, and ToI reminds that the state has the fourth lowest poverty ratio in India, while the state has the highest operating formal factories.

However, the daily has taken a narrow view of the politics of freebies, and shies away from taking the arguments against political parties extending free electricity and water across the board irrespective of the income profile of the beneficiaries, while compromising on the basic infrastructure such as road, schools and healthcare.

DH has taken a grim view in its Edit of the Sustainable Development Goals 2022. All the 17 sustainable development goals, including eradication of poverty, adopted by 200 countries in the United Nations, are in jeopardy of meeting the 2030 targets. In place of decline, the SDGs have reported rise in poverty, carbon emission, malnutrition and so on, including in India.

The world is slipping on the SDG commitment principally on account of Covid-19 pandemic, conflicts and climate change, noted DH, while adding that 75-79 million people have been pushed into poverty worldwide while 24 million students had to drop out of the schools.

This is indeed worrisome since the conflicts, particularly in Ukraine, are pushing more people in poverty, while the climate change response has been cosmetic on the parts of many countries amid deepening energy crisis, as reflected in the increased demands for fossil fuels, including coal and crude oil.

TH has commented on the BJP choosing the West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar as the party’s candidate for the August 6 vice presidential election. The daily has argued that the BJP’s farm distress in the wake of the year-long protest against the farm laws could have influenced the decision to choose Dhankar.

Dhankar hails from Rajasthan and the BJP will be aiming to wrest power in the state in the next year’s Assembly elections, while the state has sizable Jat population. It may be noted that the former state chief minister Vasundhara Raje also comes from the Jat community in the state.

IE and ET have commented on the growing stress in the startup and IT space, noting that funding for the new ventures has come down by 40 per cent during April- June, while slowdown in hiring in the IT companies is also visible. While IE calls for balance on the needs of the data localization, which is causing heartburn among the startup, and privacy, ET nudges the IT sector to focus on innovation to grow out of the short-term challenges.

Both the daily argued on predictable lines, as they are known to hold liberal views for the startups. Yet, it’s pertinent to note that the startups have been found to have been complicit in excessive data breach and accessing them through dubious means for marketing purposes, which is unpardonable.

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