2019 in review

The most read editorials of The Hindu in 2019 

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From the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, to the landmark Ayodhya verdict, 2019 proved to be an eventful year.

Here’s a recap of the important moments through the most read editorials from The Hindu this year. 

Peace and Justice: On Ayodhya verdict 

On November 9, the Supreme Court delivered its landmark judgment in the appeals filed by the Hindu and Muslim sides challenging the three-way partition of the disputed 2.77 acres of Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land among Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Waqf Board in 2010. Published on November 11, this editorial welcomed the historic verdict and said it came at a time when the need for peace and closure was greater than the need for undoing an injustice. At the same time, it reiterated that a real sense of justice would only be felt if those who executed the demolition are convicted.

The litchi link?: On Bihar encephalitis deaths 

The deaths of over 90 children due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district remains one of the biggest tragedies of the year. The Hindu, in an editorial published on June 18, delved into the technicalities of the disease, its relation to litchis, and the failure of state mechanisms to prevent the deaths despite well-established and recommended strategies. The editorial also highlighted the method of dextrose infusion, a simple medical intervention that could have saved many lives. 

Big bank theory: On Public Sector Bank mergers 

In an effort to revive the economy, the government on August 30 announced the merger of 10 public sector banks into four entities. According to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the mergers will eventually ensure an enhanced capability to give credit and the sheer size of the banks will allow them to compete globally. The editorial published the next day termed the announcement the most significant the banking industry has seen since nationalisation. At the same time, it stated that unless cost synergies are realised through branch and staff rationalisation, such mergers may not mean much. 

A city gone dry: On Chennai's water crisis 

Chennai's water scarcity this year was a tough a reminder of the impending climate crisis. Experts say the situation is only going to get worse as global warming contributes to erratic monsoon patterns. Amid one of the most severe droughts the city has seen, the editorial on June 26 highlighted the Tamil Nadu government's laxity in tackling the crisis that was bound to get worse. The editorial goes on to list a slew of long-term measures including an assessment of Chennai's wetlands and their storage capacity, and monetary incentives to NGOs for the installation of effective rainwater harvesting systems in households. 

For a rediscovery of India: On Modi's return to power 

The 17th general election was a significant moment this year that saw the Bharatiya Janata Party come back to power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took his place at the helm of affairs for a second term, with the BJP winning an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha. The Hindu, in its editorial on the elections, analysed the impact of the saffron party in the different regions of the country, including the surprising inroads it carved out for itself in West Bengal and Odisha. At the core of the editorial though is a reminder to the reader of the underlying structure that allowed the party to come to power — an endorsement of Hindutva or Hindu nationalism — that has put secular ideals on the back burner. It concludes by appealing to the Prime Minister to live up to the promise that his government continuously makes -- ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas (with all, development for all)’ — with an added third tenet, 'sabka vishwas (the trust of all)'. 

Dangerous precedent: On Sikkim CM's disqualification 

In September, the Election Commission of India (ECI) significantly reduced the bar on Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang's eligibility to contest elections, from six years (after the completion of his one-year prison sentence) to just a year and a month. The case pertained to his conviction in a graft case during his tenure as the State Animal Husbandry Minister in 1996-97. Despite the Supreme Court and High Court upholding his conviction and the completion of his one-year prison sentence in 2018, Mr. Tamang was appointed Chief Minister this year. This was challenged before the Supreme Court. Mr. Tamang approached the ECI to remove his disqualification and was granted the same. The Hindu's editorial on the ECI's decision can be summed up as being "morally wrong" and a "dangerous precedent that may end up reversing the trend towards decriminalising politics". It further states that the move is bound to strain the credibility of the Commission. 

Unequal, unsecular: On Citizenship Amendment Bill 

The contentious passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act has led to an eruption of protests throughout the country, with violence breaking out in certain areas. The Act seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims from three Muslim majority nations — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh — who have faced persecution. The Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on December 11 and by the Lok Sabha on December 9. President Ram Nath Kovind on December 12 gave his assent, turning the Bill into an Act. The editorial on December 10 termed the Bill as being "brazenly discriminatory" and stated that it singled out a community for "hostile treatment". The editorial further questions the exclusion of certain groups from the Act and says that the exemption from the provisions of the Act in tribal areas and the Inner Line Permit areas in the Northeast is based on political expediency. Bringing up Article 14 and its central feature of equal protection under the law, the editorial concludes: "It would be a sad day for the republic if legislation that challenges its founding principles of equality and secularism is allowed to be passed." 

Scrapping J&K's special status is the wrong way to an end 

The abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 on August 5, thus extending all provisions of the Constitution to the State, was yet another contentious move by the Bharatiya Janata Party government. It further divided the State into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The Hindu's editorial the next day criticised the mechanism used by the government to reach the end goal. Though the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was never meant to be permanent, it should not have been scrapped without wider consultations, it stated. Terming the exercise as "executive excess", this piece says that for the government, Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status was an impediment, not an instrument, for the region’s integration with the rest of the country. 

Gandhiji: The Hindu's Editorial on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi 

The editorial that was published on February 1, 1948 in The Hindu after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse in Delhi was the most read this year. The concluding words from this editorial published almost 71 years ago reads: If we are true to Gandhiji's teaching, nothing must deflect us from considering all classes, castes and communities as children of the same mother, entitled to equal rights and — what is not less important — charged with equal responsibilities, all acting in harmony, earnestness and unison in the interest of the nation as a whole. Only thus may we uphold the reputation which Gandhiji claimed for our country and incessantly strove to sustain — the reputation such as the India of Asoka and Akbar enjoyed among the peoples of the world in their time.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 11:27:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/the-most-read-editorials-of-the-hindu-in-2019/article30424695.ece

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