In Depth

Instant Opinion: The new battlefront in India’s ‘ideological civil war’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Wednesday 22 January

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The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Priyamvada Gopal in Al Jazeera

on increasing violence in Delhi

India’s democracy may not have much time left

“In a context where religious minorities are being singled out for discrimination and violence, the targeting of Jawaharlal Nehru University, a public relations disaster, has puzzled some India watchers. What happened has to be understood as the opening of one more battlefront in what is fast becoming an ideological civil war. This is an India where not just minorities but any person or institution pushing back against the onslaught of state-sponsored bigotry faces the threat of punitive violence, whether directly from the state or from mobs it apparently protects.”

2. Andreas Kluth on Bloomberg News

on the rise of coronavirus

The next pandemic will come. Here’s how to prepare

“As a new coronavirus spreads within China and to other countries, I’m reminded of my time in Hong Kong during the SARS outbreak of 2003. Back then, I spent an otherwise beautiful spring wearing masks in public but mostly working from home, as I reported on the disease and the struggle to contain it. Every day at the same time — 3:20 p.m., if my memory’s correct — I checked an official Hong Kong website, which I trusted completely, to see that day’s new cases. I remember my relief as the number finally trended down. When it was over, it felt as though SARS had been just a shot across the world’s bow. For one thing’s certain: the next pandemic will come, and it may resemble the Spanish flu of 1918, which infected half a billion people. The questions are when, where and how, and whether we’ll be ready collectively.”

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3. Philip Johnston in The Telegraph

on winter’s changing face

If it’s a choice between Trump and Greta, I’m with the teenage zealot

“All the great eastern and central European cities – Berlin, Warsaw, Vienna, St Petersburg – are exceptionally mild, though winter could yet have a sting in the tail. The so-called Beast from the East that arrived late in the season a few years ago temporarily shocked us out of our complacency, but it was relatively short-lived and not that exceptional in any case. Mild Januaries are now the norm. We have a lovely old wooden toboggan that has hardly been put to use since the Eighties, which is the last time I can remember a succession of cold winters. Growing up in Kent in the Sixties and Seventies, heavy frosts and blizzards were an annual occurrence. Not now.”

4. James Noyes in The Guardian

on gambling with the public

Britain’s betting industry is out of control. A new gambling act must curb it

“Gambling has become a canary in the coalmine of our economy. It is now embedded in every aspect of our lives: our banks, high streets, television screens and football teams. When we talk about gambling, we enter a vast world that spans questions from addiction and isolation to market failure and machine learning. It is a world that stretches the limits of the relationship between freedom and the protection of the state. And, in the breakdown of that relationship, many people have been harmed.”

5. Monica Heisey in The New York Times

on resettling in the Great White North

Dear Harry and Meghan, some friendly Canadian advice

“It’s a stereotype, but apologizing is a big part of Canadian culture. As a British person, Harry should have mastered this already, but for Meghan’s sake - and in case Harry’s royal privileges have blunted his abilities in this area - consider practicing such classic apologies as ‘sorry just getting this text’ or ‘sorry that thing I said about just getting your text was obviously a lie’. When those feel comfortable you can work up to more personally applicable examples, like ‘sorry your taxes pay for our security detail,’ and ‘sorry my family stole your priceless marble statues, nation of Greece’. Some other Canadian tidbits: The winters can be truly punishing, poutine is actually very good, knit hats are known as ‘toques’, and thousands of Indigenous people have been without clean water for decades.”

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