Five Best Thursday Columns

Dhiraj Nayyar on India's leadership, The Wall Street Journal on Vladimir Putin, Rep. Luis Gutierrez on immigration, James Poniewozik on technology, and Harold Meyerson on the minimum wage. 

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Dhiraj Nayyar in Bloomberg View on why India's Prime Minister and the governor of its central bank must work together to fix the country's economy. Nayyar writes that while Narendra Modi and Raghuram Rajan have both been aided by their strong reputations, as well as an improving economic environment, they must take action to bring India's economy to life. "Reputation can go a long way, of course. In a country where nepotism and connections usually determine who occupies high public office, Modi and Rajan represent a refreshing change. Neither of them are insiders in New Delhi. To Indian businessmen, they exude a credibility and competence that is rare at the highest levels of India's government." The task before them is that Modi must reform India's bloated government while Rajan must simplify and streamline the practices of its central bank. "Time is on Modi’s side: He has four years and nine months before the next election. Rajan has two years left in a three-year term, which may be extended to five. Sooner or later, though, positive sentiment will no longer be enough to carry either man. Now is the time to start meeting the outsized hopes they've raised."

The Wall Street Journal (subscription) on why the United States must continue to pressure Vladimir Putin. Putin's latest peace proposal represents another attempt to avoid costly sanctions by keeping Western allies off guard. "It's no accident Mr. Putin has floated this plan before the NATO summit in Wales and before the EU discusses broader sanctions on Russia on Friday. Mr. Putin hopes to forestall sanctions and divide the West—a strategy that has worked before. The EU and the U.S. put off sanctions in June after a few conciliatory Kremlin statements. A month later Mr. Putin began his move on eastern Ukraine." The editors argue that now is not the time to relent on international pressure. "The U.S. and EU should take his cue by adding serious sanctions and strengthening NATO... Ukraine will not be Mr. Putin's last military destination. Last week Mr. Putin mused that Kazakhstan wasn't a real country, and on Wednesday Russia announced military exercises along the border of the oil-rich Central Asian state with a large ethnic Russian minority. He had used the same words to describe Ukraine."

Rep. Luis Gutierrez in The Guardian on why the President should pass executive action on immigration before the midterm elections.  The Congressman from Illinois contends that Obama's decision to defer action on immigration until after the elections is a mistake. "We cannot be a pro-immigrant party only when it is convenient. The Democrats cannot say that we stand with immigrants if that secretly means we only stand with immigrants in odd-numbered years or when southern Democrats complain." Gutierrez, who has been a leader in the House of Representatives on immigration, suggests that action by Democrats would not only be right but politically expedient. "We are not going to spend the time and money to deport all 11.5m undocumented immigrants, nor do we think it is a good idea. So we should concentrate our resources on deporting the truly rotten apples – criminals, drug smugglers and terrorists among them – and on securing the border. That resonates with Latino citizens who have listened to years of promises on immigration but seen very little action. And it resonates with other Americans – on Election Day."

James Poniewozik in Time on why the celebrity hacking scandal and the beheading of Stephen Sotloff both rely on viewers complicity. Poniewozik writes that by choosing to look at graphic images viewers are only emboldening perpetrators crimes. "The witnessing completes the act. That’s not to say that you, looking at your device, are the same as the terrorist or the hacker. But you are completing their aim: that many eyes, many places, see what they did, whether to terrorize or humiliate... You didn’t swing the blade or hack the photos. But there is something you can do. You can choose not to look." It may not a crime or even immoral to look, but Poniewozik says it's the right thing to do. "I’m not saying you’re evil if you watch one of these videos, or peep a stolen celebrity nudie. It’s about something less grandiose than evil, less widely discussed–but at least as important: decency. Decency, at least a very big part of it, is knowing that you are permitted to do a thing–it’s physically possible, it’s not illegal, no one can stop you–yet you shouldn’t anyway."

Harold Meyerson in The Washington Post on how methods of worker mobilization have changed. The push for higher wages, a campaign that was escalated by fast-food workers two years ago, is finally starting to see results. "Even though the campaign has yet to win a union contract for a single worker, it already has to be judged a signal success. By highlighting the abysmal incomes of millions of hardworking Americans, it has prodded governments to phase in minimum-wage increases in a growing number of cities and states." Meyerson suggests that the new way American workers mobilize is by pushing for legislative change. "The fast-food workers’ campaign, then, may be viewed not simply as a unionization drive, but also as the second act of a broader workers’ movement kicked off by the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations of 2011. Occupy never developed a strategic focus that went beyond occupying, but it nonetheless focused the nation’s attention on the widening chasm separating the 1 percent from everybody else... In today’s America, workers can still mobilize and win, but their victories are far more likely to come in the political and legislative arenas, where unions retain some power, than in actually building unions, which the weakness of U.S. labor law renders nearly impossible."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.