Letters

Letters to the Editor — April 16, 2020

Rumour mill

The public mind that is hostage to fear and anxiety is fertile ground for propagating rumours and conspiracy theories (Editorial page, “Halting the march of rumours”, April 15). It is unfortunate that the large number of COVID-19 cases associated with the Tablighi Jamaat conclave in Delhi has fuelled the circulation of Islamophobic narratives. It is unfair to blame the entire community for the reckless behaviour of a few religious zealots who endangered public safety. At the same time, the fight against toxic propaganda should be a collective exercise, with society and the maligned community working together to counter the propagation of malicious and hateful falsehoods.

The unrepentant behaviour of the organisers and the alleged crass behaviour of some of the delegates towards health workers also exacerbated public anger. Community leaders and intellectuals failed to condemn the Tablighi Jamaat in unequivocal terms. An overly defensive stance hardly helps to clear the fog of suspicion and mistrust.

V.N. Mukundarajan,

Thiruvananthapuram

The Tablighi Jamaat has become a household name because of some who were irresponsible in the community. Speculation and prejudice poison the minds of people who are already struggling to tide over the crisis. Rumours remain entrenched in minds for a long time. In the end, we must not fall prey to rumours and remain united in our fight against the target, the coronavirus.

D. Manohara Rao,

Visakhapatnam

The point about building trust with ‘critical insiders’ in a community to slow the spread of harmful rumours is well taken. There exists a successful and historical example of this being tried in another divided society: British Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel’s institution of the Maynooth Grant in 1845 — given by the British government to a Catholic seminary in Ireland to improve relations between the Protestant establishment at Westminster and the majority-Catholic Irish population. Though controversial, it is credited with improving communal relations and dampening separatist fervour for some time. Such outreach from the majority to minority communities might go a long way in restoring a measure of national cohesion.

Jay Vinayak Ojha,

Patna

Sadly, Muslims are not the only ones being affected. People from northeast India too are facing racial discrimination. Rumours backed by fake pictures on social media that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted from poultry meat have left poultry farmers in distress. Borderline racist conspiracy theories and memes against the Chinese are flooding social media. There is even a Wikipedia article, “List of incidents of xenophobia and racism related to the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic”. A polarised nation is already a fertile ground for rumours. Unfortunately, our political leadership has remained suspiciously silent.

Devashish Khanayat,

Haldwani, Uttarakhand

Rumours have often been seen as great disruptors of civil societies, more so during the pandemic where rumours have been used to tarnish a community. Despite diversity being India’s strength, the evil spreading on social media and caustic ideologies gravely damage our syncretism. The state must act responsibly so that such matters can be nipped in the bud.

Pushpendra Singh,

Sersa, Sonepat, Haryana

They show the way

The boy from Mizoram, the girl in grade 6 from Hyderabad and the pensioner college lecturer from West Bengal have all been able to translate their compassion into action to help the needy during the pandemic (Inside pages, “Girl raises ₹6.2 lakh for the needy”, April 15). But those in charge in the government, and with vast resources at their disposal, feel satisfied and proud after sermonising from the pulpit.

Some in the Opposition have raised the issue of tiding over the crisis at the grass-root level, one of the ideas being suspending construction of a new building for Parliament. However, it is odd that the tender will be called for soon after the lockdown is lifted. It is unlikely that the incumbent Indian government and similar regimes elsewhere will change their ways even after the pandemic subsides. A lesson from the pandemic is the need to follow the essentials of people-oriented governance.

Jayaraman N.,

Chennai

 

No relief

It is outrageous that the rights activists, Anand Teltumbte and Gautam Navlakha, had to surrender before the NIA (Page 1, “Teltumbde, Navlakha surrender to NIA”, April 15). This only points to vengeance and political vendetta when it comes to voices of dissent. It is disappointing that the judiciary has not made an intervention.

S.V. Venugopalan,

Chennai

Coverage, on radio

Unfortunately, when the quartet was at its peak in the 1970s, for thousands of cricket lovers in this part of India, television was still a distant dream (‘Sport’ page, “Music from the string quartet that raised the level of Indian cricket”, April 14). One had to depend entirely on radio commentators to conjure up the scene. However, the commentary broadcast by All India Radio was not always of a high standard unless it happened to be someone like the legendary A.F.S. Talyarkhan, or Bobby Talyar Khan. Or, Tony Cozier if it happened to be an India-West Indies Test series ( 1974-75, for instance). Except for Raju Bharatan, whose commentary was both educative and interesting, most of them, I am afraid, were unable to provide a nuanced account of the game, not to speak of an analysis of the the finer points of the game. But even that was welcome in the absence of live telecasts which was perhaps limited to the four metros. It was the commentary in the regional languages which was entertaining as the commentators were often unaware of even the fielding positions. There were often two commentators for the regional language show and their errors. When one of them erroneously mentioned a fielding position as ‘gully’, the other would diffidently correct him with the words, ‘No, it must be silly mid on or backward short leg’, making the commentary even more hilarious. All the same, one of the pastimes of youth and particularly of students was to keep their ears glued to their portable transistors. Some of them who were addicted to it would even take it inside the classroom hidden between their books or notebooks , and would invite the wrath of the professor, if caught. That is how we made of sense of a Test and other forms of cricket till the idiot box arrived sometime in the 1980s. However, it was the hysteria generated by India’s historic World Cup victory in 1983 that dramatically changed how one viewed and understood cricket. And relief from the running commentaries of All India Radio.

M. Jameel Ahmed,

Mysuru

A letter from the Editor


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Printable version | May 26, 2020 3:13:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/letters-to-the-editor-april-16-2020/article31349992.ece

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