Letters to the Editor — March 14, 2020

Science, not hyperbole

Apropos the editorial, “Not a time to panic” (March 13), it is imperative to take action against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but we are fearing an apocalypse and reacting accordingly in sheer madness. Conferences and public events have been cancelled, weddings postponed and schools have been closed fearing the spread of the virus. Businesses did quite well out of the disease. The sales of respiratory masks, hand sanitisers, anti-fever medicines and similar drugs have skyrocketed. If we are to avoid the so-called ‘coronavirus apocalypse’, we need to be guided by evidence, science and collaboration, not hype, hyperbole and impulse.

S.S. Paul,



Preventive measures

The focus now is only on containment, not prevention, especially with a vaccine still not in sight. Shutting down schools, cinemas, travel, etc. are short-term measures. These cannot continue for ever. The government and civic agencies should now focus on prevention, as any virus spreads through unclean environments and also destruction of environments. While there are rules and laws, implementation is extremely poor. So, we have garbage in public places, overflowing drains and sewage, polluted rivers and lakes and animals moving to human habitation. Forests and wildlife reserves are being destroyed to make way for highways, dams and resorts. Now, it is for the government to see how it can make India clean and green, rather than invite more such virus attacks.

G. Padmanabhan,


Scientific outlook

We feel a deep sense of precariousness in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. We realise how fragile and vulnerable we are to outbreaks of infectious diseases. It is as if we are suddenly blindsided and brought to a standstill by the pestilence. Unsure of what will happen next, we often take a deep breath to calm our racing pulses.

The prognosis is for more people to be affected by the affliction in the coming days. The steep economic downturn and concomitant loss of jobs and incomes, economic distress and lowered quality of life due to the pandemic deepens the all-round gloom. Whether COVID-19 poses an existential threat to the human race or not, it has certainly become a very serious global health crisis. It is spreading rapidly, assuming alarming proportions and causing a lot of psychological anxiety. It is of great comfort that COVID-19 is sparing children and over 98% of the patients recover. At the same time, we wish that old people too are not susceptible to the attack of the virus and all people recover.

A wide range of measures, from closure of borders, denial of visas, cancellation or postponement of sporting fixtures and cultural and religious events, suspension of tourism, ban on air travel, cancellation of hotel bookings, closure of schools and colleges, cinema halls, pubs, gymnasiums, museums, parks, resorts beaches and places of worship and pilgrimage, construction of more isolation units and screening and quarantining and conversion of homes into workplaces are some measures being taken to cut the transmission chain and contain the pandemic. ‘Social distancing’ or staying away from others prevents the transmission.

It is a novel experience to watch matches being played in empty stadiums without spectators or behind closed doors. The chance of ‘external survival’ of the virus in the hot climate is said to be slim; but it is yet to be proved conclusively. However, it is reassuring to hear from China that the pandemic will be ‘over by June’ if countries take concerted action.

The pandemic should promote global cooperation and collaboration, make us aware of the futility of fighting among ourselves and tame our aggressive instincts, result in reduction of manufacture of arms and ammunition and make us more scientific in our thinking and lifestyle.

G. David Milton

Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu

The very phrase ‘COVID 19’ these days strikes an invidious and incalculable terror, coupled with an insurmountable anguish, since the dreaded virus has taken a toll of more than 5,000 innocent lives. It was China from where this dangerous virus commenced its most cruel and hitherto unheard of scourge. China is leaving no stone unturned to put a stop to this deleterious spread of the virus. But it appears that no light has emerged so far. It is struggling much to the dismay of all other countries, which one by one is steadily getting entangled in its vicious grip. But it is a thousand pities to learn that Italy has been the most unfortunate country which has had to bear the brunt of COVID 19. But for wringing our hands in utter despair and despondency, what else can one do? This may be the ubiquitous refrain of all normal human beings.

We need to clasp our hands together and pray to the almighty for the situation to improve and normalcy to be restored.

Mani Natarajan,


Congress and ideology

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has said that his former aide Jyotiraditya Scindia has kept his ideology “in his pocket” and joined hands with the RSS (“Scindia has embraced RSS ideology,” March 13). It is pertinent to ask here what ideology the current Congress is having other than abject loyalty and subservience to Mr. Gandhi’s own family. It is undeniable that whether Mr. Gandhi is the chief of the party or not, he calls the shots in the Congress, and party members form a beeline to meet him. When Mr. Scindia said that respect and identity hold importance, he was only hinting that in the Congress, everything begins and ends with the Gandhis.

C.G. Kuriakose,

Kothamangalam, Kerala

Mr. Scindia’s exit from the Congress is a significant pointer to the disenchantment within the grand old party, which seems to have become a political asylum centre for elders. The authoritarian manner in which the party is run by the Gandhi family would surely drive away the young and promising leaders like Mr. Scindia. If things are allowed to drift to like this, only the Gandhis will remain in the party, which will reduce it to a regional outfit in the not-too-distant future. The time is ripe for the Congress to act swiftly now, or rue later.

P.K. Varadarajan,


Rajini and politics

The pressure relentlessly exerted on Rajinikanth by his steadfast fans to take the political plunge is akin to dragging an unwilling horse to a pond to make it drink water (Front page, “Never aspired to be CM, want resurgence first,” and some reports in inside pages, March 13). As he himself has admitted, star power alone is not enough to get elected to the Assembly. Sivaji Ganesan could not make an impression in politics. Present-day actors like Vijayakanth, Sarathkumar, and Kamal Hassan are struggling to carved a niche for themselves.

It would be a mistake on the fans’ part to compare Rajinikanth with M. G. Ramachandran and J. Jayalalithaa as the charisma of both the former CMs was on a different plateau. There is already criticism that Rajinikanth makes a speech referring to entry into politics ahead of a film’s release only to promote it. One hopes that better sense prevails on the blind and mad fans!

A. Jainulabdeen,


Politics is a not theatre where one can act a hero. Politics is a playing field where one has to prove his worth and exhibit how far he is committed to the welfare of the people, future of the country and the nation’s inclusive development. What kind of resurgence, change and political revolution does Rajinikanth want in Tamil Nadu politics, which has been ruled by either of the two main Dravidian parties, DMK or AIADMK, since 1967? It is strange that he is shying away from being the Chief Minister and yet wants to be in politics and wants a change, implying that he wants an alternative to Dravidian parties. The rich, super-rich, the upper and lower middle class are more concerned about their businesses and professions and the poverty-stricken people more concerned about the next meal and any uprising or revolution by them is out of question. Corruption has taken deep roots in political and government corridors and the society and it cannot be uprooted overnight, and voters are won through polarisation and bought through money-power, man-power and muscle-power. The ideas and ideology of Rajnikanth are praiseworthy but it remains to be seen whether his dream will be fulfilled in the prevailing political scenario across the country and in Tamil Nadu. Before suggesting others to bring about a change, let him first be the change and stay away from movies and cine-world.

M.Y. Shariff,


Rights of pedestrians

Certainly, making dashboard cameras mandatory, with the video evidence accepted in the investigation, would protect rule-abiding motorists (Editorial, “Danger ahead,” March 13). But what about law-abiding and eco-sensitive pedestrians and cyclists? Pedestrians and cyclists are arguably the most vulnerable species on Indian roads — who are fighting global warming with every step, every day — but unfortunately in India, no one worries about them. It won’t be a surprise if they form a significant portion of 1.5 lakh people who lost their lives on the road each year since 2015, most of the time without their fault. Hence, cameras along with Global Positioning System (GPS) need to be made mandatory for motorised two-wheelers and three-wheelers also, along with other motorised vehicles. With the ever-falling prices of electronic gadgets, this won’t be costing much money, and only a political will is necessary.

A. Venkatasubramanian,

Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu

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