Letters to the Editor — March 20, 2020

Battling COVID-19

There has been a steady increase in the spread of COVID-19 across the country. At this juncture, there is an onerous task on the citizens to display some much-needed resilience by shouldering social responsibilities for ensuring the common welfare in the society (“Time for powerful display of humanity,” Editorial Page, March 19) . There should be no blame-game across nations on the origins of the virus; there should instead be timely awareness campaigns. In this connection, it would be very pertinent to follow the best practices adopted by places like South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, where the people, apart from protecting themselves, have also played a significant role in preventing the spread of the virus by exhibiting high levels of humanity. Hence, we need to behave like ‘citizen warriors’ in our crusade against the virus.

G. Ramasubramanyam,


The early adoption of screening, tracing and quarantining procedure adopted by India has definitely helped to lower the rate of spread of the COVID-19 virus in the beginning stages in the country (Editorial page, “Time for a powerful display of humanity,” Mar. 19). Not withstanding those efforts, the number of cases have started to increase rapidly in the last 15-16 days and have crossed 170 as of now. This seemingly low number for a large country like India could be deceptive and should not make us complacent about our response to the pandemic. The testing level of about 10 per million in India is one of the lowest in the world, which could be misleading us to believe that India has been spared from a bigger outbreak. If the total number of cases doesn’t go up substantially even after a better testing standard of say 120-150 per million, the nation can heave a sigh of relief. Instead of repenting later, the government should ramp up the testing levels immediately by at least 10 times the present level, at least to rule out an outbreak in the coming weeks. The all-important preventive norm of social distancing is not being strictly implemented throughout the country. To prevent a catastrophe later, people should be prepared to undergo smaller hardships like confining themselves to ones own houses, avoiding gatherings, maintaining at least a distance of about a metre between any two people while meeting, etc. Surprisingly, Parliament is still in session, though the nation is being told to avoid crowding. Politicians are still attending marriages, where thousands are gathering throwing all the preventive norms to the wind. Persons in authority should set examples to be followed by people at large. Government should increase the testing levels and rule out widespread presence of COVID-19 in a dormant state and people should strictly follow the preventive norms like social distancing, hand hygiene, avoiding gatherings, etc. as an effective response to the deadly pandemic that is confronting the humanity.

Kosaraju Chandramouli,


A Justice-turned-MP

Prashant Bhushan has literally ripped the veil off the nomination of former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha, a mere four months after he demitted office as CJI (“In upper house nomination, a fall for ‘aloofness’,” March 19). It is an accepted fact that almost all the judgments delivered by the Supreme Court benches presided over by Justice Gogoi went in favour of the present dispensation. The grim irony is that Justice Gogoi was one of the four judges to come out openly in 2018 against the then-Chief Justice Dipak Misra whose role as ‘master of the roster’ was faulted by the quartet. While the other three have walked into the sunset without any fanfare, Justice Gogoi has blotted his copybook. By accepting the nomination without the least demur, he has clearly done a disservice to the judiciary which, as such, is hard pressed to assert its independence and sovereignty in a situation where the executive has never shied away from wielding the whip using weapons in its arsenal like transfers, elevations etc.

C.V. Aravind,


With post-retirement carrots to look forward to, our constitutional bodies are likely to overlook the guardrails of democracy where our current rankings are bleak. This is another version of a committed bureaucracy and judiciary which was promoted during the ill-fated Emergency era. It is time such carrots are altogether eliminated. Let all posts held post-retirement be during their active period of service, like membership of commissions, Upper house of the parliament, tribunals, regulatory bodies and a host of other constitutional institutions. If in the larger interest of administration or the nation, there is a compelling need to appoint a person of such exceptional competence and talent, there should be a cooling period of one or two years post retirement before such appointments are made. The sound principles on which our Constitution is based, like protection of fundamental rights, Rule of Law and separation of powers that the Constitution gave us and the courts have often upheld should be safeguarded.

H.N. Ramakrishna,


Biden vs. Trump?

Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona and Florida on Tuesday has given him a near-insurmountable lead. Significantly, in 2016, Donald Trump took both the States. Mr. Biden spoke directly to Bernie Sanders’s supporters, saying he and his opponent “may disagree on tactics, but we share a common vision” on the need to make healthcare more affordable, reduce income inequality and curb climate change. Mr. Sanders earlier pledged to support his opponent if he loses the nomination. Democrats are concerned about defeating Mr. Trump — and believe Mr. Biden is the best person to do it.

S.S. Paul,

Chakdaha, Nadia, West Bengal

Buoyed by the impressive wins in the recent primaries and backed by a string of endorsements from former presidential contenders, former Vice-President Joe Biden’s candidacy and campaign have gained considerable momentum. Americans will be sceptical of electing a democratic socialist like Bernie Sanders as their President. As of now, Mr. Biden has the best chance of unseating a deeply divisive and racial President like Mr. Donald Trump. It is time for Mr. Sanders to gracefully bow out of the race and whole-heartedly endorse Mr. Biden’s presidential bid.

C.G. Kuriakose

Kothamangalam, Kerala

Minority rights

The cultural and educational rights under Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution have given the minorities a sense of security and belonging. A vast majority of madrasas in the country are run by Muslims with their contributions of zakat (an obligatory tax paid by the rich). The clergy who were earlier reluctant to introduce subjects like mathematics and science in the curriculum have changed their stand. The minority institutions established over the years have been contributing a great deal to bring the Muslim community to the national mainstream. This being the case, the ambiguity owing to different judicial interpretations on Article 30 is indeed a cause for concern (Op-Ed, “An SC verdict violative of minority rights,” March 19).

Syed Sultan Mohiddin,

Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh

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