Letters to the Editor — May 11, 2021

Behind the numbers

While it is difficult to find fault with the actual numbers dredged by the survey mentioned in the Lokniti-CSDS-The Hindu study (‘Post-poll survey’ – Assam, May 8), which are frightening, things do not appear to be so grim when considered in the light of other circumstances.

The vote for a National Democratic Alliance government was not entirely unexpected, as this writer had hinted at in his article, “Arresting the juggernaut in Assam” (OpEd page, March 25, 2021).

The Indian National Congress was fighting against heavy odds, what with the top leadership under a cloud thanks to persistent sniping and the State leaders themselves involved in turf wars, and the consequent weakening of links with grass-root workers. The party had to fight a massive propaganda onslaught which had a communal tone. Its campaign was hampered by a failure in trying to focus on the real issues. The assumption was that sheer public dissatisfaction with the incumbent government would secure the party the votes required. The party’s ‘five guarantees’ came close to the real issues, but without succeeding in linking them in the public mind with the lapses and the defects in the policies of the incumbent government.

But the main part of the BJP’s campaign had been overt and covert communal allegations sustained for a year, backed by scores of fake videos, false claims and fear-mongering. Unlike in the rest of the country, the tinder that lit the fire here was not so much hate as fear. The fear was stoked in the form of the leader of the AIUDF. For people accustomed to looking up to the State government for jobs, small contracts and other opportunities, this was the real threat. This perception was bolstered by organised right-wing ideological work at the grass-roots, and backed by the government in power.

But much greater was the implicit and explicit endorsement of this myth by the new-fledged regional outfits. This did not help them in the polls, but certainly tilted the scales in favour of the BJP. Not to be forgotten were the sudden showers of money under various schemes in the months preceding the election.

Even so, the Congress did fight, getting a respectable share of votes.

Hiren Gohain,

Guwahati, Assam

Virus transmission

The premier health agencies in the world seem to have been late in recognising — extracting an unintended heavy cost — that transmission of the novel coronavirus virus involves aerosol particles which remain suspended for longer durations. Transmission by droplets and by touch, which have dominated the discourse and public protocols all these months, remain relegated at the population level. Masks and distancing still remain the link to personal safety, but a whole set of new protocols and guidelines need to be quickly worked and relentlessly pressed into public awareness and behaviour. Evidence for airborne transmission as the primary mechanism of spread has been available since the beginning and continuously upgraded. It is a pity that no national health agency anywhere thought it fit to study the emerging evidence and change protocols at least. This task, of finding new norms to replace ineffective norms, becomes an even more serious imperative for India.

M. Balakrishnan,


Library revival

The hint that the new government in Tamil Nadu will take steps to revive the Anna Centenary Library at Kotturpuram, Chennai, is glad tidings. Those who longed for a library stocked with all kinds of books and magazines could find a wide variety of material there. The British Council library and the American library, also in the city, were class reading places but they catered largely to research scholars.

Many Union Public Service Commission aspirants considered the Anna library a second home. The library can consider other strategies to bring back bibliophiles. Better canteen arrangements can be thought of. Importantly, there should be plans to build up the stock of books and related material with the help of other countries. There can also be a provision to have stalls sell GI tagged products to create greater awareness.

K.R. Chidambara Kumarasamy,


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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 1:38:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/letters-to-the-editor-may-11-2021/article34529995.ece

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