Letters to the Editor — May 24, 2021

The COVID fight

No matter what we learn about COVID-19 transmission, said or done about it — touch, droplets, now aerosols, lockdowns, no lockdowns, everything in between — the virus seems to be spreading effortlessly.

Gaining whatever protection we can by masking, double masking now, is a given. Many western countries, now being clearly saved by rapid vaccination, will have no immediate interest in unravelling the missing science, if any. They have their priorities now. The guideline that the virus-laden aerosol can travel some 10 metres is not very useful. It gives the impression that there is no safety anywhere. Researching this can give us more protection options.

M. Balakrishnan,


‘Variant’ politics

Recently, Singapore is said to have summoned the Indian Ambassador over comments made in India that linked a variant of the COVID-19 virus with that nation. The Indian government has asked digital media to remove content promoting the tag ‘Indian variant’ from their platforms. Slowly, this is becoming a prestige issue. The probability of mutation increases with a rise in the number of cases. It also reflects the failure of countries in curbing the spread of pandemic. Lives can be saved when governments show this sort of proactiveness in the fight against the pandemic rather than focusing on ‘naming’ issues. Anyway, this can be destigmatised if new variants are named the way cyclones are named.

M. Kranthi Kumar,

Warangal, Telangana


Sunderlal Bahuguna

One of the definitive histories of the Chipko movement and its chief originators was eloquently penned by the distinguished historian, Ramachandra Guha, in his book, The Unquiet Woods. The success this tree-hugging movement achieved, although limited, was due to its communitarian orientation and inclusivity. However, the forces that were advocating mega projects such as Tehri dam eventually triumphed despite the best efforts of selfless activists like Sunderlal Bahuguna, because our political leaders, irrespective of party affiliation, listened only to the forces that backed them. Leaders such as Bahuguna are often ignored while they live, praised when they achieve some fame and stature, but their ideas on environmental protection are pointedly ignored by the political establishment.

A case in point, which is also of contemporary relevance, is the article written by Pankaj Sekhsaria in The Hindu recently about the Great Nicobar development project. This undertaking, estimated to run into several hundred crores, is guaranteed to cause environmental destruction to the pristine marine ecosystem. In addition, it is highly likely that it will also seriously affect the nesting beaches of turtles. The “green panel”, fully cognisant of these matters, nevertheless recommends the project be allowed to proceed by limiting the scope of the environmental assessment. What transpired in Uttarakhand during the height of the “Chipko Andolan” was also similar to what is now projected to happen in the Great Nicobar. It is the same corrupt environmental destruction in a different locale brought forth by ignoring the severe consequences of such actions.

G. Parameswaran,


If there is one environmental movement since Independence which brought communities together at the grass-root level, there can be no doubt that it is the Chipko movement. Sunderlal Bahuguna’s passing has undoubtedly marked the end of idealism and inspiring activism. His message that the true worth of nature does not lie in the profits that accrued from its exploitation but that it is a life itself will continue to inspire.

M. Jeyaram,

Sholavandan, Tamil Nadu

Sunderlal Bahuguna’s life is a lesson; a period of learning and teaching. We must strive to promote his values. Whenever we will speak about the most powerful environmental movements, we will talk about Bahuguna.

Saurabh L, Sutar,


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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 10:18:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/letters-to-the-editor-may-24-2021/article34629150.ece

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