Sir — Reeling from the pandemic, people everywhere are looking for a ray of hope. Many find it in a vaccine, others have to resort to faith. A temple in Coimbatore, which has set up idols of ‘Corona devi’, is an example. Devotees pray to this goddess to save them from the virus. People should be free to seek solace wherever they find it, but the fact that they now have to bank solely on faith points to a failure in governance. For instance, in spite of all the efforts of medical professionals, many Indians have not been able to get vaccinated. If people’s faith in modern science is to be retained, the Centre must focus on building a stronger healthcare system.
Sir — The truth about the atrocities unleashed by the colonial white settlers in Canada upon indigenous students came to light when a mass grave containing the remains of 215 children was discovered at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School by a specialist using ground penetrating radar (“Remains of 215 kids found in Canada”, May 30). There were 130 such schools in Canada where indigenous children were forcibly separated from their families and tortured in the name of education and assimilation into Canadian society. They were denied food and even killed, clearly with a motive to extirpate the aboriginal race. Forensic investigations are yet to ascertain the exact date of the incident.
Through the ages, people of the same country have been pitted against one another across the world. Many have been denied the right to live in society and killed for merely hailing from aboriginal communities. It is unfortunate that the indigenous people were rendered helpless before the white settlers who used to lord over them by means of their wealth, education and political power, leaving no scope for equal opportunity. Any effort on their part to revolt against injustice was put down by the ruling class.
From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 1,50,000 children were required to attend State-run Christian schools in Canada. They were forced to convert to Christianity and not allowed to speak their native languages. Many were verbally, physically and sexually abused, and up to 6,000 are said to have been killed. The last one of these schools stopped functioning in 1996.
Most would agree that the genocidal customs practised in the residential schools in colonial Canada comprised a disgraceful chapter in modern history. Few, however, feel outraged by the history of similar, caste-based atrocities in India. In this country, people from the so-called lower castes have been victims of injustice and oppression for thousands of years. The days of such horrors in Canada may be gone, but the abolition of the Indian caste system remains a far cry.
Sir — The incident uncovered at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School sent shock waves across the world. This school in British Colombia was closed in 1978. The report on the incident documents a number of instances of physical abuse, rape, malnutrition and other atrocities suffered by many of the 1,50,000 children who attended the schools, typically run by Christian churches on behalf of Ottawa from the 1840s to the 1990s.
More than 4,100 students have died in such residential schools. At the Kamloops school, some of the 215 children whose remains have been found were three years old. This is, as the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, put it, a heartbreaking discovery. It is truly “a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter” of the country’s history.
Sir — The discovery of the mass grave of indigenous children in Canada is a horrifying reminder of colonial atrocities. However, racial discrimination or violence is far from an issue of the past — the native tribes of North America continue to suffer even today. Taking definitive action to afford equal opportunities to them is the only way to honour the memory of the victims whose bodies have been found.
Sir — In a shocking violation of norms laid down under the coronavirus prevention programme, at least 20 residents of Uttar Pradesh’s Siddharthnagar district were reportedly administered a cocktail of two different Covid-19 vaccines — a group of villagers at a primary health centre were given Covishield for the first dose and Covaxin for the second. The rules strictly forbid the mixing of vaccines even though its impact is still under research. Admitting negligence, the chief medical officer of Siddharthnagar said that it was a clear deviation from norms. A thorough probe must be conducted and the guilty must be taken to task.