Sir — A former children’s commissioner of the United Kingdom, Annie Longfield, has filed a case against TikTok, alleging that the app illegally collects its underage users’ data. TikTok’s handling of personal data has long been a matter of concern. Longfield is of the opinion that the app is breaching the data protection law in the UK and in the European Union. It has been alleged that phone numbers, location and biometric data are being taken without sufficient warning. This is worrying and, if true, threatens the safety of millions of children worldwide. This must be investigated urgently.
Sir — It is a relief to know that amid a virulent second wave of Covid-19 infections, the Centre has taken the decision to allow the vaccination of all citizens above the age of 18 from May 1 (“All-adult vaccine ploy on day of ingratitude”, April 20). This is a welcome move. However, it is worrying that as of Monday, only 8 per cent of the population had received the first dose of the vaccine while a mere 1 per cent were fully inoculated. Many front-line workers are yet to be vaccinated.
At this time, when the pandemic is at its peak, the current vaccination programme to halt the spread of the disease is simply too slow. A strategic programme to vaccinate 60 per cent of the population should be drawn and executed before the end of June. The states and the Centre must work towards creating greater awareness among the people and urge them to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The next step would be to allow the vaccination of people below the age of 18, bringing all citizens within the ambit of the inoculation programme. They, too, are vulnerable to the coronavirus. The government must also ensure that there is no hoarding or black-marketeering of the vaccines.
Sir — The decision of the Central government to allow the vaccination of all citizens above the age of 18 comes at a time when the second wave of the coronavirus has led to an unprecedented surge in cases across the country. The Centre was woefully ill-prepared to handle the uptick and now there is an acute shortage of not only oxygen cylinders and hospital beds but also Covid-19 vaccines.
The fact of the matter is that it is the inefficiency and indifference of the Centre that has led to this situation. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party thought that it was wise to hold numerous election rallies in poll-bound states in the midst of a pandemic. They also gave permission to organize the Kumbh Mela where thousands gathered flouting Covid-19 norms. The Centre made weak calls for caution only when the surge of infections at the Kumbh garnered outrage.
Now, with the situation well and truly out of hand, the government must speed up the inoculation programme and vaccinate all citizens on a war footing. The people of India are now living in fear for their lives and those of their loved ones.
Sir — At a time when Covid-19 infections in India are skyrocketing, it is good to know that all adults will be eligible to get vaccinated from next month. The decision was taken by the Centre in a bid to ensure that a maximum number of citizens can be inoculated in a short period of time. The liberalization of the drive will allow states, private hospitals and industrial establishments to procure directly from manufacturers. The private hospitals would have to procure their supplies of the vaccine from the 50 per cent earmarked for entities other than those coming through the Central government channel. It is hoped that India’s vaccination drive will finally pick up.
Khachrod, Madhya Pradesh
Sir — It was wise of Rahul Gandhi to call off all his election rallies ahead of the sixth, seventh and final phases of voting in the West Bengal assembly elections. Bengal is witnessing a sharp surge in Covid-19 cases. Amid this grave and deteriorating situation, parties across the political spectrum have held jam-packed rallies and road shows, where neither leaders nor supporters wore masks or followed social distancing norms. It is heartening that following Gandhi, the Trinamul Congress has decided to shun mega rallies in West Bengal.
On the other hand, instead of cautioning people, the Union home minister, Amit Shah, reportedly said that it is “not right” to link elections with the surge in cases. It is worrying that the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders are yet to grasp the gravity of the situation. The Election Commission, too, has done little to control crowding during campaigning.
It is high time that the EC bans all political rallies for the remaining phases of elections in Bengal. With the current advancements in technology, it is possible to remotely campaign for polls. Politicians should put the well-being of people ahead of electoral gains.