Show some restraint
Sir — The Covid-19 pandemic has reportedly sparked a global shortage in condoms, since manufacturing has come to a halt and distribution pathways have been paralyzed. This is worrisome. At a time when people are stuck at home and bored, birth control and protection are of utmost importance. Demographic experts already expect a baby boom by the end of this year. Not only are there moral quandaries against bringing children into a world that is ailing from climate change, but the recession that is set to hit the globe will make it financially difficult to bring up these kids.
Sir — The article, “Home alone” (March 25), by Uddalak Mukherjee reminded me of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground. The theme there — as in much of Dostoevsky — is isolation from society and how this is linked to the idea of freedom. The ‘underground man’ feels alienated from his peers and isolated from a society which, he thinks, can never accept him. He thus retreats to an “underground” world of self isolation. The narrator believes that neither he nor society has the ability to change. He struggles with feelings of depravity and shame.
Similarly, the underprivileged man in society who has found himself isolated from power and its perks, harbours ill-feelings about those he thinks are responsible for his isolation. As a result of this, he also struggles with low self-worth and insecurity. As these feelings take root — no doubt owing to society’s refusal to reach out to him in a way that is meaningful — his alienation grows in strength. After a point, the chasm between him and society reaches a stage where it cannot be bridged. Malign forces — self-serving politicians would be one example of this — fill this gap with lies, half-truths and false promises of inclusion in order to sunder the tightly-knit fabric of society completely. Is this not what Hannah Arendt and Mukherjee, too, are talking about?
Sir — Uddalak Mukherjee speaks of the forced social isolation imposed by the spread of Covid-19 in his article. Even though we are being forced to stay at home, are we really isolated? That, indeed, would be a luxury for some of us. Being caught at home with in-laws, husband and children — those living in joint families have it worse — is a nightmare of its own. Discord and generational fault lines are aggravated by the restriction in movement; there is also excess energy that people are expending by meddling in the lives and work of others. To make matters worse, isolation seems to make everyone more hungry, forcing many women in patriarchal India to stay chained to the kitchen. Those of us working from home are finding it difficult to balance work and life. Some isolation would be a welcome relief in this situation.
Sir — The situation in the New Delhi airport is terrible. I returned from Tel Aviv on March 22, landing in New Delhi at 7.30 am. From then till 11 pm, I was put through a stressful situation in the name of checking the spread of the coronavirus. After immigration, I, along with other Israeli passengers, was detained in the luggage collection area for eight long hours. The space was heavily crowded with people from all other international flights. There were no separate enclosures for people coming from infected countries. There was no provision of hand sanitizers except in the washroom. As a result we could not eat or drink anything the whole day. After that, we, the senior citizens, were taken in three buses, once again in close contact with other passengers, on a five-hour journey to a Jain guest house for a quarantine of 14 days.
Yet, the younger passengers were tested for temperature and released. Surely this is not enough to check the spread of the coronavirus? Without the protective protocols being maintained, the airport had turned into a dangerous zone that might have infected healthy people and multiplied the risk of contagion.