Sir — Kerala in association with the World Wide Fund is all set to organize a dragonfly festival with training sessions and a ‘dragonfly backyard watch’. Citizen science projects such as this are perfect to build a bridge between man and nature, which is key to protecting the delicate ecological balance which, given a chance, can thrive. Considering the amount of space humans take up, man-animal conflict is now unavoidable. It is thus extremely important that people learn to cohabit with creatures. Insects are especially misunderstood and the dragonfly festival is thus a step in the right direction.
Sir — A Supreme Court bench has said that it is “strange” that state governments are opening up activities that have an impact on economic interests but keeping religious places shut. But is this really so strange? Economic activities — even the running of malls and beauty parlours — have a direct effect on livelihood, something that puts food on the table and keeps people alive. Surely, the same cannot be said of religious worship? People can worship in private, do they really need to go to a temple to do that? Most religions say that god is omnipresent; where then is the need to place one’s faith in man-made stone idols? One must not forget that it is idolatry that led to the inception of one of the darkest periods in the history of independent India. Given that the destruction and hooliganism started by L.K. Advani’s rath yatra has now reached its culmination with the bhoomi pujan for the Ram mandir, perhaps one should not be surprised that religion is still considered on a par with — if not more important than — life and death.
The only way to keep the virus at bay is to avoid social interactions. Essential activities cannot be stopped, but all other activities must be cut down upon as far as possible. Congregating in places of religious worship, in times like these, cannot but be considered an unnecessary hazard.
Sir — One small hole is all it takes for a dam to break. Once one community is allowed to visit their places of worship — the Supreme Court has ordered the opening of some Jain temples in Maharashtra — other communities will ask for the same privilege. Soon, the request will not just be to visit temples but also to celebrate festivals — with Durga Puja around the corner, such requests are only to be expected. Since governments irrespective of their political colour pay more attention to pleasing populist sentiments, it is the duty of the courts to ensure that people do not get carried away.
Religion cannot be allowed to get in the way of people’s well-being. It does not need to be practised in public with other people, it can very well take place within the safety of the home.
Ashok Kumar Sen
True or false
Sir — Journalism is in a state of considerable flux. New digital platforms have unleashed innovative journalistic practices that enable novel forms of communication and greater global reach than at any point before this in human history. But on the other hand, disinformation and fake news have also increased and spread like wildfire. This is affecting the way people interpret news and daily developments in the country. Fake news and sophisticated disinformation campaigns are especially problematic in democratic systems.
In order to maintain an open, democratic system, it is important that the government, businesses, consumers and hoi polloi work together to solve these problems. Governments should promote news literacy and a strong culture of journalism. The news industry must also step up and provide high-quality journalism in order to gain public trust and counter fake news and disinformation instead of legitimizing them to increase TRP.
Sir — Journalism and fake news have become near inseparable at present. This does not bode well.