Sir — Truth is stranger than fiction in a democracy. We have all heard of ghost voters — fake voters or dead persons in whose names votes are still cast — and politicians winning elections on sympathy votes. But rarely does one hear of a dead man winning a poll riding on a sympathy wave created by his own death. This is what happened in a remote hamlet in Bihar when a candidate passed away before the panchayat polls. The villagers still voted for him as it was his last wish to win the election. One could argue that this is a waste of taxpayers’ money. But since most elected representatives in India ‘ghost’ — millennial-speak for abandon — their constituencies after the elections, perhaps this is just business as usual.
Sir — It was heartening to read that the adivasis of the Dumka district in Jharkhand have been taking special care to conserve nature (“The Python Whisperers”, Nov 28). Given a chance, nature can always regenerate itself. If all humans took care of nature, it would have blossomed all over instead of giving way to a concrete jungle. If we do not learn from the lessons taught by nature — Covid-19 is one of them — we will be responsible for our own destruction.
Sir — “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country” — did Vir Das know of this historic statement made by John F. Kennedy when he parodied his country at the Kennedy Center (“Tunnel visions”, Nov 23)? On the other hand, Kangana Ranaut tries to stay in the limelight by making unethical statements because her film career is not doing well. Neither Das nor Ranaut has the ability to hold a mirror up to society without maligning the image of the country.
Sir — As an ardent admirer of Test matches, I enjoyed reading the article, “Test cap will stay special to all players” (Nov 28), by Sunil Gavaskar. It reminded me of my childhood when I used to go to Eden Gardens to watch Test matches with my grandfather — he was a die-hard fan of that format. We always started early so that we could reach the stadium before that day’s play commenced. We used to carry binoculars and spend the whole day peering on to the field at Eden. I completely agree with Gavaskar when he says that Test cricket is magical.
Sir — It is disgraceful that some Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have put out pictures of what seems to be the China Beijing Daxing International Airport as the model of the proposed Noida International Airport (“Thickest skin is here”, Nov 28). What makes it worse is that Union and state cabinet ministers, too, shared this picture before verifying it. This is not the first time that such a goof-up has happened. The media cell of the BJP should be hauled up for this gaffe. Surely one can expect a little more care from the party which professes to have the largest membership in the world?
Sir — The emergence of the new variant of the coronavirus, Omicron, has dangerous implications for the world (“WHO to India: Scale up”, Nov 28). The World Health Organization has listed this as a variant of concern. South Africa and Europe are already registering an alarming rise in cases. India should review its air travel policies, especially where high-risk countries are involved, in order to contain the spread.
People are complacent when it comes to observing Covid protocols and the vaccination programme has not been able to keep pace with the virus. The government must come up with an aggressive plan of action to avert another fatal wave of infections.
Nellimarla, Andhra Pradesh
Sir — India should revisit its decision to allow quarantine-free entry to foreign tourists from 99 countries. Curbs on international travel should not be eased just yet. Experts think that the new variant contains mutations against which existing vaccines may not be effective. Given the WHO’s warning, we should start taking precautionary measures seriously once again.
Sir — The Centre must ensure that all Indians are vaccinated as soon as possible given the rising global concerns about the new strain of Covid-19. Much was made of the number of vaccines administered in India but only above 30 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The prime minister has rightly asked officials to review plans of easing international travel restrictions.
Sir — Omicron is a highly mutated variant of the coronavirus. This may reduce vaccine-induced immunity. If Omicron turns out to be as contagious as it is suspected to be, densely populated countries like India will be at high risk. Countries where the new variant was found did well to transparently share the scientific data needed to evolve an effective response.
The new variant has shaken the global economy, too, as is evident from the fall in stock markets across the world. But we must find out more about the new variant — scientists and vaccine-makers are already running tests — before pushing the panic button about another deadly wave of the pandemic hitting us.
G. David Milton,
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu