Sir — The government is considering the reopening of gymnasiums — they have been shut since March — in the next phase of emerging from the lockdown. Even if there are strict restrictions in place, it is still a bad idea to reopen them. Gyms are one of the most unhygienic places, with people sharing equipment. While all machinery will be expected to be sanitized, it is not possible to wipe it all down every time a customer uses the equipment. Although it is true that gym owners have suffered irreparable losses, it is perhaps in the best interests of all citizens to keep gyms closed for a little longer.
Sir — The Covid-19 pandemic, which has become an unfortunate reality of our lives, will undoubtedly cast a shadow on the bhoomi pujan scheduled to be held in Ayodhya on August 5 for the construction of the long-awaited Ram temple (“PM plans temple date in pandemic”, July 21). While it is an auspicious occasion for many, the Nationalist Congress Party chief, Sharad Pawar, justly pointed out that the eradication of Covid-19 must take precedence over the construction of a temple. The Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra trust has invited the prime minister, Narendra Modi, to lay the foundation stone of the temple.
However, it must be remembered that the chain of events leading to the construction of the temple is shrouded in social strife and communal violence that had irreparably weakened the secular foundation of the nation. Thus the bhoomi pujan, which is to be televised live by Doordarshan, must be undertaken with caution. The event should remain an act of piety and not become a demonstration of power by the majority community. The plan to take donations from 10 crore families for the construction must not become a means for political mobilization and polarization. It is also unfortunate that the present prime minister, in contrast to Jawaharlal Nehru, who reportedly declined the invitation to attend the inauguration of the Somnath temple as he deemed it inappropriate to identify himself with a particular religion in a secular democracy, is widely expected to attend an event steeped in Hindu nationalism.
G. David Milton,
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu
Sir — The bhoomi pujan ceremony that is to be held for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya is likely to be attended by around 200 people in the midst of a pandemic. In view of the rising rate of infection in India, is it a good idea to gather so many in one place? People might wish to attend the ceremony in person, but this move would also pose tremendous health risks.
It is perhaps wise to conduct the event with minimal attendance and telecast it on multiple platforms. The prime minister has been vocal about transforming India into a digital giant. What better way can there be of propagating his ‘Digital India’ vision? The chief minister of Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray, has rightly advocated for conducting the bhoomi pujan digitally.
According to health experts, it will be a long time before the coronavirus is brought under control. If this is indeed so, we must make concerted efforts to change our conventional habits and implement innovative technological solutions. Conducting the bhoomi pujan online would be a great solution to the problem at hand and would also encourage ordinary citizens to conduct all social events digitally.
Harshal Suresh Desale,
Sir — The year 2020 has been difficult on multiple counts. Not only has India witnessed the spread of the novel coronavirus, but there has been an unprecedented economic crisis and immense rainfall and floods.
As people move out of their homes in flood-affected areas in panic without taking the necessary precautions, they are exposing themselves to the virus, making it even more difficult to contain the disease. People are also wary of moving to government relief centres for fear of contracting Covid-19. The fate of the wildlife in these regions is hanging by a thread as well. The floods have led to the deaths of animals in several national parks.
People in many parts of the country are stuck between a pandemic on one hand and unending rain on the other. The present condition of the nation, in spite of the best efforts of the government, is rather disturbing.