Sir — It was upsetting to read that the former captain of the Pakistan men’s cricket team, Shahid Afridi, has tested positive for Covid-19. He is the first high-profile cricketer to have tested positive for the disease. While he has retired from international cricket, this development must be taken into consideration by cricket boards all around the world while they mull the resumption of active cricket. The coronavirus threat is far from over; with cricket being a sport involving some level of contact as well as players handling the same ball and wickets, the chance of the infection spreading is high. The health and safety of players and their families must be prioritized above all else.
Sir — There seems to be no end to the gruesome stories of animals in India dying after consuming — or being fed — explosive-laden food. After the death of the pregnant elephant in Kerala that caused national outrage — the pachyderm had consumed a pineapple filled with crackers that exploded in her mouth and caused grievous injury — two new cases have gone on to shake the country again. In Himachal Pradesh, a pregnant cow’s mouth and jaw were heavily injured after it was allegedly fed eatables mixed with explosives by its owner’s neighbour. And in Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu, 12 tribal people have been arrested for reportedly having killed a jackal by feeding it meat stuffed with explosives.
The Union environment ministry has indicated that the death of the elephant in Kerala was an accident — it ended up consuming fruit that local farmers illegally plant to scare away wild boars. And it is true that these actions by local people are the result of the State not doing enough to ensure that farmers have the means to construct fences around their land to keep away wild animals. However, the spurt of cases of various species suffering and dying of explosive-related injuries shows that the tendency among human beings to resort to cruel means while dealing with animals cannot be denied. In the case of the injured cow, who gave birth to a calf soon after the injury, the owner alleged mischief by his neighbour. In the case of the jackal, the 12 men who are being investigated are said to have attacked it for its meat and teeth. While it is being reported that they belong to an indigenous community known for hunting, why must the means of capture and killing be so inhumane?
Sir — It was heartbreaking to read about the cow in Himachal Pradesh and the jackal in Tamil Nadu that suffered explosive-related injuries — the latter died of its wounds — so soon after the death of the 15-year-old tusker in Kerala. While such incidents must be common, they are only coming to light now after the death of the elephant sent waves of grief across the nation and was widely covered by the media. While cases in which animals die because the local people had no other means to protect their land must be highlighted in order to take the State to task, other instances in which the deaths are caused by sheer human cruelty must be dealt with differently. Stringent action must be taken against those who hurt animals for sport or as an act of revenge against other people.
Sir — It is praiseworthy that Australia and India have inked a comprehensive pact on defence, trade and other areas of mutual cooperation. India should be proactive in making more strides on the diplomatic and trade fronts in the post-Covid world. The coronavirus pandemic is going to make a big difference in the bilateral relations among countries all over the world, and India stands to gain an advantage from projecting a positive image of a power that can be trusted. This will put India in a good position at negotiation tables. India has already been invited by the United States of America to the G7 group meet — it has been postponed till September — as a special invitee, as the US is in favour of expanding the bloc to a G10 or G11 that includes India. India should walk this path of diplomacy carefully by keeping its own interests at the centre of its strategies.
Nellimarla, Andhra Pradesh
Sir — The editorial, “When James met Jane” (June 13), highlighted the qualities of the fictional British espionage agent, James Bond, which many people would not consider to be humane characteristics. Bond as a secret agent is known to be a ruthless killer, a womanizer and even an arsonist. These qualities may have earned him fans, but there are many others who do not approve. This is one of the reasons why the Bourne films — they revolve around a fictional assassin from the Central Intelligence Agency named Jason Bourne, who is played by the actor, Matt Damon — were so popular with the audience. Viewers regularly compared Bourne to Bond, and pointed out that the former, while being an agent searching for his identity, has discernibly more respect for women. Thus, the Bourne series did give the Bond films some competition; as a character with more humane qualities, Bourne seems to have the upper hand.