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Letters to the Editor: Social media sets false notions about people’s health

Readers write in from Pune, Calcutta and New Delhi
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The Editorial Board   |   Published 07.11.22, 03:24 AM

Unreal image 

Sir -- A study published in PLOS One shows that a significant portion of food content on TikTok promotes weight-normative messaging or the idea that a person’s weight is the most important indicator of his or her health. As a result, food is treated as a means to an end — weight loss. What makes it hard to regulate such content are the ambiguous lines between wellness and lifestyle-related content and those that impose unscientific, unrealistic beauty standards. Social media, then, perpetuates the false notion that a person’s health is inextricably tied to his or her appearance.


Yashodhara Sen, Calcutta

Time to act

Sir — In the run-up to the CoP-26, several developed countries had declared their intention to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 (“Avoiding Armageddon”, Nov 6). These declarations were not enough to keep the hope of restricting global warming to 1.5°C alive. Four-fifths of the global carbon budget to limit warming to 1.5°C (with 50% probability) has already been exhausted. Developed countries are responsible for more than half of these historical CO2 emissions. While there was much celebration surrounding these targets, it has become clear that developed countries may be unlikely to meet even the inadequate targets they have set. CoP-27 affords a critical moment to acknowledge and address the concerns surrounding energy access and security in developing countries. Addressing this stark energy poverty in developing countries is important because there is a strong correlation between energy supply and human development. Developed countries argue that green energy constitutes a great business opportunity for developing countries as it has become cheaper. Yet, in the United States of America, 81% of primary energy is from fossil fuels. In Europe, fossil fuels constitute 76% of the energy consumption (coal, oil, and natural gas contribute 11%, 31% and 34%, respectively).

Sunita Taneja, New Delhi

Sir — Bhupender Yadav, the Union minister for environment, forest and climate change, has informed that India will insist on action and a clear pathway that developed countries must follow to deliver long-promised finance to developing countries for adapting to climate change threats. India will also support initiatives that provide technical assistance to developing countries for averting, and minimising loss and damage due to the impacts of climate change, and insist on an institutional network to realise these. Promises such as these are heartening if the country can stick to them.

Ashok Ganguly, Calcutta

Sir — There is a strong belief in some quarters that CoP-27 may not discuss climate change mitigation largely on account of the ongoing energy stress in Europe. The RussiaUkraine crisis and resulting global energy supply shortages have dented everyone’s ability to reduce emissions. If countries allow these entirely avoidable crises to dominate the narrative instead of a catastrophe that is emergent and nigh unstoppable, there is no saving the planet anymore.

Asmeeta Shah, Pune

Popular wave

Sir — The gun attack that injured Pakistan’s former prime minister, Imran Khan, has created a wave of sympathy and added to his burgeoning popularity. Since his removal from power, Khan has consistently upped the ante in his effort against the Establishment’s ability to influence politics from behind the scenes. His narrative, not backed by any evidence, is that his removal from office was the result of a conspiracy involving the United States of America and the military leadership. This conspiracy theory has found resonance with the traditionally pro-military, right-wing elements of Pakistani society. His success, if it comes, will not strengthen constitutional rule, civilian supremacy or democracy. It will only result in the emergence of an ultra-nationalist, neo-fascist era under a civilian rather than a military leader.

Rahul Dev, Calcutta

Too harsh

Sir — What happens when there is a grave lapse in editorial judgment and something false gets published? If the report is against someone who wields influence and the media institution concerned is a known critic of the government, the consequences be disproportionately severe. The Wire finds itself in this predicament after a series of its stories has been discredited owing to what it admits is fabricated evidence by one of its own consultants. A police complaint, alleging a conspiracy by The Wire to harm Amit Malviya’s reputation through forgery, has been filed against it. The Delhi Police lost no time in searching the residences of its editors and seizing laptops and phones. Even by the set standards of the present regime in dealing with vocal dissenters, the hurry shown and the seizures made by the police are shocking. The effort seems to be to make an example of The Wire. Despite the element of forgery in this case, one cannot dismiss a possible conspiracy to discredit The Wire.

Soumi Bhattacharya, Calcutta

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