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Letters to the editor: WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, post-Covid ‘revenge travel’

Readers write from Calcutta, Maruthancode, and Mumbai
Representational image.
Representational image.

The Telegraph   |   Published 10.07.21, 12:14 AM

Hold off

Sir — In a temporary respite for those Indian citizens who were circumspect about having to accept WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, the popular messaging app has said that it will not implement the policy till India’s data protection law comes into force. WhatsApp had run into stiff opposition from users who believed that its new policy would threaten their privacy rather than protect it. However, it remains to be seen how citizen-friendly India’s data protection law turns out to be. The Union government’s new IT rules have already been accused of impinging on citizens’ freedom of expression. Would a data law devised by the same dispensation be much different?

Aleya Basu,

Invite trouble

Sir — If large religious congregations and election rallies in the middle of the pandemic resulted in the devastating second wave of Covid-19, then bustling tourist destinations, crowded vaccination centres and hundreds of people jostling against each other in front of liquor outlets could invite, or speed up the arrival of, the third wave. The scale of damage that the third wave would wreak cannot be predicted. As such, the pictures and videos of people swarming to public spaces and openly flouting Covid-19 protocols make for frightening viewing. It is evident from the reckless behaviour of masses of people that the great suffering and the massive death toll caused by Covid-19 so far have had no significant impact on them — at least not enough for them to modify their behaviour.

In what is being called ‘revenge travel’ — a phenomenon in which people are going on holiday even in the middle of a global contagion because they want to escape the fatigue of isolation caused by lockdowns — crowds are thronging to tourist destinations such as Manali or the Kempty Falls in Mussoorie, seeking respite and rejuvenation. They seem to be completely oblivious of the considerable risk to their own lives and those of others. Their actions will wipe out any possibility of citizens and the medical fraternity being able to delay or stave off the third wave even before the second wave has fully receded. Their failure — more accurately, their refusal — to resist the temptation of merrymaking during a raging pandemic could prove fatal. Moreover, going on holiday is grossly inessential at a time like this. A tourist spot is not like a workplace where one needs to go to earn a living, or a grocery store which one is often compelled to visit to stock up on essential items.

It is almost as though these people no longer fear the devastation that the pandemic can bring. The moment curbs are eased after a full or partial lockdown, life goes back to the way it was before the pandemic. It is clear that a lot of people follow restrictions only out of compulsion and the fear of being penalized. They do not do it out of awareness or their own free will. If they did, then we would not be seeing so many people crowding public places, roaming around maskless on the streets, or going on holiday in droves.

The lack of any kind of social distancing in vaccination centres defeats the entire purpose of getting vaccinated. The desperation to get the jabs and the disappointment people display at being turned away make it clear that the problem is not vaccine hesitancy but vaccine shortage. The Kerala High Court has cautioned that if the crowding in front of liquor retail outlets continues the third wave will not be far behind. This warning must be taken seriously. It is imperative that all of us adhere to Covid-19 appropriate behaviour till we finally get the better of the pandemic.

G. David Milton,
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu

Sir — It was unnerving to watch videos and view pictures of crowds of people indulging in revelry in Manali and Mussoorie. The logic put forth by several of these travellers at a time like this is that they wish to go on a holiday before the third wave arrives. Do they not
realize that the arrival of the third wave will be facilitated by their actions? The whole point of avoiding travel while the pandemic rages is to break the chain of transmission, thereby putting off the possibility of more outbreaks of the disease. In their bid to enjoy themselves for a few days, these people are putting the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands, at risk.

Sharmin Hossain,

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