Letters to the editor: World Population Day, Covid-19 third wave
Sir — Yesterday was World Population Day. Within the next decade, India will be the world’s most populous country, overtaking China. India will then be blessed with a young population — half of India’s population is already under 29 years of age — which can drive economic growth and social progress.
There are many theories when it comes to population growth. Some of them are true, some false. But what can be said for certain is that for sustainable development, we should aim for national well-being, not endless growth. Minimizing excess growth in human population is a small, but essential, part of the solution. The Indian youth must not only be healthy, knowledgeable and skilled but also be provided with rights and choices to develop their fullest potential, including sexual and reproductive health and rights. Knowing how to prevent unintended pregnancies or giving birth at a hospital or with the help of a skilled birth attendant is key in the battle against overpopulation. More important, equal opportunities have to be provided to the youth. For instance, it is crucial that adolescent girls should have access to the same level of education, skills and opportunities for employment as their male counterparts. Only then can India achieve true development and modernization.
Sir — A report released by the State Bank of India predicts that the third wave of coronavirus infections in India. There are suspicions that it could be as intense as the second wave, and last around three months. But India should not be caught unawares again. The impact of the possible third wave can be minimized by prioritizing two things — improving the health infrastructure, including in rural pockets, and vaccinating as many people as possible from all age groups.
Vaccines are the most potent tool against the virus right now. Even though no concrete data are available on the level of protection offered by the various vaccines against the newer mutant strains, all wisdom points to carrying out the inoculation of the population as swiftly as possible. Present trends indicate that India does not have the capacity to produce vaccines fast enough to vaccinate the entire population within the next few months. Therefore, scaling up vaccine production will be key to fighting the third wave. Besides vaccination, we should also aim to enhance the surveillance systems with regard to identification of cases by increasing the level of testing and enforcing stricter isolation mechanisms.
Moreover, India also needs to institutionalize the process of ensuring strict adherence to the three ‘social vaccines’ — wearing masks, constant hand-washing with soap, and physical distancing. All of these must be continued relentlessly till our country achieves vaccination coverage of more than 80 percent. People must not forget the lessons taught by the second wave of the pandemic. That would disrupt lives and livelihood further.
Sir — A male tiger at the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh is rewriting the laws of nature by taking care of its cubs, who lost their mother recently. While the tiger can change its stripes, humans clearly cannot. Reports show that 173 additional hours of childcare fell on women last year compared to just 59 hours for men. Since lockdowns ensured many more fathers were earning their daily bread — a popular excuse when it comes to shirking childcare responsibilities — from home, why could they not keep an eye on the young ones?