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This refers to the cover story Panic Corona (March 16). Humanity has encountered many natural and manmade disasters in the past such as earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, floods, hurricanes, fires etc and might face similar disasters in the future too. We are encountering deadly epidemics and pandemics once a year or every couple of years. Then there are the dangers of global warming compounded by air, water and noise pollution. And now, coronavirus. We are responsible for the spread of the virus. Our strange food habits and lifestyles are to blame. Rulers have divided this earth along borders and now we are divided again with the virus, with few willing to travel to another country.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
Global health experts have been saying for years that another pandemic with a speed and severity rivalling that of the 1918 Spanish flu was not a matter of if but when. Confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported on every continent except Antarctica. It is upending world economic growth, fracturing global supply chains, grounding thousands of flights and shutting down borders. Because this virus is so new, experts’ understanding of how it spreads is limited. China is where it began and it has more experience with the disease than any other country. There has also been a focus on basic hygiene, with campaigns to promote practices such as regular hand washing and self-quarantine on potential exposure. This is not the time to promote untested remedies like cow dung, urine etc. There is no cure for this viral infection except one’s strong immunity. India must cooperate with experts around the world to accelerate work on treatments and vaccines. That takes time.
H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore
“Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once,” wrote Shakespeare more than 400 years ago. Now, in 2020, the world is scared, full of cowards. In a world of more than seven billion humans, a little under 200,000 people are affected by coronavirus, with fewer than 8,000 deaths. In India, with over 130 crore souls, over 100 have been infected with three deaths at the time of writing this letter. But the world is going helter-skelter, the economy is in doldrums and the virus is infecting primetime news channels as well as the Outlook cover story.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
Outlook’s cover story on the threat and impact of the coronavirus pandemic was well-balanced. Greater than the loss of life or getting infected, coronavirus has certainly had a far greater negative impact on people’s wallets. The whole globe is reeling under fear and an economic slowdown is setting in. With millions of jobs at risk globally as well as high inflation, the consequence on human lives would be far greater than the virus itself. Information is power and sadly, despite being educated, many fall prey to social media posts that spread misinformation. These have to be restricted. Health, as this global pandemic shows us, is wealth, and it is time to make every effort to prevent the infection from spreading in public places and offices. Prevention is better than cure; so we must take all the precautions recommended by WHO.
Ramani S., Mumbai
The coronavirus outbreak has triggered an information explosion, making it tough for the masses to separate facts from myths. The central and state governments need to conduct an intensive awareness campaign to counter misinformation. People spreading canards about magic remedies or other methods to cure coronavirus should be officially exposed to public ridicule. At the individual level, it’s all about sticking to the basics: washing hands with an antiseptic handwash and maintaining safe distance from infected persons—in short, preferring the namaskar instead of the handshake.
P. Arihanth, Secunderabad
The outbreak of coronavirus in China shook the world due to its adverse impact on the global economy. Many Indians returning from abroad and suspected to have contracted the virus have been put under intensive medicare and strict observation. State governments are fighting the crisis by coming out with dos and don’ts to allay apprehensions. But fear still lurks in the minds of people due to lack of full-scale and effective preventive measures at the ground level. The COVID-19 outbreak is a stern warning to the central and state governments to ramp up the public healthcare system by going beyond providing medical treatment—information dissemination, community outreach, training, stockpiling medicines and protective equipment and spreading awareness through mass media to strictly adhere to habits like cleaning hands and avoid bodily touch while speaking with others. It is essential to build trust and confidence in these times.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
With people travelling all over the world, the scourge of COVID-19 has spread rapidly from Wuhan to Iran, S. Korea, Italy and beyond. A Chinese whistleblower doctor who had forewarned of the possible outbreak was threatened by the police not to spread the news. But when the ominous wake-up call finally came, Xi Jinping acted on a war footing. He built makeshift hospitals in an unbelievably record time. But there is no need to panic. The corona crisis should be turned into an opportunity to increase India’s testing facilities and upgrade disease-surveillance systems to be able to tackle even more virulent viruses in the future.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
This refers to Yes, You Are In Queue (March 23). SBI will pump public money to reimburse the money Yes Bank has looted from the public. On top of that, the government has the gumption to say people’s money in the bank is safe. It is like giving a hungry dog its own tail to eat. How long will the government patronise conmen and fool people? Such robbery has been happening since long. Unfortunately, Outlook does not express the truth boldly. I had developed a fondness for this magazine as my grandson studied in La Martiniere College for Boys, Lucknow, where Vinod Mehta was also a student. Alas, our weak media has transformed democracy to autocracy pacing towards anarchy.
Jagdishwar Bhartiya, Hyderabad
This refers to Onus Is On Women (March 9). Women have been at the forefront when it comes to defending the country. In 1857, Rani Lakshmibai broke the shackles of patriarchy and fought bravely to preserve and uphold the dignity of the kingdom of Jhansi. Despite making tall claims on gender equality, we fail miserably in most cases such as dearth of women in the judiciary, police, defence, jurisprudence etc. Let’s strive towards building a level playing field. The Supreme Court judgment bringing women on a par with their male counterparts in the army will definitely augur well and serve as a moral boost for women who aspire to join the military.
Vijay Adhikari, Nainital
This refers to the story on Prashant Kishor (To Be His Own Man, March 2). The government, whether in states or at the Centre, consists of politicians only out to make money, irrespective of the party they belong to. Then come contractors who take up infrastructure projects worth crores of rupees. There is no time-bound execution of projects and no accountability as costs keep escalating. Western economies have skilled professionals who ensure completion of contracts in a specified time with thorough transparency. Prashant Kishor is strongly advocating for these professionals by espousing lateral entry in crucial ministerial professions.
Rangarajan T.S., Bangalore
Plague Perils Letter from Petrarch lamenting the Black Death circa 1348