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This refers to your cover story Yalla Bye, Al-Hindi (May 25). COVID-19 has put an end to the Gulf dream of Malayalis. God’s own country now stares at an unprecedented crisis that does not have so much to do with the immediate challenge posed by the pandemic (in which Kerala is showing the way to others) as with remittances drying up, joblessness rising and aspirations crashing down. Besides the fear of contracting the disease, plummeting oil prices are making the oil-based economy of the Gulf hurtle towards depression, ringing alarm bells in Kerala too. Consequently, the Indian diaspora, consisting of a significant number of Malayalis, will no longer be able to strike gold there.
Kamna Chhabra, Gurgaon
In the past few years, as leaders respond to political and economic pressures back home, globalisation has become increasingly unwelcome in many places. The trend, initiated by powerhouses like the US and UK, gradually found more takers. Thus, globalisation was already on the wane when the pandemic struck. With supply chains disrupted, the world is now wary of putting all its eggs in China’s basket. Local is the new buzzword and self-dependency the mantra of success. A transformational change in nations’ economies will be witnessed, which is bound to affect the post-COVID-19 world order.
Vijai Pant, On E-Mail
Life Goes On Letter a University of Kansas student sent to her aunt after the height of the Spanish flu, the deadliest pandemic in modern history
This refers to Nitin Gadkari’s interview (‘The world is wary of China. It’s good for our country.’, May 25). While it’s good to make the most of the economic opportunity presented by the pandemic, its feasibility is another story altogether. Ease of doing business in India is not what it should be even though Modi has marketed India globally. With Indian systems wrapped in red tape, a lot remains to be done. China is building up pressure on Indian borders with the help of Pakistan and would like to engage India in non-productive pursuits. There are many vested interests ready to put spikes in the wheel if not tackled shrewdly. India will have to beat China in its own game, which may require nerves of steel and intentions of a determined nation ready to conquer the new world order.
Ashok Goswami, Mumbai
With the invisible enemy pitted against a visible one, various conspiracy theories have surfaced, such as the virus originating from Chinese laboratories in Wuhan or that it was manufactured as a biological weapon. People are even blaming 5G technology! However, there is no evidence for these contentions, which just give an illusory security and a straw man to blame. Perhaps, we will never know the truth. But we must realise that the enemy lies ingrained in our imagination—it is making inroads through disinformation and propaganda that politicians espouse for political mileage. One of the biggest threats to our mental health during the pandemic is the blame game and conspiracy theories. It would be relevant here to remember American President Franklin D Roosevelt’s words in response to the Great Depression: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyses needed efforts to convert retreat into advances.”
Vijay Singh Adhikari, Nainital
This refers to your story on the judiciary Higher Resolution (May 11). Lengthy oral statements and submissions waste the valuable time of courts, but judges do not cut short such practices. In any case, all the steps can be confined to concise and complete submissions in writing with strict instructions to not seek amendments in their submissions, Anything that cannot be produced in writing is probably absurd and irrelevant. Courts are not platforms for demonstrating oratory and debating skills. Alas, nobody thinks of such reforms and the poor litigant seeking justice suffers. Resourceful litigants use the legal system to harass their opponents and competitors and abuse it to delay payment of public revenues and taxes.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
This refers to your cover story Things That Got Covided (May 18). Almost two months after the lockdown was declared, migrant labourers are still facing a tough time. Now, some states are amending, or even suspending, most labour laws to enable industries to function without constraints. But the decision to allow factories to compel labourers to work for 12 hours instead of the present eight hours, a norm that was fixed by the International Labour Organisation, is a matter of concern. Though industries need some succour from the government, there cannot be any relaxation as far as the welfare of labourers is concerned. Also, it is the duty of employers to look after the wellbeing of employees and provide them shelter, food and clothes, come rain or sunshine. Migrant labourers deserve much more than being left on the streets to fend for themselves.
C.K. Subramaniam, Navi Mumbai
In the wake of the pandemic, the government is desperate for funds. International crude prices have fallen drastically, but our petrol and diesel prices have remained the same, thanks to additional cesses. Liquor prices too have been nearly doubled. In view of the extremely precarious situation, it is an absolute necessity for the government to cast away its blinkers and legalise betting. As it is, the matka racket flourishes with the connivance of the police. The misguided stance on ethics and moral principles, which in any case are not a virtue of our political system, should be jettisoned in light of the corona calamity. Lotteries should be started and even states should be allowed to go for such schemes.
Shanmugam Mudaliar, Pune