This refers to your cover story on shifts in the job market triggered by the Covid pandemic (Now Hiring Mr And Ms Versatility, November 9). The pandemic is far from being a bygone phenomenon and the deadly virus’s behaviour in future remains uncertain due to non-availability of a vaccine or a sure-shot treatment. This has upset the entire world, including the job market. Employers have been forced to reduce their workforce by reorganising work across departments, adopting new strategies like work-from-home and saying goodbye to many employees. The contingent workers—temporary, contractual, and outsourced—were among the first to be sacked. However, Gartner Inc, a leading research and advisory company, says companies will also recruit more such people to maintain flexibility in workforce management and share talent across departments as also across firms. Its research shows that 32 per cent of organisations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure. Recruiters have always been going for the best among jobseekers. Versatility may now be the new norm. Amidst the uncertainty about coronavirus, the only certainty is that things will never be the same even after the virus becomes history.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
This refers to your cover story on air pollution (‘I Can’t Breathe’, November 2). As a resident of Delhi, I have been watching a blame game going on in Delhi instead of concrete measures being taken to fight the problem of pollution. The Delhi government always blames the Punjab and Haryana governments for stubble burning, calling it the main cause of pollution in the national capital. Both the neighbouring states deny it and blame the Delhi government for not solving its own problem. Whatever may be the reason, the residents of Delhi are the worst sufferers, and the state government has done nothing besides taking some ad hoc measures such as odd-even schemes and banning generators. A large number of trees were cut down in the city in the past, and construction activities and brick kiln units continue to operate without any restrictions. Recently, the Delhi government came up with an advertisement asking drivers to “stop the engine when the light turns red”. I do not know how much this measure will reduce pollution, but the advertisement will definitely cost the exchequer a lot. Pollution and COVID-19 make a deadly combination, and both are expected to peak in November. Many Covid deaths in India are due to health complications caused by pollution.
D.B. Madan, New Delhi
Your cover story has highlighted the manner in which air pollution kills millions of people every year. It is high time we controlled air pollution by checking emissions from vehicular traffic, and the burning of coal, biomass, oil and gas. The government should think of banning coal-fired power plants and shutting down coal mines. Cities like Delhi should compulsorily introduce electricity-run public transport and encourage people to use eco-friendly vehicles such as battery-run two-wheelers by providing sufficient subsidies. All state governments should be instructed to enforce stringent standards as per WHO guidelines to control air pollution and violators should be punished.
K.V. Vaidyanathan, Ahmedabad
This refers to your interview with Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar (‘India Will Be Cleaner, Cleaner And Cleaner Year After Year’, November 2).
We have come to a stage when singing “sujalaam, suphalaam, malayaja sheetalaam...” has become a farce, as we have horribly polluted water, air and land, turning them into killers of living beings. So much so that according to studies by the World Bank and others, fossil fuels are medically costing India a fraction of its GDP each year and reducing the life expectancy of the citizens. It is clear that India must urgently switch to thermal-efficient super-critical coal plants, bio-fuels, solar panels and electric vehicles, and individuals must opt for vehicle-pooling, cycling and walking.
C.V. Krishna Manoj, Hyderabad
This refers to your column on the search for a Covid vaccine (A Dose of Sanity, November 9). It is good that discussions about proper planning, distribution and pricing of the vaccine are taking place in various forums. Almost all the concerned agencies, government bodies and non-government organisations all over the world are taking note of this and working hard for a robust solution.
Preparing the public by spreading awareness and seeking their cooperation and patience, so that they wait for their turn to get the vaccine, is equally important. It is expected that vaccinating the entire population of the world may take about a year. It is important in view of what the public have suffered for almost a year, which has tried their patience.
If the rich and powerful use the power of money to jump the queue, then the poor and underprivileged too may end up resorting to the power of the mob, leading to chaos.
S.P. Ashta, New Delhi
This refers to your story on IPL (Into Premium Content, November 9). No doubt a lot goes on behind the scenes to arrive at the core of any IPL team and it is not only restricted to intense battles at the auction tables. IPL is not called the world’s best T20 league for nothing—it showcases highly competitive cricket and is also a factory preparing young talent for the Indian national team. There is no dearth of young players who have the potential to play for India in the future. But the crux of the matter is that they need to have good heads on their shoulders and not get carried away by sudden fame and money, because international cricket demands dedication, perseverance and patience.
Bal Govind, Noida
This refers to A Virus They Won’t Cover (October 26). Even as the Covid pandemic rages, medical insurance providers continue to live up to their reputation of searching for reasons not to reimburse bills. This is cruelty towards hapless patients seeking treatment for COVID-19, especially those who approach private hospitals that have turned the pandemic into the proverbial goose that lays golden eggs, by charging over-the-roof fees for hospitalisation, PPE etc.
George Jacob, Kochi
This refers to your Poliglot item on Tejashwi Prasad Yadav’s election campaign in Bihar (Play to the Crowd, November 9). The way Laloo Prasad’s son is pulling huge crowds, also by promising 10 lakh government jobs, is giving Nitish Kumar sleepless nights. The incumbent CM is asking people to compare his 15-year reign with Laloo’s 15 years in power before him, but it is unlikely to make waves as a large section of voters—the young people of Bihar—have only seen Nitish, not Laloo, in power.
Madan D, On E-Mail