This refers to your cover story on India’s Covid vaccination programme The Wandering Needle (June 7). As vaccination is the key means to tackle the country’s worst health crisis in a century, this government’s vaccination policy speaks volumes of its lack of vision. Faced with a massive shortage of vaccines, the ruling party and its supporters first ridiculed Rahul Gandhi’s suggestion to import the doses and accused him of being an agent of foreign companies. And then the government ordered the import of the Sputnik vaccine from Russia. Moreover, when the jabs failed to do their job, first a six-week gap was recommended between two shots, but when the government failed to supply enough doses, the gap was extended to 12 weeks. Even opening vaccination to everyone above 18 years of age was a populist measure that was announced without taking supplies and infrastructure ino account. Little wonder, then, with a minuscule section of the population having got both shots, more and more people are dying while the government plays games with data.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
There is a surfeit of vaccine-related information in metropolitan cities, while the goings-on in places away from the media glare remain unreported. Kudos to the Outlook team for bringing back stories of the unsung heroes who carry vaccine boxes to far-flung, inaccessible areas. At times, the persuasion undertaken by the relatively unknown vaccination teams, leading by example, to convince people to take the jab also reveals their commitment to the cause. The way the boxes are ferried using multiple means of transportation gives an indication of the enormity of the task. The story was an engrossing read, showing grit, determination and unflinching devotion towards humanity at a time when these qualities are most needed.
Vijai Pant, On E-Mail
With no thought given to the anticipated second wave of the pandemic, we played the good samaritan by taking the lead in supplying vaccines to the world under our ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative. Now the ‘pharmacy of the world’ is looking at an ever-widening gap between supply and demand of Covid vaccines. In a panic mode, the government has opened vaccination for everyone above 18, but, like scoring a self-goal, has left the states to fend for themselves. Consequently, there is utter confusion with regard to getting the jabs. The Centre has virtually abdicated its responsibility in the matter, with curfews and lockdowns giving the beleaguered people some respite from the pandemic.
Vipul Pandey, Nainital
The vaccination programme of the central government for the 18-44 group is defective. The Centre should have procured the vaccines from manufacturers and delivered to the state governments. The new policy has made state governments compete with each others for supply of vaccines. Moreover, foreign suppliers like Moderna and Pfizer have declined to deal with the state governments. Many states governments have shut down vaccination centres for the 18-44 group. India has already missed an opportunity of vaccinating a large number of people. The central government says 2 billion doses will be available by December, but that is a mere projection. Until then, vaccine shortage is a certainty. Also, by December, the third wave of the pandemic would have hit us, causing more damage than the second one.
D.B. Madan, New Delhi
This refers to your special issue on Satyajit Ray (The ‘Normal’ Lens, May 31). It was an impressive effort to pay a fitting tribute to the legendary icon of Indian cinema on his 100th birth anniversary. His unique style left an indelible imprint on the minds of movie-goers not just in India, but also the world over. In fact, he was one of the pioneers who made significant departures from traditional formula-based commercial cinema and evolved a new style of realistic film-making. A rare combination of the traditional spirit and the modern mind remained the hallmark of his films. Ray’s films set him apart from others who went beyond the box office. Akira Kurosawa summed up the true character of the genius when he said: “Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon.”
Vijay Singh Adhikari, Nainital
This refers to your Poliglot item The Peeculiar Corona Ark (June 7). Surely, households battling coronavirus in the city of Bhopal have not bought into the “magical remedy’ championed by their honourable MP. In a nutshell, this is the tragedy of India where science, in order to march ahead, also has to fight the peddling of misinformation on ‘cures for all afflictions’. If the country has to be free from disease, poverty and superstition, then the only way is promotion of science. We are unfortunately mixing up anecdotal remedies, fables and myths, and passing it off as science. India should invest more in strengthening its base of science and technology.
H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore
This refers to your Poliglot item Bye Bye Big Boss (May 31). Kamal Haasan is a self-made intellectual. He speaks Tamil in a manner that is hard to follow. Many of his films are difficult to understand at first viewing. He is wont to interfere in the director’s domain when he plays the role of a hero. As Kamal continued in the same vein in politics too, it is not surprising that many top functionaries of his party have walked out on him citing lack of democracy in the party and its poor showing in the assembly election. Leaders deserting fledgling parties, however, is not an uncommon phenomenon. They are just opportunists looking for a shortcut to becoming MLAs. The biggest blunder Kamal made was to rely more on cash-rich sponsors than on his adoring fans. It is not the end of the road, though, for a talented politician like him. Rome was not built in a day. He must pursue politics, not as part-time vocation, but as full-time preoccupation, and soldier on.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
Your story Cuisine Egalite (June 7) focuses on a special problem faced by the elderly living alone, and talks of an empathetic solution. The breaking up of the joint family system, with offspring pursuing careers at far-off places away from their parents, has created a need for regular supply of well-cooked food for the nourishment and contentment of senior citizens living alone or with their spouses in urban areas where every home is an island in a concrete jungle. Shopping and cooking are off their routine for lack of mobility and energy. A few lucky ones get good domestic help on a part-time basis. The oily, spicy, high-calorie food home-delivered by restaurants cannot be consumed regularly and is not good for digestion. Home chefs, who cook hygienically and supply wholesome food in personalised tiffin style, fill up this vacuum. The assurance that their food is blended with the spice of love becomes the best tonic in old age.
M.N. Bhartiya, Alto-Porvorim (Goa)