This refers to your cover story Choked (July 12). What the bereaved families went through—their struggles and helplessness, and the apathy of the government—brings a lump to our throats. While some survived (Candle in the Wind by Narayani Basu) more due to providence than anything else, others were not so lucky (With a Gasp, They Left Us). People dying due to lack of medical supplies and equipment is nothing short of murder on the part of the powers that be. That the judiciary had to time and again chastise the government tells its own story. Your exhaustive coverage not only helps us relive those ‘deathly’ moments, but also takes stock of the situation at a time of lull, before the pandemic storm again strikes us, as predicted. It is ironic that in a welfare state like ours, human life is taken for granted. Even in a health emergency of this unprecedented magnitude, political parties engage in a blame game and everybody tries to pass the buck. After all, nobody wants their carefully crafted image to be dented and their vote banks to be eroded. After two waves of the deadly pandemic, the question remains: have the rulers become wiser with experience or will they have a battery of excuses ready when death stalks the citizenry again?
Vijai Pant, On E-Mail
This refers to Candle in the Wind by Narayani Basu. It’s simply too early in the day to talk about a third wave of Covid-19 in India. The second one is only just about waning, after numerous candles were snuffed out by the typhoon that the pandemic verily turned out to be in India, where many couldn’t even get respect in death and had to be disposed off without proper last rites. Death overwhelmed a ‘system’ that simply wasn’t there. Has India learnt sufficient lessons from the nightmarish second wave for equipping itself to take on the third? The answer is disappointing.
George Jacob, Kochi
This refers to Hang Your Head in Shame, India; We Failed Stan Swamy (From the Editor, July 19) by Ruben Banerjee. The inhumane trauma undergone by Jesuit priest Stan Swamy is most unfortunate and very chilling. It is unbecoming of any sensible system that he should have been ill-treated the way he was and that too at the age of 84. The judiciary, which symbolises hope, sadly failed to rise to the occasion and promptly save him from torment and the clutches of death. Stan Swamy’s pilgrimage on earth may have ended, but he will live in our hearts forever. A soldier of solidarity, he championed the cause of a more humanitarian society with bravery and courage. He stood for simplicity and empowerment of the exploited, while always being a friend of the poor and downtrodden. As he died in custody, we can say he sacrificed his life in the battle against injustice. He will be missed more particularly by our less fortunate brethren whom he tirelessly served all his life with passion and care. His pending bail application died a natural death, but he is finally free to now serve in the kingdom of God.
Aires Rodrigues, Ribandar (Goa)
This refers to your story The Sangh in Poll Gear (July 12). Those who formed the RSS in 1925 were great visionaries who cherished the dream of establishing far-right supremacy in India based on Hindu cultural ethos. Their successors in the organisation have believed in planning for the long term at both macro and micro levels, and their consistent efforts eventually ensured that all private, public and constitutional institutions in the country are compliant towards that end. The RSS is aware that the grandeur of its centenary celebrations in 2025 depends on the BJP’s success in the assembly elections next year, mainly in Uttar Pradesh, and in the 2024 general elections. The BJP’s bitter experience in recent assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal has compelled the RSS to come out openly in its support on the election arena, by mobilising all its affiliates and trained cadre in the battle for votes.
M.N. Bhartiya, Alto-Porvorim (Goa)
This refers to your story on the Opposition (Fixing a Big Tent, July 12). The country’s GDP has shrunk and the uncontrolled second wave of the pandemic has taken a huge toll of lives. Most workers are yet to recover from pandemic-induced loss of employment. Prices of petrol, diesel and domestic gas have gone through the roof. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Opposition is keen to form a grand alliance to unseat the Narendra Modi government in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. But a grand alliance of political parties with catchy names like National Front, United Front or Federal Front has little chance of overtaking the BJP if it is bereft of a common ideology or a charismatic leader to lead it. When the National Front was formed in 1989 under the leadership of N.T. Rama Rao, it lasted only until the TDP broke into two. And when Mamata Banerjee organised a massive political rally of the Federal Front in 2019, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul boycotted it. The less said the better about the recent meeting organised at Sharad Pawar’s residence. If the third front lacks unity and cohesion, then it will just remain a bundle of contradictions. More importantly, a grand alliance of parties minus the Congress, which is India’s major opposition party, will only split the non-BJP votes and enable the Modi juggernaut to majestically roll into Delhi again.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
This refers to your story on the LoC ceasefire (Tightest Circle of Peace, July 12). The unprecedented drone attack at the air force base in Jammu, with the initial probe prima facie pointing fingers at the Lashkar-e-Toiba’s involvement, is a clear indication that ceasefire violations continue unabated at the LoC. Pakistan and China are known to break promises at will. Immediately bringing such attacks to the notice of UN is a step in the right direction, but Pakistan must also be taught a lesson by showing that it cannot make India bow to its pressures. And Pakistan must stop accusing India of hiding the truth and lying to international bodies every time stringent steps are taken to counter terrorism on Indian soil.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
This refers to the column by Pragya Akhilesh (Toilet View of the Lockdown, July 5). The column highlights glaring anomalies in what is being said and the actual execution at the ground level. We, the public, should be more proactive and stop being passive spectators who think that our job is finished once we cast our votes.
Rangarajan T.S., Bangalore
The tribute to Milkha Singh (Milkha Singh Diary, July 5) by Olympian Gurbachan Singh Randhawa was an interesting read. It’s heartbreaking to note that every Indian sport lover’s ‘Dil ka Ratna’ has not been crowned with the Bharat Ratna yet. Milkha was right when he turned down the Arjuna Award in 2001, saying the honour was not of the “stature of the services he rendered to the nation”. On his last lap of life, his wife Nirmal Kaur, a former India volleyball captain, lost her battle with the coronavirus at the same Mohali hospital where the legendary runner breathed his last. But Milkha was always grateful for whatever he achieved, rather than being sullen over what he missed. May his soul rest in peace. He always was and will be an inspiration for generations to come.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad