LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (30/12/2020)

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Ringing Out The Old

As we prepare to usher in the New Year 2021, there is a feeling of uncertainty as we keep wondering what is in store for us in the year ahead. Will it be different from the present year or will it be a mixed bag of sadness, misfortune, hope and joy? The year 2020 has been a disastrous one, unprecedented in living memory. It has taught us to live with the new normal in a world turned upside down by the killer coronavirus. Will 2021 also turn out to be the same or will we be witnessing a new springtime of hope and joy in our badly-battered world? The possibilities are numerous. At the end of every year, it is customary to ring out the old and ring in the new by making and burning an effigy of the old man, meant to symbolise the unwanted baggage of troubles, misfortunes and sinfulness we have carried during the year. Let us hope we will also be able to include COVID-19 in this year’s unwanted baggage of misfortunes, to eliminate it once and for all, so that we all awaken to a happy and prosperous new year and a return to the normal way of life, free of the hassles and burden of face masks, social distancing, sanitising, frequent hand washing, the scourge of COVID-19 and its mutating strains – once again in harmony with nature.

A F NAZARETH, ALTO PORVORIM  

COVID-19: Need For Careful Decisions

The detection of the new strain of coronavirus in India, in a way, while compounding the already existing fear, has again signalled that people are still not out of the woods. As per the reports published recently, Goa has the second highest COVID-19 positivity rate, next only to Kerala. Positivity rate is the number of confirmed COVID cases per 100 tests. Under such a grim situation, the parents of students of Std X and Std XII seriously wonder why without any logical explanation the school authorities are hell-bent on holding physical 20 marks examinations in January. The exams that are scheduled by the schools in January must be held online only, as this is the best way to safeguard the students’ lives as well as that of their families. The practicals must be held in March, as the Goa Board has decided to hold the final examination in April-May for both classes, Std X and Std XII. Considering the present grave situation, the Human Resource Development Ministry at the Centre has also declared that no examination must be held for Class X and Class XII until the end of February. As the vaccine has already given hope, we must be extra cautious for a little more time and do everything within our boundaries to make sure we do not snatch someone’s hopes, dreams and life due to our hasty and narrow-minded decisions.

AGNELO PIRES, PANAJI

On Elections In COVID Times

Just as much as the pandemic has failed to dampen the spirits of party revellers, leaders across the political spectrum in the country have been finding this period the best ever to consolidate their positions of power. The necessity to adhere to safety norms notwithstanding, the urgency with which elections have been conducted in some states does not indicate so otherwise. Even elections to the local bodies have elicited a good response from political parties. The stupendous success of the Zilla Panchayat polls, conducted amidst COVID fears in Goa, has prompted some of the parties to also contest the ensuing municipal polls along party lines in the state. The election of 21-year-old Arya Rajendran as the youngest mayor of Thiruvananthapuram Corporation is an indication of the fervour with which the elections to local bodies in Kerala were held. The heavy voter turnout recorded is suggestive of the high level of political awareness among locals there which allows the dominant parties in the state to expect a sizeable voter attendance for any election. And Kerala is one state which insists on a strict compliance of the pandemic-related guidelines! If roisterers are to be blamed for flouting the safety recommendations during the pandemic times, the argument that ‘on account of the coronavirus scare life cannot come to a standstill’ has been ably exploited by the political class to further their cause in these trying times. Protests against the Centre’s three contentious agricultural laws entered day 34 on Tuesday with multitudes of agitating farmers camping at various borders of the national capital, demanding that the government repeal these ‘draconian’ laws. While it is a matter of life and livelihood for the protesting farmers, it is quite obvious that the Opposition parties see the farmers’ stir as nothing but an ‘issue’ to unsettle the government. It would, of course, be foolhardy to expect any considerations for social distancing being given a second thought to by the demonstrating farmers, or those ‘leaders’ who visit the sites to express solidarity with them. With Delhi continuing to report a record number of COVID cases with every passing day, how prudent is it to have protestors in such large numbers, blatantly ignoring all safety guidelines prescribed, congregating at its borders! It does appear that just as much as the people, politicians too are impetuous when faced with long inactive periods. 

PACHU MENON, MARGAO