LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (01/03/2021)

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Parents Must Stop Students From Riding Bikes

Noting that many students ride the two-wheeler rashly and recklessly, it is learnt that the State Education Department has banned school students from riding two-wheelers to the institution. The Directorate of Education (DoE) has reportedly written to the heads of the institutions to ensure that no students ride two-wheelers to school. The State Road Safety Council has also raised concern over reckless riding by school students. This is a step in the right direction as school children are seen riding mostly gearless two-wheelers. For gearless vehicles less than 50cc, the minimum age required to get a licence is 16 years in India according to MV Act. However, nobody cares about the engine capacity of the vehicles. Those under 16 years of age with a driving licence could be riding a two-wheeler of much higher engine capacity. In order to hoodwink the school authorities, there is every possibility that the students could be parking the vehicle away from the school premises, and walk to the school. Hence the onus of not allowing their children to ride to school on a two-wheeler lies solely on the parents. This matter needs to be discussed threadbare at the PTA meeting of the respective school. If need be, the school authorities could even take an undertaking from the parents that their ward will not be allowed to ride to school on a two-wheeler. 

ADELMO FERNANDES, VASCO

Developing A Perfect Vaccine 

In retrospect, was fast-forwarding of vaccine development justified? If answered either way, yes and no, very pertinent lessons for the future development of vaccines can be learnt. Firstly, if for a specific virus, is it possible to develop a 100% efficacious vaccine? The answer is again both yes and no. For a particular category of recipients, it could be yes, especially those who are young and without co-morbidities, but if across all categories, the answer would be no. Then again, each vaccine was developed for a certain virus only and variants appeared thereafter which was not anticipated. Hence in future could there be a pan-specific vaccine that could work across all variants. Probably, not, as mutants may be calibrated into those that have near co-relations and those that have far disparities. Again here, the size of the genome sequencing of the virus my add to the difficulty in developing vaccines that can be effective across all variants, because, the bigger the virus sequence, the tougher it would be to prepare a vaccine that would be effective across all variants. However, again looking back it seems that the major number of vaccines was justified in being fast-tracked as it has definitely had very quantitative percentages of efficacy and protection which as emergency measures have been successful in saving precious lives. So, would a perfect vaccine be ever developed? Highly improbable. At the most a varied sets of vaccines calibrated to confront various types of co-morbidities could be developed in order to tackle virus infections of a wide range of variants.

Elvidio Miranda, Panaji

Cooking Gas Is Much Dearer

Now cooking gas is dearer by Rs 25 a cylinder! Even as the common man is learning to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic hardships, the Modi sarkar has further complicated the family budgets already strained by loss of livelihoods. With the upward trend in petrol and diesel prices leading to a cascading effect on end consumer price of various daily use products, the fuel price rise and increased LPG cylinder prices are together threatening to impact the kitchenomics of many households. With shoe-string budgets that has found favour with many middle-class families now, managing a household has essentially depended on the prices of essential commodities which, when tampered with, makes it difficult for an average citizen to keep the home fires burning. As it is, the economy’s deepening travails has left the common man clueless about his future. Finding himself out of his depth in the present scenario, his struggle to keep himself afloat lays bare the saga of the insensitiveness of the government towards his plight. It is a widely recognized fact that increased fuel prices will hinder economic growth. The overall price rise that follows an increase in fuel-prices will effectively ensure that people will find it hard to make both ends meet. As has been opined, at a time when people’s earnings are diminished due to the pandemic situation, the government should have explored means to stimulate their consumption. But is it the urgency shown for tiding over the economic crisis which has triggered such desperate moves by the government to replenish its depleted coffers! Although one would like to concur with the accusations that the Centre is profiteering off people’s misery and suffering, they cannot but be brushed aside as the customary politics being playing over the issue by the Opposition. Nevertheless, the Union Finance Minister’s ‘sincerity’ in asserting that the issue of spiraling prices of fuel is a ‘Divine Predicament’ and that the Centre and state governments together will have to work out a mechanism to bring retail rates to reasonable levels; and yet the manner in which she has remained non-committal on cutting taxes to give relief to consumers.

PACHU MENON, MARGAO