Letters

Letters to the editor dated Aug 12, 2020

| Updated on August 12, 2020

The Russian vaccine

President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that Russia has developed a coronavirus vaccine called Sputnik-V and is gearing up for mass production and immunisation has led to widespread speculation that he may have made it to lay claim to national glory as the first nation to make the much-needed breakthrough and project Russia as a scientific superpower.

A fast-track approach in medical science is not like the one in space exploration; obviously the former has far more unforeseen risks.

If the adenovirus-vectored Covid-19 vaccine has really “proven to be highly safe and efficacious” and offers “strong and sustainable immunity”, as claimed by Putin, it is the best thing to happen in this pandemic times. However, the claim begs the question as to how anyone could have conclusively known that the fast-track coronavirus vaccine was safe and efficacious before conducting the crucial third phase clinical trials involving several thousand participants from different demographics and backgrounds.

When it comes to the health of people, no country can afford to take chances and put national pride above safety. Clearly, the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow cut corners in developing Sputnik-V; it tested the vaccine candidate on just 138 volunteers — woefully insufficient by any standards.

G David Milton

Maruthancode, TN

Hindrances on highways

Apropos ‘How efficient are our roadways?’ (August 12), till the Railways has a dedicated freight corridor, most of the transportation will be through roadways. And that is why the findings of the NCAER survey should make the authorities sit up and take note, especially the hindrances to the supply chain.

One of the biggest issues is harassment of truckers by the police and RTO officials, who consider truckers as cash cows and look to milk them as much as possible. Also, traffic congestion on highways makes the whole trip unviable or costly for the truckers. Such bottlenecks will make India’s quest to become atmanirbhar all the more difficult.

Bal Govind

Noida

 

Boosting agriculture

This is with reference to ‘Making India a leader in agri innovation’ (August 12). Many problems facing rural India can be solved by motivating the youth to take up agriculture and allied activities. This cannot be done through subsidies and freebies but by encouraging the rural people to take up agriculture as a profession. The government should improve the existing agricultural universities and set up more and run them on the lines of IIMs.

Also, agriculture as a subject can be introduced at the school level to kindle children’s interest in this areas. Experts like Subhash Palekar, who promotes natural farming — that is, without using harmful pesticides — to increase yields, should be roped in to train not only farmers but also the youth in agricultural innovations.

Veena Shenoy

Thane

Environment clearance

This refers to the editorial ‘Climate concerns’ (August 12). The process of obtaining environment clearance (EC) is cumbersome and riddled with many anomalies. First, State Committees meant for ‘B’ category projects were dissolved and not reconstituted in a long time. At times, there are delays of more than six months in the absence of committees at the State level. Second, sometimes, additional requirements such as further monitoring of gases in atmosphere and resubmission of documents are sought even after anappraisal by expert committees and issuance of terms of reference.

Third, in numerous instances projects under ‘A’ category vested with the MoEF are abruptly referred to SEIAA (State Environment Impact Assessment Authority). This results in undue delay in getting the EC. The proposed notification seeks to cut time in obtaining the EC by relaxing the terms in the EIA — by compromising the environment, that is.

This is not the right strategy. The best way forward is to reduce bureaucratic inertia and award the EC in a time-bound manner.

Deepak Singhal

Chennai

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Send your letters by email to bleditor@thehindu.co.in or by post to ‘Letters to the Editor’, The Hindu Business Line, Kasturi Buildings, 859-860, Anna Salai, Chennai 600002.

Published on August 12, 2020

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