Letters to the editor dated August 18, 2020

| Updated on August 18, 2020

The reign of the dollar

Apropos ‘Domination of the dollar on the wane’ (August 18). The global monetary system has long been hostage to the dollar, allowing the US borrow at record lows to bankroll its economy and people. The US’ addiction to cheap dollars makes others vulnerable to market volatility. The dollar accounts for more than 80 per cent of all foreign exchange transactions, over half of all international trade invoices and two-thirds of central bank reserves. But on many counts, the US is no longer the bastion of international financial security it once was; its debt is larger than its GDP.

If the euro has been unsteady then the Chinese renminbi, a credible candidate for world currency, sadly lacks free and full convertibility and, more importantly, the depth, spread and transparency of the US stock market. And the much-pursued Special Drawing Rights is but a synthetic reserve asset with no free market for exchange. The greenback has no pretenders to its throne.

R Narayanan


New-age weddings

This refers to ‘Honey, let’s shrink the Big Fat wedding for now!”(August 18). India has a large number of distinct communities, each formed on the basis of the various religious beliefs and different wedding rituals. But there have been a lot of changes in weddings in the post-Covid era. High level of education and instances of love-based relations are already altering the existing society-based relations. It is, however, necessary that the tradtions and relationships be kept in mind and protected.

TR Anandan


Exam dates

This is with reference to ‘Apex Court rejects petition to put off NEET, JEE exams’ (August 18). The Supreme Court is right in refusing to put off the entrance exams. There were two petitions before the court — one filed by 11 students, seeking postponement, and the other opposing the same. The students who filed the former petition based their objections on the risk posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which the apex court countered saying that “further postponement may jeopardise the future of the students, causing them to lose a precious year” and that “life needs to go on”.

Other specious arguments such as “even Parliament and the courts had not been reopened”; “the floods in Bihar and the North-East”, which are an annual feature in India; and “the possibility of a vaccine being found soon, as indicated by the Prime Minister during his Independence Day speech” also did not find favour with the court. On his part, the Solicitor-General, appearing for the National Testing Agency, assured the court that the tests would be conducted with proper precautions. Pandemic or no pandemic, in the midst of life, we are surrounded by death. Risk, which is ubiquitous, cannot be eliminated but only managed.

V Jayaraman


Facebook politics

Wall Street Journal’s disclosure that Facebook inclined to the view that it was better to err on the side of commercial success, and refrained from taking a firm stand against hate posts uploaded by BJP-affiliated Internet users has implications for our democracy. As a commercial entity, there is nothing wrong in Facebook wanting to be successful. But it cannot be guided by the unethical proposition that the ends justify the means.

Facebook’s position that “punishing violations by politicians from Mr.Modi’s party will damage the company’s business prospects in India” borders on its collusion with the BJP. For any social media platform, any post intended to spread the poison of religious hatred should be wholly unacceptable. Online posts with the potential to incite hatred and violence in real-world situations must be anathema.

Facebook cannot redeem its reputation, now in tatters, merely by hiding behind freedom of expression or democratisation of discourse for the simple reason that these cannot be pursued at the expense of communal peace and harmony.

The WSJ’s expose that Facebook showed “favouritism” and provided “favourable treatment” to the BJP on election-related issues has taken some shine off the party’s electoral victories. As a first remedial step, representatives of Facebook can be summoned to appear before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology.

G David Milton

Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu

Published on August 18, 2020

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