Stress on Grammar in sign language  

Editor,

The recent inclusion of sign language and the recognition of the deaf community and other disabled individuals in the National Education Policy, 2020 is definitely a welcome move. This move has included the perpetually polarized disability sector into the mainstream discourse. However, I would also like to point out that not only sign language standardization among other things should be done. There should also be tremendous thrust to improve the written English Language skills of the deaf community.

Sign Language is a form of language where hand gestures and facial expressions are used and not proper attention is paid to English grammar. There is no proper English language structure in sign language commonly found and used in everyday spoken and written English language. Therefore, a deaf person with sign language as his first language fails to grasp the essential grammar skills employed in the written and spoken English language.

This becomes cumbersome to them and acts as obstacles toward pursuing higher studies and also in applying for jobs in the government and non-government sectors. Therefore, it is my earnest hope that the government would do something to remedy this.

Yours etc.,

Lalboi Paite,

Masters in Social Work,

Assam Don Bosco University.

Containment zones and residents’ plight

Editor,

If only we were rich and could afford t stay at home would things be better? With the onslaught of Covid-19 the authorities have started demarcating areas as containment zones. But the gravity of the hardships faced by people within the containment zones are difficult to assess unless we put ourselves in their shoes. Many feel they have been treated inhumanely and neglected when it came to the supply of food items even while movement has been totally restricted. Imagine the plight of residents who are not allowed to go out to buy their day-to-day essential food-items for nearly a week at a stretch?

While agreeing that in the current pandemic, all interventions are needed to prevent people-to-people contact in order to break the chain of transmission/infection to the maximum level. However, one’s inner feeling also says that the containment zone restriction can be imposed only after making elaborate “arrangements” for procuring essential commodities. The authorities cannot be heartless and overlook the current plight of the people who have lost their sources of income or exhausted their bank balance.  Hence declaring an area as a containment zone without pragmatically considering the situation is totally unjustified.

Also, there is a huge chunk of people who have suffered tremendous “mental anxiety” due to long periods of lockdown coupled with loss of livelihood. Very importantly, each citizen in the containment zone must have better “immunity” to fight the virus. But how on earth can we expect the people to combat the virulent coronavirus with their depressed minds and malnourished bodies!

I also appeal to the concerned authorities to kindly opt for the “micro containment zone” formula as in Pune, Mumbai, and New Delhi. This will drastically reduce the responsibility of the government authorities and the police forces. We should salute the volunteers who are helping the residents in the containment zones in procuring the essential items. They ought to be honored with certificates for their selfless service.

Yours etc.,

Salil Gewali,

Shillong

Race for Covid vaccine

Editor,

The  world  has  descended  into  fear  and   uncertainty   since  the  outbreak  of  COVID-19.  Many  drug  companies  across  the  world  have  been  in  a  race  to  find    an  effective  vaccine  against  COVID-19    for  a   while.  According  to  the  WHO,  there  are  approximately  160  coronavirus  vaccines  around  the  world  that  are  in  various  stages  of  development.  According  to  scientists  at  Oxford,  the  vaccine  developed  in  collaboration  with  Astra  Zeneca  increases  levels  of  both  protective  neutralising   antibodies  and  immune  T-cells  that  target  the  virus.  As  for  India,  the  initial  phase  of  the  clinical  trials  for  indigenously  developed  Covaxin  have  begun  at  AIIMS,  Delhi.  The  results  of  Covaxin  trials  should  be  available  to  the  public  within  the  next  few  months.

 If  our  aim  is  to  make  India  COVID  free  at  the  earliest,  the  Centre  must  set  aside  a  sizeable  budget  for  a  mass  vaccination  programme  and  devise  plans  to  implement  it.  Even  though  the  vaccine  gets  necessary  approvals,  our  choice  must  not  be  restricted  to  it.  Beyond  availability,  we  should  go  by  effectiveness,  cost  calculations  and  the  abilities  to  produce  sufficient  quantities.  The   logistical   aspects   of   vaccine   distribution   must   be   worked   out.  Those   at   the   highest   risk   of   COVID-19  exposure  will  have  to  be  vaccinated  first.  Adequate  loads  will  need  to  be quickly  sent  to  hotspots  across  the  country.  Subsequently,  emerging  infection  areas  will  need  to  be  provided  with  sufficient  quantities.  An  army  of  healthcare  workers  must  be  recruited  and  trained    in  preparation  for  this  arduous  task.

It  is  difficult  to  predict  which  country  or  which  drug  company  will  win  the  race  for  a  vaccine  against  COVID-19.  Whoever   the  winner , India  must  ensure  access  to  the  vaccine  for  the  majority  of  its  population  when  it  is  developed.  Suppose  it  is the  Oxford-Astra  Zeneca  vaccine  that  is  ready  for  mass distribution  first.  Pune-based   Serum  Institute  of  India  has  a  licence  to  produce  the  vaccine  and  its  availability  may  not  be  a  problem.  But  suppose  it  is    some  other  drug  company’s  vaccine  that  is  ready  for  mass  distribution  first,  then  what  would  happen ?  In that case multilateral  cooperation  is  the  solution. India  and  other  low-and  middle-income  countries (LMICs)   must  gain  access  to  the  vaccine  by  cooperation.  Given  that  India  is  a  large  LMIC  with  the  capacity  to  mass    manufacture   vaccines,  it   could  play  a  vital  role  in this. India   plans   to join the  WHO-Gavi   alliance  platform, Covax.  It  negotiates  with  companies  to  secure  supply  using  money  from   member  countries  and  distributes  the  vaccine  among  member  countries.  Covax  has  a  deal  with  Astra  Zeneca,   which  is  developing  the  Oxford  University  vaccine.  But  only  20%  of  the  population  will  get  the  vaccines.  The  drug  companies  would  give  priority  to  rich  countries  such  as  the  US,  UK,  France,  Germany,  Italy  and  the  Netherlands.  They  would  sell  vaccine  doses  to  Covax  after  fulfilling  the  deals  reached  with  such  countries.  India  must  increase  its  manufacturing  capacities  to  increase  production  and  secure  global  access.  Through  collective  bargains  LMICs  could  obtain  licences.

Yours  etc.,

Venu GS,

Via  email

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