Letters on May 7 Issue

Letters on May 7 Issue
Exemplary use of data on Covid mortality

I write to thank The India Forum and Dr. Murad Banaji for the painstaking analysis of Covid-19 incidence and mortality in India in 2020-21, (‘Estimating Covid Fatalities in India’, 7 May ). It is exemplary in its use of imperfect data to generate sound conclusions while not minimizing the width of the confidence intervals (or range) involved.

He correctly points to the variation in data quality across states and cities. I would like to mention an underlying element to this: the maintenance of accurate records is dependent on two factors: the first is 'state capacity', the strength of governmental institutions such birth and death registration etc. The second is 'state volition', the willingness to accept and record unpalatable findings.

Failures at both these levels have generated the understatement and concealment of the effects of Covid-19 laid bare in the article. I may add that I have discussed the history of disease statistics in India in an article last summer and base this letter on findings therein.

Sumit Guha, University of Texas at Austin
Few insights on ‘Hinduisation’ of Bengal

The article ‘Historical Roots of the Rise of Hindutva in Bengal’ (23 April) is too focussed on past history to throw any insight on the current situation. The author claims that Partition had a great impact on the Hinduisation of Bengal. The implication is that the present rise of the BJP in the state is connected to the past. If this is so, the author fails to explain how the Left was repeatedly elected from 1977 to 2011. How did Hinduisation face an interregnum and rise again? A failure to examine this question makes the linear connection between the history of Partition and the present rise of the BJP in Bengal, which the author draws, quite unconvincing. 

George Thomas, Chennai
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