Satish Acharya Cartoon-August-16
Image Credit: Satish Acharya

Cartoon from Satish Acharya: Silence is not a sign of acceptance

I'm referring to the cartoon which looks at the issues in India through the sketches of cartoonist Satish Acharya. It was an interesting one (“Cartoon from Satish Acharya: Prashant Bhushan and contempt of court in India”, Gulf News, August 16). The four pillars of Indian democracy suffered severe jolts in the recent past. The brutal majority of the ruling party systematically silenced not only the opposition parties but other constitutional institutions too. Latest being the contempt of court proceedings against Prasanth Bhushan, an eminent lawyer and civil rights activist for criticising the conduct of Chief Justice of India in public life. Not only, Bhushan, thousands of ordinary men and women, had criticised the Chief Justice of India through social media for his reckless behaviour. The court can silence only a few. Judges should encourage constructive criticism for improving the judicial system of the country as Supreme Court itself pronounced that it was not infallible. The Prime Minister himself set a bad precedent that he never bothered to address a single press conference in India in the last six years. However, judges conducted a press conference. Freedom of the press in India deteriorates day by day. Media which criticise the government becomes anti-national. On the whole, democracy is weakening, and citizens remain mute spectators. Will their actions strengthen democracy? The words of Arun Jaitley are still relevant: "Pre-retirement judgments are influenced by a desire for a post-retirement job."

From Mr Girish R Edathitta

Kerala, India

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Sport: Mahendra Singh Dhoni retires from international cricket

Without a doubt, it is a real shock to Mahendra Singh Dhoni fans that he has decided to hang up his gloves from international cricket (“MS Dhoni retirement: Bollywood stars hail cricket icon”, Gulf News, August 16). At the same time, taking into consideration the wavering minds of selectors, including the coach and captain, he has made the wise decision to avoid any embarrassment to anyone. We are glad that he would continue to lead Chennai Super Kings for at least for a couple of years more. He is the only captain to win all the three International Cricket Council (ICC) trophies: One Day International (ODI) World Cup in 2011, T20 World Cup in 2007, and Champions Trophy in 2013. In fact, he is the captain who took our Test team to world number one ranking, which we lost recently. It would be challenging to unearth such a talented, cool captain who is the best finisher in the world. Definitely, it's a quiet end to a glorious era, and our Indian team would sorely miss his services and guidance in the next year's World Cup. We wish him a happy and healthy retired life.

From Mr N V Krishnan

Chennai, India

COVID-19: How to manage stress, and well-being during the current crisis

During these unprecedented times, the COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted lifestyles, unsettled routines, altered working styles and drained patience level (“Mentoring at a time of remote working and all its stresses”, Gulf News, August 17). Paranoia about the virus and its associated risks has become conspicuous in the workplace.

Even the most confident or enthusiastic employees undoubtedly have felt anxious over the last several months as the world grapples with the pandemic. The workforce has encountered threats to personal opportunities, job security, safe working conditions, and reduction of benefits, interruptions of earnings and even loss of pay. With an uncertain future, the stresses on their finance and familial obligation have amplified.

As humans, we are wired for human connections and interaction. With the virus scare, in-person interactions have minimised drastically. The work from home option has left workers plugged to devices, and unplugged from peer connections and relationships, magnifying effects of isolation and loneliness.

As an employer practice compassionate leadership, and communicate with concern and empathy. It’s imperative to acknowledge that the rising uncertainty is compounding stress, anxiety and fear in your employees and their families. Be sensitive to their apprehensions during the crisis, reinforcing their confidence to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Use language that promotes psychological safety and well-being of employees instilling a sense of trust, faith and stability in uncertain times.

Ensure managers establish that human touch with employees who are on remote work. Communicate facts, be a healer and hope giver. Adopt a humane approach to float clear policies on remote working, salary revisions, travel restrictions and leave policies for their safety, health, and hygiene. Offer flexible working hours on the work from home schedule, particularly for employees with young kids who demand their attention. Also, provide leeway for intermittent intervals and breaks to breathe, relax and have light refreshments. These small breaks will help employees gain back their focus and concentration on the task at hand.

Eliminate bureaucracy and enable a matrix style of functioning (task-force). Offer autonomy in functioning to hasten the process, and eliminate time-consuming approvals –print and sign permissions. Create organisational chat groups for speedy, transparent interactions among team members. Let them feel the virtual connection of teamwork and support from colleagues or superiors.

As an employer, exchange timely updated communications that are honest, forward-looking and realistic to avoid scepticism and distrust.

Candidly articulate the company’s survival strategy to ensure safety. Offer the much-needed resilience to survive and thrive in the outbreak. Reach out to every employee with a powerful message; letting your voice lend a ray of hope in troubled times. The succinct message is their health and well-being matters. Ownership and commitment blend well with a two-way futuristic approach.

An organisation is not solely judged by talks rather how they act. Demonstrate the human facet of the organisation, and boost your reputation by being supportive, discerning and kind. Instruct your human resource team and managers to regularly share with employees’ useful digital resources for improvising mental health, self-care tips, de-stress mantras and techniques for alleviating stress or anxiety. Share links on novel work methods and innovative practices to increase efficiency. Also, let them vigilantly report red flags in behavioural changes of employees, so that professional help and counselling from a medical expert can be timely availed. Lastly, remember we are all in this, and together we can achieve more as a team emerging stronger than before.

From Ms Alvina Clara


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