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Invisible Injustices - 83

Invisible Injustices - 83

A five member constitutional bench led by Deepak Misra, the Chief Justice of India, displayed a rare unanimity of consensus to form a common constitutional principle harmonizing the inevitable opposite facets of human beings– Life and Death, pronounced a land mark judgment on March 9 legalizing passive euthanasia and affirmed that “right to die with dignity is an intrinsic facet of right to life” as guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution of India”.

Many are the explanation of passive euthanasia. In short, it is withdrawal of one or more life support system to hasten the death of a terminally-ill patient. Various medical and legal dictionaries define passive euthanasia as the act of hastening the death of a terminally-ill patient by altering some of life supports and letting nature take its course on him/her.

Passive Euthanasia is nothing new to India as it has been there in one form or other. However the incidence of passive euthanasia is in recent times is more pronounced though it is stealthily planned by the rich and powerful. Let me explain with few examples of Indian instances of passive euthanasia.

Normally one cannot survive without oxygen more than six minutes. Air pollution and consequently non-availability of sufficient pollution-free air in India is a very serious issue with continued burning of fuel wood and biomass, adulteration of transport fuels, large scale burning of crop residues, coal based power generation plants and other air-polluting industries in India. India is the third largest emitter of green house gases in the world after China and USA. A 2013 study among non-smokers has found that Indians have 30% lower lung function compared to Europeans. Though the Air Pollution Control Act was passed in 1981 to regulate air pollution the 2016 Global Environmental Performance Index ranked India 141 out of 180 countries. In pollution related deaths India ranked No.1 with an estimated 2.51 million deaths in 2015 alone. In 2015, India accounted about 28% of the estimated nine million deaths due air and water pollution linked deaths in the world. That the Central and State Governments are so painfully tardy in implementing the air pollution standards laid down by themselves is equivalent to withdrawal of pollution free air, the most important life support system of people in this country: Invisible Passive Euthanasia.

The Rangarajan Committee, constituted by the Government of India in 2014, fixed the latest poverty line as Rs 32 and 47 per person per day in the rural and urban India respectively. Accordingly 29.5% (30%) of the population (375 million) is officially below poverty line out of the present estimated population of 1250 million. The minimum wage fixed at the national level in 2015 is 160 per day which means 32 rupees per person in family of five. First of all no one can have a human living with 32 or 47 rupees per day. The periodic gimmick of fixing of poverty line and the revamping of related poverty alleviation programmes itself is a bogus bureaucratic and political exercise of stealthily withdrawing food, the most essential life-support system: Invisible Passive Euthanasia – Invisible Injustice.

Food is the most essential life support system for everyone to survive. In one of my previous write ups on “Public Distribution System (PDS) in India – An Analysis” ( Invisible Injustices-79) I had established that the PDS does not reach the people it is meant for. The ground reality is that, even after 78 years of its existence, it does not really reach the people it is meant for. A study by Planning Commission member Kirit Parikh in 1994 found that in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, more than 90 per cent of the deserving population did not get any cereals from the PDS. Even where it is operational, the PDS was socked in corruption and pilferage. Seven high level evaluations completed between 1985 and 2005 were totally negative of PDS which spends Rs 4.27 to transfer the benefit of one rupee to the poor. Expert studies have shown that PDS suffers from nearly 61% error of exclusion and 25% inclusion of beneficiaries, i.e. the misclassification of the poor as non-poor and vice versa. Another challenge is the leakage of food grains during transportation to the ration shop and from the ration shop itself into the open market. Fig. 1 gives the year wise per capita consumption of rice per month ( National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi) and table 1 gives the per month consumption of cereal in India. Both are showing steady decreasing trend in the consumption of rice and cereals as a result of slow and steady withdrawal of the main energy food.

Figure I. A. Trends in Per Capita Rice Consumption



Table 1.1: Per capita cereal consumption per month (in kg.)




















From various evaluation studies it is proved beyond doubt that PDS India is a show-piece of relief programme for employing about 2.5 lakh people and at the same time used as an instrument of slow and steady withdrawal of food the essential life support to human life: Invisible Passive Euthanasia –Invisible Injustice.

The next best incidence of Indian Euthanasia is seen in the health system. It is estimated that in India there is one government allopathic doctor for every 10,189 people, one government hospital bed for every 2,046 people and one state-run hospital for every 90,343 people. It is a matter of routine that patients share beds or are laid up on the verandahs of hospitals and doctors are overworked. According the National Health Profile 2017, India has a little over one million doctors in allopathic medicine to treat its population of 1.3 billion people. Of these, only around 10% work in the public health sector. The shortage of trained health personnel and infrastructure is the most acute problem in rural areas. The enormous health expenses push about 65.6 million people into poverty each year. We have instances of dead bodies in hospital mortuaries being mutilated by dogs and people literally carrying home their dead ones because the hospitals refused them transport and tragedies like the hundreds of infant deaths in Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College every year. All public hospitals and healthcare centres are beset with problems of mismanagement and inadequate resources. Though they are being brought to the notice of those responsible these problems are seldom corrected. Most of public hospitals have become places where the sick go to die. Out of one million doctors in allopathic medicine just 1.1 lakh work in the public health sector to which India’s 900 million rural population turns for treatment. Neglect of public health system is the best way of withdrawing the life support system of 900 million rural people in India which form 72% of India’s population: Indian passive euthanasia for a long term control of population explosion.

Indian medical system is a combination of active and passive euthanasia. Rampant administration of adulterated drugs in India is another form of Indian active and passive euthanasia. According to World Health Organization (WHO) 35% of the fake drugs sold all over the world comes from India occupying the counterfeit drug market of about 40000 million rupees. A large quantity of medicines sold in India are either fake or of poor quality.

The most unfortunate thing is that those who are responsible in the health sector in India are aware of what is happening in drug industry. Most of the fake drugs are made in extremely polluted atmosphere. That the standards prescribed by the Pharmacy Council of India are being violated regularly is a clear sign of the government’s apathy or corruption as a means of stealthily undermining the health support system for life of the people of India: one of the most effective methods of Indian Passive Euthanasia – Invisible Injustice.

There are many more of such methods of Indian Passive Euthanasia which are left to the imagination of the readers.

(The writer is retired Professor, XIM Bhubaneswar.

(Published on 19th March 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 12)