Deprived — And Defeated
India is a country of strange contrasts and stern contradictions. Newborn children who need to live are allowed to die, two million of them every year, before their first birthdays. Elderly, disabled men and women who want and need to die are kept alive by artificial means. These are the two burning problems dealt with in this issue.
Today, after 57 years of Independence, our children continue to be among the most deprived in the world, casting a lengthening shadow across the country’s shine. Yet none of the manifestos issued by political parties during the recent elections mention any remedial measures — and children are supposed to be our national asset!
This sad lack has been more than made up for by the Children’s Manifesto, published on another page, issued by CRY, which has for the past 25 years been doing sterling work (described in an earlier issue of CHANGE) in the area of children’s rights. This Manifesto has the ring of truth and holds out a glimmer of hope.
Much concern is being expressed for senior citizens these days. But they continue to be deprived in India, as in several other countries, of their final right to die with dignity. It was Mahatma Gandhi who declared in another context: “I do not want to die of a creeping paralysis of my functions — a defeated man.” The Society for the Right to Die with Dignity was founded in India in the early 1950s. It has consistently pleaded for a law to provide medical assistance to terminate life under specific circumstances and has clearly defined the criteria for voluntary euthanasia.
The pros and cons of this are discussed in an article entitled “Are We Becoming A Danger To Ourselves?” also in this issue. This writer for one cannot think of anything more degrading, defeating and, yes, cruel than to take a man who is dying of an incurable disease, who has no wish or desire to live having lost control over his bodily and mental functions, and to strap him to life-support systems, with doctors playing God, till the last shred of his dignity is snatched away and death releases him.
A true story, deeply moving, “A Beautiful Life — And A Beautiful Death” is published along with the article.