Between Us




Editorial Consultants
E. J. Kalwachia
Anil Verma 
A. C. Patankar

A. I. Buvaneshwar (East)
F. K. Khapoliwalla (West)
Dhruv Sharma (North)
Vinod Kumar (South)

Nariman Bacha
S.R. Marolia

Copy Editor
Delshad Kumana

Assistant Editor
Rashna Ardesher

B. K. Karanjia

Designed by
Bharatlal Chaudhary
C. Karunaharan

Printed by
Genius Printers Pvt. Ltd

Founded, edited and published by B.K. Karanjia on behalf of Godrej
& Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd.,
Mumbai-400 079. For private circulation only.

"Willed Death"

ld age, when one has crossed the Biblical three score years and ten, is an enigma to be guessed, at the same time inspirative and depressing. On the one hand is the sense of triumph at one's mind surviving the weakening flesh and, on the other, the fear of falling helpless victim to the developing life-support systems which, except in the rarest of rare cases, prolong the agony but do not cure the ailment. It isn't fear of death at all, for death is a part of life several religions, in fact, consider death as life's climax when the soul merges with eternity. On no account should death be robbed of its dignity. This death wish is, under existing law, often denied, as in the recent case of the 25-year-old chess player K. Viswanath whose last wish was to be allowed to die in order that his organs be donated while they were still in good shape. But the Andhra Pradesh High Court denied his plea on legal grounds, and death opened its arms to him the very next day as if in rebuke of worldly judgements.

It is routinely argued that since God gives life, He alone has the right to take it. But this argument sounds singularly hollow when confronted with the fact that God's sole right to take life has been usurped and vandalised by warring man since the dawn of history. Man's history, in the main, is a history of wars. Man fighting man, whatever the trumpeted cause, has brought untold suffering to billions upon billions of men, women and children and all living things. Wars denying this basic right again and again are accepted, instant heroes are born and medals are distributed. Whereas euthanasia, even passive euthanasia in the sense of "withdrawing life support systems in terminally ill patients who have an incurable disease" which is a final act of compassion, and understanding, and love, continues to be denied. It could be argued that doctors who seek to prolong God-given life by artificial and even cruel means in a doubtful interpretation of the Hippocratic oath are in their turn usurpers playing God. What defines euthanasia and sets it above and beyond all considerations, including legal ones, is the quality of mercy, and as Shakespeare taught us, the quality of mercy is never strained.

The Society for the Right to Die with Dignity, founded by Minoo Masani and now chaired by the noted educationist and former minister, Prof. Sadanand Varde, has been doing a heroic job in making the concept of euthanasia understood and propagated and, more, made possible through scripting dying declarations. Prof. Varde did his utmost to get the bill on euthanasia passed several years ago, but it kept getting postponed in session after session. And on the Professor's inquiring why, an unnamed bureaucrat told him the reason - "neither votes nor money are likely to accrue to the Government from the passage of the Bill"! The shame of it but then bureaucracy lacks a human face. Pity, mercy still less, have no place in its deliberations.

With the objective of getting legal sanction for voluntary/passive euthanasia, the Society for the Right to Die with Dignity conducted an essay competition among college and university students on the subject of "Willed Death". The prize-winning essay is published in this issue.


B.K. Karanjia