Euthanasia- Preparedness of India

India is a huge country, but it took the case of Aruna Shaunbag, a nurse in KEM hospital, to create a countrywide debate on the issue of Euthanasia or Mercy Killing, 64 years after we became independent. This phenomenon, incidentally, was preceded by Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s beautiful work- the movie- Guzaarish. Overnight, what Aruna likes and how she looks became the talk, so did the debate of whether she was in a true vegetative state or not.  One thing which is actually commendable is the dedication of nursing staff of KEM Hospital, who has taken care of Aruna for all these years, expecting no reward or recognition, just putting the duty of service before everything else. There is no such example all over the world, and if the last few days are spared, the service of these nurses was unknown, outside the four walls of KEM. The court’s decision of turning down advocate Pinki Virani’s request of ending the suffering of Aruna was celebrated by the nursing staff as a victory.

If this issue is left aside, how justified it is to believe that a person, of sound mental state, has the right to decide if he wants to die, to put an end to each second of suffering, to say a good-bye and leave peacefully, not waiting for a dreadfully painful death. I believe that putting a blank opposition to euthanasia or mercy killing, as it is called, is unjustified. The two conditions here are being confused. The main opposition to Euthanasia in India has been on the basis that it will become a way for the relatives to get rid of the patient, also a source of organ trading. Mercy Killing and Right to Die are two different things and should not be confused. To KILL someone who is in a vegetative state can not be equated with relieving the suffering of a person who wails in pain, from an incurable disease, and is moving towards a slow but inevitable death. If such a person, in all his senses, after a doctor’s declaration that it is not possible to treat him, or even relieve his pain or suffering, decides to end his life, there should be some provision for this; as each one of us has a right to our lives, because of that right, we are entitled to sign the consent to subject ourselves to the most risky operations or experiments. For example, I do not need to ask the government, or anyone else before consenting for a heart bypass, where it clearly mentions that I may die. It means that I do have a right over my life. Then why is anybody bound to suffer if the quality of life deteriorates to such an extent from where no recovery is possible? A debate is necessary, but it seems that the issue has again moved into oblivion, till another similar appeal is filed in the courts.

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