Tuesday, October 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Malpractices in the sale of organs

The views of Dr Ranbir Singh Pannu “What is wrong with sale of organs?” (October 14) swings the pendulum to the opposite extreme in the context of kidney transplants and the related issue of malpractices in the donation of kidneys. The Press was mainly highlighting the ugliness of kidney trade without pinpointing the faultlines and the rage and fury seemed to be fuelled by some myopic politicians and also by professional rivalry. What this campaign seemed to be heading for was suggestive of throwing the baby with the dirty bathwater. On the other hand, what Dr Pannu is proposing would be opening the gates wide open on the mercantilism of organs by slumlords, shysters and shylocks.

There was a few months back a highly seminal essay by Michael Kinsey in the Time magazine analysing the emotional turbulence unleashed in a patient on being declared terminally ill. He says there are three ways to deal with a news like this: acceptance, denial and confrontation.

There is no question as to which approach will appeal to the patients and their wards. Our culture and literature celebrates aggressive victimhood. Dr Pannu has rightly said that a person facing imminent death will stand in confrontation against regulatory laws and procedures if it is medically possible to prolong life. But the heat and din created in the Press and the politicians jumping into the fray without a proper study of the ramifications of the problem would seem to be endorsing a confusing admixture of denial of treatment and acceptance of unfortunate fate of the patient.


Allowing open sale of kidneys would tantamount to exchange between economic distress and medical relief. Moreover, it will convert India into a transplant market where people from all over the world will descend to shop for organs with big moneybags which will push transplant costs skyhigh which would be affordable only by rich foreigners. Besides such merchandising will not only be socially repugnant but also invite medical ostracism from bodies like WHO.

So the sensible pragmatism and finer nuances of societal norms would lead to the middle path which is possible through liberal amendments in Section 2 (k) of the Transplant of Human Organs Act, 1994 which at present stipulates that payment to the donor for his medical treatment and other expenses and for loss of earnings would not be treated as cost of kidney. The amendments should extend this exemption to the amount paid for future impaired earnings as well as any bona fide and genuine gift in cash or kind by the donee to donor.

The appraisal and valuations in this regard should be entrusted to the Authorisation Committees which should be manned by competent doctors and actuaries of proven public repute and integrity. Of course, the transplants under the amended Act should be available only to resident Indians by the resident Indians. Even NRIs should be excluded.

R. C. KHANNA,  Chartered Accountant, Amritsar.

Welcome crusade

The Punjab government’s crusade against corruption has been welcomed by the public and has also found wide support in the columns of your esteemed news paper. It deserves commendation that all backdoor entrants in the service of the state from lowest to highest rank are being shown the door in an effort to cleanse the state administration.

However, even pious intentions of the crusader become doubtful when glaring instances of discrimination come to notice. A different yardstick seems to have been adopted so far as recruitments made in the Police Department are concerned. Hundreds of Assistant Sub-Inspectors of Police were enlisted through a departmental committee of pliable officers headed by an Inspector General of Police. The committee ignored all merit and the entire list of candidates was revised as per the wishes of the then political bosses. A mere perusal of the particulars of the selected candidates can bring the cat out of the bag.



What a downfall!

I feel really ashamed of myself when I read in almost all the newspapers that the entire Mumbai gathered outside the premises of Amitabh Bachchan to wish the megastar on his 60th birthday.

There was a virtual hysteria as the Big B, arrived at the gate to accept the greetings of fans and well wishers. Huge sprays of crimson roses, laminated portraits of the star, small mementoes and hosts of birthday cards scribbled with messages and personal appreciation, made their way to the Bachchan household even as a leading channel carried one-line birthday messages from his fans all over the country. Another channel crossed all the limits of sychophancy when it beamed the celebrations live for hours together.

Special supplements of dailies, enlisting the star’s achievements and tracing his slow but steady rose to stardom and with huge photographs of the star in various poses, hit the stands that day.

What is Amitabh Bachchan’s contribution towards the country? Can anybody tell? He is one of the biggest Income-Tax defaulters. He had been handsomely paid for his acting skills. He has not done any charity work so far. He is no where near Dilip Saab. He entered politics in big way and crashed out like a house of cards.

How many of us go and wish happy birthday to our soldiers? How many of us go and wish happy birthday to Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Dhanraj Pillay or Milkha Singh. Brig Chandpuri who fought a battle never receives anyone on his birthday.

This shows that we are still a mentally enslaved nation. A country can never become great where filmstars are worshipped like gods. Amitabh is certainly a fine actor with a haunting voice, but I never imagined that he will exploit the sentiments of gullible people.

All that happened on October 11, 2002, reminds me a couplet of Dr Iqbal.

“Lakin tune mujhae paida kiya us mulk mae tune, Jis mulk pe bande hae gulami pe rejhmand."

Dr NARESH RAJ, Patiala

What is humanity?

Celebrated Persian poet, Farid-ud-din Attaar’s remarks “What is humanity? To feel pain at the sorrows of our neighbours, to feel humiliated at the humiliation of human beings” (“Spiritual nuggets”, October 14), are a pithy expression of wisdom and should be regarded as a rule of good behaviour. These have reminded me of an Urdu verse: Dard-e-dil key vaastey paida kiya insaan ko/ Varnah ta’at key liyey kuchh kam na they karroobiyaan (God created human beings to feel sympathy with those who are in distress, otherwise there was no scarcity of cherubs to worship him).

Service to human beings is one of the highest attributes of humanity. A person sans sympathetic nature is insensate.

Humanitarians are easily affected by the misery of others and succour them in their predicament irrespective of their religious beliefs. After a battle, Bhai Kanhayya, a devout disciple of Guru Gobind Singh, served water even to the wounded Muslim foes reciting his Master’s words: Maanas kee jaat sabhai ekai paihchaanbo (Know you all that the caste of mankind is one). According to the holy Prophet of Islam there is no charity deserving a greater reward than giving water to a thirsty one. Bhagat Puran Singh started a leprosarium at Amritsar to look after lepers. Even in his old age, quite often he would personally feed and dress some patients.

Only the lovers of mankind share the sorrows of others and help them, otherwise “Is dunya mein raihney waaley apna apna gham saihtey hain/Kaun paraaya rog khareedey kaun paraaya dukh apnaaey.”


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