Root out Corruption through Transparency


This article is written by Sh. Parmanand Pandey (Advocate, Supreme Court and General Secretary of Indian People’s Congress) on February 15, 2014 and is posted for general discussion on the subject.

It is a delightful pleasure to listen the highly incisive and illuminating discussions of Advocates like Shreepal Singh and Radhakrishna Kumar on any issue in the library, lounge or canteen of the Supreme Court. I have never seen or heard them indulging into trivialities. Both are voracious readers of the books on history, religion, social science, literature and law. Above all they always keep tab on the latest events taking place around the world as they avidly read newspapers. It is my privilege that I enjoy their affection in good measure and sometimes I take the liberty to trigger these intellectually equipped persons.

Yesterday it was the day of Shreepal Singh, who was speaking with spontaneity on what he termed as the ‘Dynamic Democracy’. He advocated for the system of ‘right to recall’ of the Parliamentarians, legislators or any elected representatives. When it was pointed out that frequent recall of the elected representatives will lead to anarchy and it will involve the huge expenses; he said that on the contrary it would strengthen the democracy, As far as the expenses were concerned he said that the new technology had to be employed to the hilt to substantially cut down the expenses. The right to recall will empower the people beyond their expectations and it will keep the elected representatives on their toes is the definite view of Shreepal Singh.

Let me summarize his loud thinking, which he elaborated yesterday.

We give our vote to a person, he/she is elected, and then the elected person disappears and has no time to listen to the problems of the constituents. The people, therefore, have no choice but to suffer this elected person for five years. An alternative has to be created with the help of modern technology, which is quite inexpensive. Whoever is having access to the internet, he/she may take advantage of it in keeping the elected person on constant alert. However, those who do not have the internet facility they should have make the full use of the mobile phones. A mechanism has to be developed by the Election Commission of India with the help of Information technologists for the sake of vibrant and dynamic democracy. Constant vigil of the elected person is the only guarantee to keep the democracy alive in the country. It will jolt the elected representatives from their slumber and lethargy. Unless and until they are made accountable to the electorates i.e. to the citizens of the country, they will continue to indulge in to corruption to the detriments of the people. There is no need at all to impose any moratorium on the public for recalling any parliamentarian or legislator. The day people feel disenchanted with their elected representatives, they can initiate the process of recalling.

The second most important thing for the polity is the transparency. Here also the use of the technology will be very vital. All companies, entrepreneurs and business should be legally oblized to show on the website as to how much they have incurred expenses on the production of an item of commodity and for how much they are going to sell the same. What measures have been adopted to ensure the quality of the production? Transparency will have to be the hallmark of the business and industry. As they say, sunlight is the biggest disinfectant and so, the transparency will put everything in the open where there will hardly be any chance of dishonesty or making black money. Opaque system generates black money and that in turn leads to corruption. It is difficult to control the river of corruption when it meets the ocean of corruption. That is why; the urgent need is to curb and control the very genesis of corruption. It emanates in the dark and evaporates in the light. Transparency is the light and the modern technology is the light giver. So long, transparency is not brought about with the help of technology; all tall talks of removing the corruption go in vain.

The third point is that it has to be fully and properly drilled into minds of the people that natural resources like; water, coal, air, rivers, petrol or other mineral belong to the nation or people. These resources cannot be allowed to be frittered away for the enrichment of the few. They are meant to be used for the greater good of all .Governance means decisions are taken for the benefit of the people in the transparent manner, without any hanky-panky and their complete and strict compliance. Any body willfully failing in performance of duties must be sternly dealt with. These steps, according to Shreepal Singh will be the harbinger of what he says ‘the peaceful revolution through technology’.

My friend Radhakrishna Kumar agreed with the essence and intent of his thinking but he has reservations about the modus operendi of achieving the goal. Every body is groaning under the weight of corruption and inequity in the society. However, what is really important is that the persons like Shreepal Singh are constantly watching and analyzing the problems to get them remedied.

Bane of Hindu Society – Casteism (2)


By Parmanand Pandey
 
Mahatma Gandhi’s signal contribution to annihilation of untouchability is unprecedented. Frankly speaking, no serious attempt was ever made to root out the inhuman and senseless practice of untouchability before Mahatma Gandhi. It is beyond our comprehension as from when the practice of untouchability started in the Hindu society. It is also a matter of great surprise that how the Hindu society which considers itself to be so tolerant and magnanimous think of perpetuating this sinful, outrageous and atrocious practice of untouchability?
The present generation may not even be able to imagine that how horrendous it was in nature and practice only a few decades ago. If we go by the historical books written by reformers, we find the hair-raising and heart-rending saga of the nefarious practice. It is said that untouchables were not allowed to tread or traverse on the paths that was being used by caste Hindus. If at all any untouchable thought of going on that path, he or she had to tie a broom in his or her waist from behind so that once he or she had moved on the path, it had to be swept by the broom. So much so, an untouchable was not allowed to use footwear even at the time of festivals or marriages. Untouchables were not allowed to cross the path of any caste Hindus.
If one goes by the Vedic scriptures, one finds that the classification of Hindu society was existent but there is no trace of untouchability in any scriptures at least in theory. Let it be hastened to be added that this does not mean that society as found during Vedic period was in any way the ideal one. It was vicious and rotten to say the least. It is, therefore, difficult to exculpate the Vedic literature or society for perpetrating atrocities on untouchables. In one of the texts has been ordained that if a Shudra was found to be reading Vedas or Vedic literature his tongue should be cut and if he hears it then molten glass should be poured into his ears and there was no harm if he was blinded for witnessing the Vedic rituals. The authenticity of these terrible injunctions is not very confirmed. But if one goes by other sources, one finds its authenticity is dubious. However, this does not in any way exonerates the Vedic society for its rigours against Shudras. Infact, it conducted itself in most intolerable and condemnable manner.
It is yet another enigma how four Varnas got split into thousands of castes, layer after layer, each caste and sub-case considering it superior or inferior in relation to other ones. Over the years it became so fossilized that it was an easy task for any fissiparous force to take advantage of the divisions and sub-divisions among Hindus.
This type of crime can be committed only by a race which is destined to self-destruction. It hardly needs to be said that this weakness of Hindus was the reason for their downfall. Hindus, who have been geographically associated with vast expanse of South East Asia, were defeated and humiliated number of times by the foreign aggressors. The assailants although were never very strong, intelligent or superior in arms as compared to Hindus but they were certainly more cohesive and united vis-à-vis Hindu adversaries. What is even more shocking is that even after repeated aggressions by the external forces, Hindus never realized and analyzed their weaknesses.
This actually requires dispassionate research in most objective manner as to how casteism grew and became monstrously strong. The tragedy is that it is very difficult to find objective researchers. Most of the persons who claim, rather deceptively pose themselves, to be researchers suffer from the disease of heavy jaundice and order to obtain the certificate of secularism they find the easy way of blaming one or the other caste of Hindus particularly caste Hindus.
Their (Researchers) aim is not to root-out the evils but to further perpetuate it by arraigning one section against other and in the process further weaken or divide the Hindus. The need is to annihilate caste with roots and branches. But how to achieve the goal is most pertinent question and is to be seriously pondered over.
 (This article was written on April 13, 2013 and posted at: Life and Law)

Bane of Hindu Society (1)


By: Parmanand Pandey
Division of Hindu society on the lines of Varnas and castes has made it completely hollow. This division, practiced and perpetuated for centuries, has made it so weak that it is unable to withstand any onslaught from outside and that is why myriad of evils and vices have set in this religion.
It is highly disturbing and makes one sick as to why all all great thinkers of Hinduism kept aloof from this cancer which has been eating its elan vital for the last many millenniums.
In this backdrop the advent of Gautam Buddha came as a whiff of fresh air. He could have expurgated the Hindu society by removing the division along the Varna and caste lines. The only drawback which one could find in teachings of Buddha was that laid excessive emphasis on the non-violence, which proved to be disastrous for the safety, security, unity and integrity of the country.
It is all the more perplexing that why even a person of dazzling intelligence like Swami Dayanand Saraswati could not think of breaking the shackles of castes. On the contrary, he advocated for retaining the system of four Varna. However, it must be stated in all fairness that Dayanand Saraswati, who was born nearly four and half decades before Mahatma Gandhi had made blistering attacks on the evils of the Hindu society.
He was very clear, confident and convincing in his thinking and logic that he dared all religions and tore into pieces the bookish religions like Christianity and Islam. Sikhism had not gained the status of separate religion independent of Hinduism till then. However, in his book Satyarth Prakash and Samskarvidhi he appeared to be in no doubt about the efficacy of four Varnas.
It hardly needs to be said that any amount of logic supporting the four Varnas cannot appeal to the reason of any conscientious person. It stands on very weak, fallible and extremely feeble legs. This obnoxious system has completely stopped the growth of society. There is no flow because all the avenues of mobility are stopped. Although it is said that there is no prohibition on the mobility from one Varna to the other but that is only for the namesake. The stark fact is that it is the birth which decides the Varna and caste of a person. Moreover, the trait and quality of a person is completely a subjective matter. We have not seen any person who could have moved from one Varna or caste to other. If anyone wants to leave or renounce his/her caste or Varna to adopt the other caste or Varna, he/she can never be adopted or accepted by the other case/Varna.  We do not find any such example of mobility, at least in the known history. This stagnancy has done the incalculable damage to a society which was so advanced in learning, industry and intelligence.
It is again baffling that why the successive thinkers after Buddha did not think beyond. They concentrated more on rooting out the Buddhism from the land of its birth than in reforming the Hindism by making it casteless society. It is also equally true that the way Buddha wanted to cast away the treasure of knowledge and wisdom in Hindu religion was shocking to say the least. It is quite possible that Gautam Buddha might have considered over the rigidity of Varna and caste system and might have found himself incapable of removing the despicable evil and hence thought to completely severe the link from Sanatana dharma, which is how the Hindu religion is known today rather than making any effort to reform it. Hence he thought it fit to found a new religion instead of breaking the head against the hard stones of Hinduism.
(this Article was written by parmanand pandey on April 11, 2013 and posted at: Life and Law)

Visible Changes in Villages


By Parmanand Pandey:
My recent visit to my native village, which is nearly 35 kms in the west of Azamgarh district of eastern Uttar Pradesh, has brought mixed feelings of sadness and satisfaction both. Sadness in the sense; that the greed for money has surpassed every other thing. There are hardly any qualms or compunctions for dishonesty or unscrupulousness. The element of immorality has gained sanction and legitimacy in the society. A person who is earning money by any means has obtained all respectability in the society. Thus the ill-gotten money has become the sure cleaner of all sins and crimes.
 
There was, however, some satisfaction as well, which I derived during my short trip. It was with regard to spread of education across all sections, be it caste Hindus, or Scheduled Castes. Girls-education has picked up very fast. All parents take special care to educate their children and they never hesitate in extending all possible facilities to their wards for good education.
 
This satisfaction, nevertheless, came with the tinge of remorse because the level of education has gone down abysmally low. Most of students of High School standard cannot write even one simple sentence correctly in their mother tongue-Hindi. Many of them, studying in 9th or 10thstandard, cannot solve even the simplest problems of arithmetic.
 
Another change that I noticed was that there is a craze for English medium schools; nobody wants to send his/her child in a government school, where all facilities like uniform, mid-day meal, books and stationery, are being provided to all children by the Government. This was unheard of in these days when we were school- going children nearly five decades ago. The fact is that neither there were any schools apart from the government schools nor anybody in the locality was in position to afford such costly education. The number of the government schools was few and far between.it was difficult to locate any school within the radius of many kilometers. It appears that the gravy train of economic growth has also brought the mushroom growth of English medium schools. But the level of education in such schools is so depressing that it would be foolhardy to make any comment on it. (Continued….)
 
 This article was written by Sh. Parmanand Pandey on April 19, 2013 and posted at: Life and law.

Rural people in India getting mired into many evils


This article was written by Sh. Parmanand Pandey (Advocate in Supreme Court and the General Secretary of Indian People’s Congress) on July 24, 2013 and was posted at: Life and law. It is being posted on this website for further dissemination of the contents.

There is definitely the huge craze for English language and in the process students have almost neglected their own language i.e. Hindi. I came across quite a large number young students who cannot take correctly the dictation of even two three lines. This has given mushroom rise to the private tuition , which has become a flourishing business in the far and remote areas of villages.
             Another depressing  scene which one cannot escape is the flood drinkers and substance users. There is hardly any family left which has not fallen in this trap, so much so, even girls are taking to the bad habits of tobacco chewing. Liquor has become very common  among youngsters cutting across the caste, community or economic strata .
           Pomp and show on the occasions of marriage, birth day celebrations  is being shamelessly imitated by the people of rural areas. Villagers do not hesitate in  taking loans or from mortgaging their lands etc; for the sake of organising  the pompous marriage ceremonies of their sons and daughters. I saw that many families are groaning with burden of loans. Firstly they try to get loans from the banks but when the bank limits cross and further loans are denied they turn towards private parties, who charge exorbitant rates of interests. I found that many families are sinking in the mire of debts with every passing years. The only glimmer of hope is the higher education. It is only they who can stem this downslide because the curse of dowry and show off in the marriages and other functions can be restricted if the women take the lead in this direction.. I have been told that some young and educated have certainly made the courageous initiative. They all deserve the praise and encouragement from the society and the administration.
    The  lumpenisation and the tendency to make money through easy means have also increased by leaps and bounds in the last two decades. While the introduction of  Panchayati Raj system  has done some good thing ,it has also brought new evils in its bandwagon. Cheating and thuggery which used to be minimal some twenty years ago have now grown in staggering proportions. However, there is immense hope that new generation if given proper education and moral moorings will cleanse the society from the cobwebs of corruption and  dishonesty. Scientific developments and their appropriate application wil go a long way in improving the fate of the people. Let us keep our fingers crossed.

FRIDAY, MAY 10, 2013

Arvind Kejariwal’s book “Swaraj”: A Critique


(This article has been written by Shri Parmanand Pandey, the General Secretary of Indian People’s Congress, who is an Advocate of Supreme Court of India.)
I have today (15.02.2014) finished reading the book ‘Swaraj’ written by Arvind Kejriwal who resigned from the Chief Ministership of Delhi last evening. He remained the Chief Minster for just only 49 days. This book was given to me by my Advocate friend Shri Radhakrishna Kumar, who is very emotional person. Shri Kumar has been earlier an ardent supporter of Narendra Modi and Baba Ramdev but these days he has become their bitter critic and a passionate supporter of Arvind Kejriwal. The cover price of the Book is although Rs. 150/- but Shri Kumar gave it to me in only Rs. 40/- He has given this book to many other persons at the same price. This thin book of 150 and odd page is in octavo size and printed in easy to read fonts.After reading this book I presented it to the Chief Editor of Chennai Metro , Thiru Vasigaran, who luckily dropped in my office.
Now let me come to the contents of the book. Frankly speaking, except the passion of the writer to eradicate the corruption from the society and the government root and branch, this book has left me completely unimpressed. I find that the ideas of the writer are tangled in confusion.
Mahatma Gandhi was the greatest votary of the Gram Swaraj. He wanted every village to be self-reliant. However, he was also not able to impress upon the people about the economics of the villages. By adopting the cottage industries you will certainly be able to provide employment to every villager, but you cannot make them viable and self reliant in all manners. Here in this book Mr. Kejrival wants to make Assemblies and Parliament redundant by empowering and strengthening the villages and Mohalla Sabhas.
Kejriwal appears to have disillusionment or false notions about the old form of Indian democracy. He says that the modern democracy has not been imported from the West but it existed in ancient India, which possibly a few person would agree. He gives the example of Vaishali Republic of Buddha era but anybody having the rudimentary knowledge of the history of ancient India would vouchsafe that it was absolutely different from the present from of democracy, which is very coherent and representative one rather than that of the chaotic democracy of Buddha era. Kejriwal wants to do away with every symbolism of the State like; the Rashtrapati Bhawan, which is spread over in 340 acre as if the Rashtrapati Bhawan is one of the major causes of the poverty in India.
Mr. Kejriwal has suggested that untied funds should be provided to all Gram Sabhas and Mohalla Sabhas and they must have the full freedom to spend the funds with the approval of 80% people of that particular Sabha. His harebrained idea is that local people are the better judge of the their own interests. They know how the funds could be better utilised like; for making the arrangements of water, schools or houses or hospitals. Nevertheless, he seems to be totally clueless as from where the money would come or who will release the money and how will it be generated by the Central or State governments? He does not have even any hazy idea of the most important aspect of the economics, although he has served as an officer of the Income Tax department.
Mr. Kejriwal’s ideas are utopian, completely divoced from the realities. He perhaps does not know that Indian villages are steeped and divided on the lines of castes and creeds. It is only those who belong to the dominant caste or religion have the final say. He advocates that the Gram Sabhas should have the blanket power and freedom to open schools, hospitals and other offices. So much so, the appointments should be made by the Gram Sabhas. Nobody knows, where from these Gram Sabhas will get the deserving candidates for the jobs. He wants that the judicial and police powers to be vested with the Gram Sabhas, which will be a sure recipe for chaos and disaster. But then, you cannot help a person who lives in the make believe world and considers that his ideas are the panacea of for all malaise that are prevailing in the country.
He says that everybody of the village will be told about the bad effects of the liquor ( as if people do not know about it) and thus with the permission of Gram Sabhas the liquor shops will be closed. He wants that equal powers should be given to women and no doubt it is a lofty idea but how will they be empowered, he has no solution to offer.
I have regards for the zeal of Shri Kejriwal to wipe out the corruption but I am sorry to say that his tiny book ‘Swaraj’, which is said to be the manifesto of ‘AAP’ does not provide any solution. His book is silent on issues like; foreign relations, scientific and technological development of the country, expansion of infra structures, industrialization, agricultural production, trade and commerce, military and economics. If he thinks that only by crying hoarse and from house tops the corruption can he eliminated, I can only wish him good luck but I do not agree with him even a whit that such wishful ideas could be of any help.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 24, 2013

Vilagers are getting mired into many evils.

          There is definitely the huge craze for English language and in the process students have almost neglected their own language i.e. Hindi. I came across quite a large number young students who cannot take correctly the dictation of even two three lines. This has given mushroom rise to the private tuitions , which has become a flourishing business in the far and remote areas of villages.
             Another depressing  scene which one cannot escape is the flood drinkers and substance users. There is hardly any family left which has not fallen in this trap, so much so, even girls are taking to the bad habits of tobacco chewing. Liquor has become very common  among youngsters cutting across the caste, community or economic strata .
           Pomp and show on the occasions of marriage, birth day celebrations  is being shamelessly imitated by the people of rural areas. Villagers do not hesitate in  taking loans or from mortgaging their lands etc; for the sake of organising  the pompous marriage ceremonies of their sons and daughters. I saw that many families are groaning with burden of loans. Firstly they try to get loans from the banks but when the bank limits cross and further loans are denied they turn towards private parties, who charge exorbitant rates of interests. I found that many families are sinking in the mire of debts with every passing years. The only glimmer of hope is the higher education. It is only they who can stem this downslide because the curse of dowry and show off in the marriages and other functions can be restricted if the women take the lead in this direction.. I have been told that some young and educated have certainly made the courageous initiative. They all deserve the praise and encouragement from the society and the administration.
    The  lumpenisation and the tendency to make money through easy means have also increased by leaps and bounds in the last two decades. While the introduction of  Panchayati Raj system  has done some good thing ,it has also brought new evils in its bandwagon. Cheating and thuggery which used to be minimal some twenty years ago have now grown in staggering proportions. However, there is immense hope that new generation if given proper education and moral moorings will cleanse the society from the cobwebs of corruption and  dishonesty. Scientific developments and their appropriate application wil go a long way in improving the fate of the people. Let us keep our fingers crossed.

Advancing Biotechnology and the crisis Of Purpose


 

(3-8 Nov, 1997 in Kobe/Fukui, Japan; Asian Bioethics Conference (ABC97) and WHO-assisted Satellite Symposium on Medical Genetics Services: Advancing Biotechnology and the Crisis of Purpose: by Dr. R. R. Kishore, MD, LLBChief  Medical Officer, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, President, Indian Society for Health Laws and Ethics (ISHLE), New Delhi – 110023, INDIA)

Introduction

In a world where every religion and culture contemplates continuance of life after death despite total absence of its proof the human endeavours can not be evaluated in the context of material perspectives alone. They are intimately linked with emotions, beliefs, faith, and traditions and require to be handled accordingly. Science, no doubt, has significant impact on human behaviour and relationships but it is not sufficient to sever the religious anchorage which acts as a great force to determine the moral content of human acts. On the biological plane, inspite of having a distinct genetic make-up, we are similar to other forms of life. All of us are born, live and die. But we are different from them inasmuch as we are persons. The human personhood is an emotional and value-based entity. All of us experience pain, misery, love, and joy. Human emotions are same everywhere and they have been same in all ages. This is a sign of human universalism and forms the basis of all human acts. This brings babies, discoveries, wars, and peace. This creates families, societies, and nations. But despite this intrinsic similarity the individuals can not be confined to a world of generalized standards, as the expressions differ. They reflect an individual’s response to the situation in which he is placed. Different people react differently to the same environment and expect different responses from others. These varied attitudes and expectations notwithstanding there has not been much dispute over the concepts of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. What is right and what is wrong? How do we learn it? From where did it come, why and when? It is difficult to answer these questions but one thing is certain: It is present in all human beings and has been with them since very long. It is deeply embedded in our thoughts. It is this concept, coupled with human emotions, which has assigned purpose to our actions. Biotechnological advancement has shaken this inherent edifice and the existing realities are no longer compatible with the emerging developments. Contemporary milieu therefore calls for answers at a much deeper level as the problem is not only medical, legal, technological or economical but involves questions of values, convictions, and human emotions.

Fundamental Questions

In a world where the requirement of health range from safe drinking water to breast prosthesis, promises of biotechnology range from humanising  animals to creating new life forms, and the concerns of human rights range from the rights of dead to the rights of unborn, there are many diverse and overlapping areas. Let us consider the following questions:

  1.         What is the harm if genetic structure of Homo sapiens is modified and a

different phenotype is created? After all, there was a time when we were grossly different from our present shape. Are we the sufferers because we failed to maintain our original form? We take pride in our present form rather than grieving over our lost identity. We call ourselves most evolved living beings. Those who failed to keep pace with the change died like Dodo and Dinosaurs. To resist change means to force extinction on our future generations. We have no right to compel the future generations to live in racial prejudice, impoverishment, disease, debility, and premature death. Our ancestors have never done it. What is the harm if a human being is created who consumes less resources, is more resistant, and more compatible with nature? Rather, this will provide more security and endurance to our future generations. Wisdom lies in vision and imagination and not in sticking to the present and the status-quo. Human race is already under pressure of dwindling resources, moral deficiency, and ecological disharmony. If the genetic intervention leads to creation of human species which requires less resources, lives under diverse whether conditions and is more compatible with other forms of life it should be treated as welcome change.

2.         What is wrong in having parentless children? Our social and family concepts developed when biological processes were beyond human intervention. Today, when we have learnt the art of framing our biology the human relationships need redefinition. We have so far been synonymizing parentage with origin without realizing that parentage is only a social and emotional expression. Advancing biotechnology mandates separation of this component from the biological element which is only confined to genetic linkage but our failure to reconcile with the emerging reality has led to the ethical miscarriage of concealment of genetic identity of the babies born out of donated gametes. Furthermore, an individual may not like to be created out of borrowed or donated gametes. Rather he/she would like to have been produced in the natural manner. But we have been making babies by artificial means. How are we competent to take decision in this regard? Why should an individual be a victim of hidden origin in order to satisfy the urge of others to own him as their child? And since the individual has already paid the price by being born why should his interests not prevail over the parents and why should his roots be concealed from him? Morality is intimately linked to science. Secrecy breeds mistrust and the moral structure raised on such false foundations cannot be stable. Transparency is the manifestation of truth and purity and affords the surest guarantee for rational and orderly human conduct.

3.         Why should we not grow foeti to harvest organs and tissues? We can liberate millions from disease and agony, improve their quality of life, enhance their contribution to the society and divert resources to other meaningful areas. What is wrong in it? How does it affect us? Does it imperil our survival, disturb our social order or cause economic insecurity? Or does it impart moral impoverishment or transgress our religious domains? Or is it the expression of our emotional vulnerability, without any scientific or metaphysical basis? Millions of people are dying due to organ scarcity. Sizable resources are being spent for curbing organ trade, enforcing prohibitions, maintaining organ banks and waiting lists, and on palliative measures to prolong life of terminally ill patients. Death has been redefined in an attempt to tide over the organ scarcity. Those who did not feel convinced with the new doctrine and perceived it as a premature termination of life had to ultimately concede. Quest to alleviate human misery took over moral mores. But the mere thought of producing foetal crops for harvesting tissues generates abhorrence and self-hatred. This reflects human sensitivities totally independent of scientific and material considerations. One may argue that rights accrue to a ‘being’, not to those who are yet to be born. Whatever I do i.e., my food, indulgences, priorities, likes-dislikes, job and everything else affects my progeny and in the process they may suffer avoidable harm. Does it mean that I should stop living in order to promote the interest of those who do not exist?

4.         What is misery? What is pain? It is an individual’s response to the situation in which he is placed and as such it may vary according to his personhood. We want organs to save the ill and dying. The family members do not allow them to be removed from a brain-dead person for fear of mutilation of the body leading to loss of peace to their dear-one in the heaven. Should we dismiss it as absurd, a mere superstition? Similarly, one may feel withdrawing support from a terminally ill patient is inhuman while another may feel it is perfectly in order. Medical decision is not based only on scientific imperatives but is also a matter of personal emotions, feelings and relationships. The decision in clinical and family settings contemplate flexibility. Paradigmatic rigidity in certain situations may lead to ethical miscarriage. Bioethics is a blend of biotechnology and culture and the discipline is further complicated because, in the same value system, different people feel differently.

5.       What are the foetal and maternal rights? Termination of pregnancy or abortion is an issue that displays different approaches in different parts of the world. It is striking that in the countries like USA and Canada, situated adjacent to each other, with strong socio-economic, religious and cultural similarities, the approach has been diagonally opposite. While USA has adopted a cautious approach linking the termination to the duration of pregnancy by adopting a trimester system Canada has adopted a much liberal approach recognising abortion as the woman’s fundamental right as is evident by the land-mark pronouncement of the Canadian Supreme Court in 1988 declaring that prohibition of abortion constitutes breach of “liberty” and “security of the person”, as protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

6.         Let us consider the following examples

i.          ‘A’ in the terminal stage of renal failure, is fighting for his life and needs immediate kidney transplantation but nobody is prepared to donate his kidney to him. ‘B’, totally depleted and impoverished requires money to buy food for himself and medical aid for his child, dying of serious sickness but nobody is prepared to provide financial support to him. ‘B’ gives his kidney to ‘A’ who in turn extends consideration to ‘B’ in order to safeguard his and his family’s survival.

ii.      ‘A’ is blind and requires corneal transplantation to restore his vision. ‘B’, under renal failure, needs immediate kidney. ‘A’ gives kidney to ‘B’ who donates one of his corneas to ‘A’. ‘B’ survives. ‘A’ sees the world.

How should the above interaction be viewed? Immorality? Trading? Crime? Exploitation? Human Commodification? Perhaps none. Truly speaking, it is the expression of mutuality and reciprocity based on pragmatic considerations. So long the society is not capable of catering to the genuine and compelling needs of ‘A’ and ‘B’ they have the right to look after themselves with the help of each other. The instinct to survive is a biological reality and it is their inherent duty to preserve their life. However, one may argue that there are things worse than death and greater than life and in order to uphold human dignity sacrifices have to be made.

(7) We have to ensure that the advancing biotechnology remains a purpose oriented pursuit and the cart is not put before the horse as we have done in the past. We discovered atomic energy without attaining maturity to put it to the right use. We have been exploring space without knowing its impact on the humanity. And now we are involved with human genome. Knowledge in the absence of right attitudes may be dangerous. Time has come when we have to see beyond our scientific achievements. Why are we so deeply involved with biotechnology? What is the purpose behind our tryst with the genes? Why do we want to decode human genome? Who is going to be benefited ? What is meant by benefit? Before searching answers to these questions we have to answer two basic questions-

I.          What is a human being?

ii.          Why should there be a human being?

Let us answer the first question. Had the human being meant only the human genome and its expression the answer would have been simpler. But the human being means human creature plus human personhood. I leave this question here as I would be discussing it further in the next section of this paper, namely, the ‘Indian Cultural Thought’. The second seems more difficult. It can be replied by counter-questions. Why should there be a universe? Why should there be anything at all? What will happen if the human being becomes devoid of human entity? What is the harm if I live like a plant? Why blue is blue, and red is red ? Why 2+2 = 4 ? Quest to find an answer to every question leads to nullity. Universe exists on intrinsicality. Analysis and dissection beyond a certain point results into loss of an object. There seems to be no other answer to these questions except that existence is a purpose in itself. To be a human being is a purpose in itself. Without the human genome there can not be a human identity and in order to continue as human species we are bound to preserve human genome.

The Indian Cultural Thought

  1.         In Indian thought the facts are perceived at a level much deeper than the molecular plane. The theme of Indian perception is universality, holism and spontaneity which means that the things exist in a state of mutual interdependence, interlinked with each other and the cosmic forces. The objects owe their integrity to a stable centrality and an interplaying peripherality. This is common to all phenomena, i.e., the solar system, the atom, and the life. In case of living beings the centrality is constituted by the instincts which are basically two: the instinct to survive and the instinct to multiply. In case of Homo sapiens this centrality is impregnated with certain essential traits which distinguish them from other forms of life. These essential human traits are known as dharma (in ancient Indian language Sanskrit), the nearest synonym to which in English is virtue. These virtues are; righteousness, truthfulness, love, trust, compassion, beneficence, tolerance, forgiveness, sacrifice, and rationality. The moral values — justice, equality, autonomy, benignancy, altruism, human solidarity, respect for the dead, respect for other forms of life, and protection of the weak  — emerge out of these virtues. These values guide the individual and the societal conduct and the material concepts like, ‘utility’, ‘quality’, and ‘economics’ reflect an attempt to uphold these values. No other being is embellished with these properties and this is the reason why human beings are the most advanced mortals in the Nature.

2.         The objects in the Nature are identified more by their functional attributes than their physical formation. Sun, a mass of hot gases is perceived as a source of light and heat; Water, a compound of Hydrogen and Oxygen, with coolness and quenching of thirst; Iron, an element of specific atomic structure, with strength and resilience; Rock, a compound of many elements, with firmness and stability; Lion, an animal, with valour and courage; Flower, a bunch of petals, with beauty and fragrance. Similarly, the Homo sapiens, a biological entity comprising of twenty amino acids is perceived as “Human” because of the above virtues. In other words the expression ‘Human’ synonimises human virtues or dharma. With the loss of this human content he looses the ‘Human’ personhood and is reduced to human creature.

3.         The Indian thought seeks integration by continuance and spontaneity which means that germination, growth and decay are the phenomenon occurring successively as well as simultaneously, i.e., the one not only preceding or succeeding the other but concurring with the other. Events in the nature are the roots and fruits of each other and this complimentarity is the source of unending sustenance. The termination of life by human intervention (which includes non-intervention) amounts to an adversarial action opposed to Nature’s complimentarity. For this reason Indian philosophy discovers the preservation of life as a natural imperative not merely a metaphysical concept and perceives it as an absolute value, not related to abundance or scarcity. The individual autonomy does not include the right to kill or to be killed and that is why killing is always unethical and the will to be killed is always invalid. As such Indian thought provides a clear and distinct message, i. e., the individual’s life is to be preserved — regardless of resources constraints and his desire.

4.         In the Indian cultural thought the concept of common heritage of humanity is well-rooted since long and the entire humankind has been perceived as one big family and those who choose to divide the humanity on the basis of race, religion, consanguinity, personal proximities or any other ground are seen as narrow-minded. The said thought is contained in the following Sanskrit verse-

“That person is my own, and the other one is not my own is a thinking of small-heartedness. For the generous ones the entire humanity is one family”

The Purpose

Humanity is the manifestation of human content of Homo sapiens. It is an accumulation of human endeavours, pursuits and attainments. It reflects a collective wisdom, i.e., the wisdom of all people of all ages — including the future generations, through a composite phenomenon known as culture which is the process of transformation of the raw, primitive and the hidden into finished, advanced and revealed through the development of intellectual and moral faculties resulting into enlightenment and excellence in the form of religion, art and science. The process involves interaction between human virtues and instincts on one hand, and the environment on the other. It is an ongoing process during which the outputs merge with the source leading to further enrichment. All discoveries and inventions are a part of this human process and at the essential level there is no difference between the two. Both constitute the process of knowing the unknown through the known and are basically the search and the revelation involving the faculties of imagination and investigation. But there is one big difference. Inventions have applicability. Applicability involves purpose. Purpose makes all the difference: As wide as between a power-house and Hiroshima or as wide as between a cancer cure and Nazi eugenics.

It must be understood that the humanity is not merely the expression of biological profile of the human species. It is the outcome of interaction of human beings with themselves and the environment. It reflects the content and the impact of human actions and interactions The destiny of the human race therefore does not depend on the genetic characteristics alone. Owing to many factors beyond their control the humankind has a common destiny. But this holds true only as long as there is no interference in the basic structure of human genome, alteration of which may result into loss of human characteristics leading to many distortions in the existing setup, imperiling the survival of human race.

The security and dignity of human race lies in its survival as a distinct entity. For this purpose an intimate and sustained inter-human relationship is the prime requirement. Human solidarity is necessary in order to maintain effective equation with other objects in the Nature The secret of human solidarity lies in similarity emerging out of genetic uniformity. It is therefore imperative to preserve this genetic oneness. It is with this perspective that the human genome has been conceived as a common heritage of humanity.

Continuance of human species as a distinct biological entity is a functional imperative not only in the interest of their own survival but also to ensure preservation of biosphere. The human being endowed with virtues as intrinsic human property constitutes a source of responsibility towards other forms of life and objects of Nature. The saga of human existence displays a continuous quest to win over vulnerability and ignorance by pooling of knowledge, experiences and resources. The orderly conduct, mutuality, reciprocity and optimization of resources has led to further security and enrichment. The human race, after long journey of evolution, has reached the present stage of scientific, religious and cultural attainment, with vast potential of material and intellectual creativity. The Nature can not afford to loose this prized possession.

We may also appreciate that we are always at a particular stage of development in the course of biological evolution. The genetic mutation is a natural and on-going process, and it is because of this process that we are in existence today as a human species. Inevitably, a time will come when we will be replaced by ‘higher forms’ as we have replaced the ‘lower forms’ (who knows we might have been the ‘lower forms’ as there are many missing links in our knowledge about the history of evolution). But we do not feel concerned as the change due to natural process occurs very gradually, spread over a long period of time and it not confined to human beings alone, it affects all that exists in the Nature.

Conclusion

The discovery of genes is the mankind’s biggest achievement and we have reached a stage where it is not possible to stop the march of advancing biotechnology because the genetic research is driven more by curiosity than application. Many questions are still open and a cautious, but pragmatic, approach is required while dealing with a force as strong as advancing biotechnology. Scientific advancement leads to cultural evolution which means change in human thinking, lifestyle and relationships. The existing norms and patterns of human behaviour are redefined. That which appears strange today becomes acceptable tomorrow. The crisis of purpose exists as long as we do not change our conceptual fixations. We must remember that the universe runs on Laws, not on man-made rules, priorities, concepts, likes or dislikes. Those who ignore this truth become incompatible and perish. The essential purpose of biotechnological advancement is to ensure continuance of a virtuous, peaceful, egalitarian, and eco-friendly human race.

%d bloggers like this: