Euthanasia in India: Devoid of Any Hope or Income, Family Begs for Death in Letter to Prime Minister
Euthanasia-Representational Image(Image Credit: Twitter/BPD Balance @JadeBPDcoach

The question for most of us is how to live well or make our lives better. We are constantly striving to improve our present conditions and rightly so. But there is one family which has requested the Prime Minister to allow them to end their lives. A family in Guruharsahai, Punjab, wrote to the Prime Minister last week seeking "permission for euthanasia" reported The Tribune. Manohar Lal and his wife Shashi Bala are forced to beg for death for them and their family. They have two sons and a daughter but all their children are differently abled since birth.

Their story is one of utter helplessness and hopelessness. Their family is devoid of any income. The little that Manohar Lal had saved has been guzzled by illness and medicine for the family. Their call for help has fallen on deaf ears or the one's they were made to have refused to listen to them.

Talking to The Tribune, Manohar Lal said that “We have been reeling under abject poverty for the last 33 years,”. He narrated how a few years ago, after plenty of effort, the state government had sanctioned and agreed to provide his family a pension of Rs 500 per month. But Manohar Lal alleged that not only was the pension inadequate but it also didn't reach them in time.

Manohar Lal's eldest child, Gagandeep, is 33 years old, followed by Punita and Ankush who are 28 and 24 years old, respectively. Manohar said that the situation was still under control when the children were small and growing up but with time it has become extremely difficult to meet even daily needs. “I somehow managed to get my younger son educated till Grade X with the hope that he might get some job but that didn’t materialise,” he said to The Tribune indicating how the family was in dire straits.

The family has received some help from the Guruharsahai DSP recently claims Manohar Lal. But he also adds that these aids are helpful only temporarily and that a permanent solution needs to be found for ensuring the survival of the family in the long run. Or else, Manohar Lal doesn't know how his family will survive after him. This dark uncertainty has forced his family to plead for death over life and may bring the discussion on euthanasia back in discourse.

Active and Passive Euthanasia:

  • Active Euthanasia is when the person is forcefully killed with medical support. A lethal injection or overdose of medicine is given to a person who is in terminally ill condition. If the person is in terrible agony he/ their family can request for active euthanasia.
  • Passive euthanasia is when there’s a withdrawal of medical treatment which supports the life of an ill patient. It means turning off the ventilator for a person in a coma for days together. The life-extending drugs are also stopped, it means stopping something that keeps a person alive.

To sum it up, it is a difference between killing and letting a person die.

The term euthanasia became a popular concern in the case of Aruna Shanbaug, a nurse who was in a vegetative state for 42 years! There was a request made for euthanasia, but it was not legalized in India. On March 2011, the Supreme court of India legalized passive euthanasia. Though the court had rejected the plea to continue Aruna’s life support, it was because the hospital staff who treated and took care of her did not support the decision. But the court made a decision to legalise passive euthanasia. Shanbaug died in May 2015 due to Pneumonia. She was on ventilator support until the end.