12.10.2017

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The Leading Indian dailies have discussed the need for ‘living will’ that would allow people in advance to declare that they do not want their life to be prolonged by various medical life support measures. The papers have talked about ‘dignity of death’. The Nobel Prize for Peace awarded this year to ICAN continues to be of editorial attention. The press has called for ratifying the treaty propounded by ICAN for destruction of nuclear weapons. The print media is exasperated by the idea that the earth is ‘flat’!

THE TIMES OF INDIA in an editorial GRANT LIVING WILL writes, living wills allow people to declare in advance that their life must not be prolonged by life support systems if they slide into a vegetative state or go into irreversible coma. The government has told the Supreme Court that living will can make the elderly vulnerable to greedy relatives who have an eye on their wealth. The government has accepted passive euthanasia as law after the 2011 SC judgment. Passive euthanasia involves a high court setting up a medical board to take a decision on withdrawing life support after close relatives of a patient make such request. This is consonant with the right to live and die with dignity. But there is a stronger case for living will. It is an extension of passive euthanasia but has greater moral force because it allows an individual to exercise bodily autonomy even when consciousness has seeped out of the body. Medical ethics and human rights place a moral obligation upon doctors and relatives to accept patients’ preferences. Many countries like the US, Ireland and Germany have passed laws allowing advance healthcare directives. A living will is not a manifesto courting death. It is merely recognition that death cannot be annulled. This is why society as well as legal and medical institutions need to have a conversation about what constitutes a “good death”.

THE INDIAN EXPRESS in an editorial A LESS PERILOUS WORLD observes the Nobel Peace Prize and nuclear disarmament have a long association, starting with the 1959 award to Philip Noel-Baker, and subsequently in the awards to people and organisations in 1962, 1969, 1974, 1982, 1985, 1990, 1995 and 2005. International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Joseph Rotblat and Pugwash, and several others have received the prize over the years. This year’s Peace prize to ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) comes at a time when the threat posed by nuclear weapons has been all too evident in the global crisis triggered by North Korea’s nuclear programme. ICAN is a coalition of civil society groups and governments campaigning for total disarmament. Their prize was “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons”. Earlier this year, the Geneva-based group capped a decade of efforts for a n-ban with an international treaty that was negotiated and concluded at the United Nations. The treaty will come into effect only when 50 nations have ratified it; so far, only a handful has done so. Others need to follow suit.

THE ECONOMIC TIMES in an editorial NO EARTHLY REASON TO FLATLY DISBELIEVEcomments, antediluvian ideas still persist in the age of reason is known. There are all kinds of beliefs flying around, but the recent move of an American rapper to crowd-fund at least $1 million to send up a satellite to debunk the “theory” that the Earth is round must rank as among the most outlandish! Though the rapper is still about $998,000 short of his target, he is one among a surprisingly large number of people — especially in so-called developed nations — who believe the Earth is flat and everything that is put forth to prove otherwise is a conspiracy. While Pythagoras and Ptolemy and the shadow of the earth during lunar eclipses may not be enough to convince hardline flat-earthers, rejecting the authenticity of photographic evidence from space too demonstrates a high degree of self-delusion.