Organ transplant

I read with great interest the article by V.K. Subburaj and others on Tamil Nadu's organ transplant programme (Oct. 25). All residents of the State should indeed be grateful to the government for having adopted this scheme and for having streamlined the procedures. The authors describe the growth of the programme, and ask the rhetorical question, “How did this come about?” They then give a number of reasons, and suggest that the entire credit for this development should go to the government. I believe they have failed in the opportunity to give credit where it was really due.

The Transplantation of Human Organs Act was passed in 1994, and was adopted by Tamil Nadu in 1995, a full 13 years before the government woke up to its responsibility. During this time, the programme was actually going on in a few hospitals in the State, though the pace was not anywhere near that being achieved now. What actually imparted the current momentum to the programme was a single altruistic deed performed by a doctor couple, Dr. Pushpanjali and Dr. Ashokan. Their sixteen year old son Hithendran had a traffic accident and was left brain dead. In their moment of grief, they thought of the large numbers of people suffering with terminal disease of so many different vital organs, and they donated all the organs of their son for transplantation. Not just that, they have thereafter devoted considerable efforts to spread the word to others. The Press also played its part by giving wide and dignified publicity to their noble act. This is what inspired a number of others to follow suit, and the number of deceased organ donors rose sharply. It is significant that the boy died on September 20, 2008, and in the very next few weeks the effect was felt. All that the government did was to step in then and take measures to regulate the distribution of organs at that stage. I do not wish to belittle the efforts of this team of government servants, but they should not forget the people who started the trend.

I should also point out that from the time the Act was adopted to October 2008, when Mr. Subburaj and team say the programme started, Chennai's Apollo Hospital had already done 153 kidney transplants from deceased donors, without any help or encouragement from the government. This was possible because of the deeply committed transplant team of the hospital. Firmly believing that example is better than precept, three members of this team have donated the organs of their own relations who happened to die in the hospital. To this day, Apollo hospital leads the State in the number of deceased donor organs contributed to the pool. While Subburaj et al mentioned proudly that a third of all the transplants were done at government hospitals, and that three hospitals have provided three quarters of the donated organs, they failed to mention that 34 per cent of the donors were from one single hospital, Apollo, and that Apollo contributed more organs to the common pool than it received from the pool.

Dr. M.K. Mani,

Chennai

Arundhati's remark

This refers to activist Arundhati Roy's observation in a seminar that Kashmir was never an integral part of India, and the report that a case of sedition may be filed against her. I find the issue being blown out of proportion. No one, in the recent past, from Shiv Sainiks to Akalis, has ever been punished for making more seditious remarks than what Ms Roy reportedly said.

There is no gainsaying that Kashmir has been a disputed territory since Partition, falling mainly in India and partially in Pakistan. Unless the dispute is resolved permanently, all claims and counterclaims with regard to Kashmir's ‘integral' status will remain meaningless.

Balvinder Singh,

Chandigarh

To most Indians, it may be sacrilegious to suggest that Kashmir is a disputed territory but that is the world-view of the State. The Instrument of Accession gave India legal rights over Kashmir. But no serious effort has ever been made to ascertain the Kashmiri mindset. We believe, perhaps rightly, that Kashmiris have everything to gain economically and politically by being part of a successful democracy. But this admission should come voluntarily from them.

R. Ravichandran,

Chennai

The frenzy created by the media and the right-wing around the statements of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Ms Roy is most amusing. There is nothing new in their statements. Come to think of it, the Indian establishment thinks that by foisting the 91st case against Mr. Geelani, it will be able to stop him from speaking his mind! And the Indian state cannot stand up to the scrutiny of Ms Roy — one of the finest intellectuals of our times — and thinks that by threatening her, it will be able to deter her. When will our nation grow up?

Biju Mathew,

New Delhi

Ms Roy might have touched a raw nerve by saying Kashmir was never an integral part of India. However, there is a need for the majority community to introspect how it treats the minorities in their day-to-day life. Many people do not entertain the members of the minority community as tenants, do not offer them job opportunities, and do not interact with them socially. Individually, we may be secular and as a nation we may be better than the rest of the world in our equation with the minorities. But we are not the angels we make ourselves out to be. That the Pandits were driven out of Kashmir is no reason to condemn the entire minority population.

R. Vijaykumar,

Chennai

Ms Roy's remark is against the sentiments of Indians, particularly Kashmiris. The media, too, are to blame for giving undue importance to her statement which might internationalise the issue. Importance should be given to the Kashmiri youth, Shah Faizal, who topped the civil service examination this year.

G.H. Mallikarjun,

Gulbarga

The ‘K' word is sensitive and touchy. Both the communities are bearing the brunt of the violence in the State for almost three decades. Non-Kashmiris who cannot contribute towards solving the problem should realise that such speeches only add fuel to the fire.

Jyoti Risbud,

Thiruvananthapuram

Legend traces Kashmir to king Yudhishtra of Mahabharata. Ancient Indian writer Kalhana mentions it in Rajatarangini. Kalhana's father Champaka was a Minister in the Court of Sri Harsha. It was Ashoka who founded the city of Srinagar. India was not politically one until the British rule. Independence brought Partition, and Kashmir acceded to India. India cannot afford to lose Kashmir.

Karavadi Raghava Rao,

Vijayawada

The Mahabharata says Arjuna conquered Kashmir. The Mauryas, the Guptas, emperor Harsha and the Mughals ruled the State. So it is wrong to say that Kashmir was never an integral part of India.

A.S. Narayan,

Bangalore

Although India was not politically unified till the British rule, it was the influence of our cultural bonding that made up the entire stretch that is known as India today. Emperor Kanishka ruled from what we call Afghanistan today. Whatever the past, we would do well to refrain from saying anything controversial on a sensitive issue such as Kashmir.

R. Sridhar,

Bangalore

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