After setting a sterling example by donating his own blood for re-launching the Asian organ donation agency in AIIMS, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan is convinced that his example will set off a revolution in India.
“I am convinced now that Indian society is ready for a revolution in so far as organ donation and transplantation are concerned. It is my job as Minister to make it work on the ground,” he was quoted as saying.
On his part the minister is taking all steps to see that India does not lag behind in this vital field. He has declared that the Safdarjung Hospital will house the first National Organ &Tissue Transplantation Organisation (NOTTO) Soon public institutions will make possible for speedy and effective distribution of kidneys, hearts, lungs, bones, tissues, cornea, skin and cells at token cost to those who can pay and free to the poor,” he declared grandly.
One can only call this a day dream. For one, politicians don’t inspire revolutions in India today. They are the lowest on the list of idols that the people would like to emulate. Celebrities much better known than him have been used as brand ambassadors for donating eyes. However, the record unfortunately on this front remains dismal. Even a small country like Sri Lanka has a better track record than us.
In India people of all faiths are very touchy about the bodies of their near and dear after death. Call it superstition or belief in re-incarnation, we celebrate the death of the elderly in the family because we believe that the body has set the Atma free. No one would like to mutilate or disfigure a dead body deliberately.
Yes, we do have the story of Dadheechi who donated his body to make arms to fight the Asurs (Devils) in the fight between the Gods and the Devils. But he remains the lone example in Indian mythology. No wonder the Asian donor registry that Dr.Harshvardhan re-launched had been launched in 1994 in association with Dadhichi Deh Dan Samiti. But in ten years this agency has only 3,925 donors who have registered with it.
There are times when politicians or netas do become heroes for the masses but those are extra- ordinary times. In the 1965 war then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri asked people to observe a fast once a week and not to use cereals on Mondays. This became a national obsession. India’s pride and self-respect had been hurt because the US was threatening to stop the supply of wheat to India because India had, for the first time, breached the Indo-Pak border to punish the infiltrators.
Indira Gandhi was also in that exalted position in 1971 when during a war with Pakistan even Atal Behari Vajpayee had hailed her as ‘Durga.’ But unfortunately the war ended in flat 18 days even before we could roll up our sleeves.
But war is always an extra ordinary situation that brings out the most unexpected from the people. Unfortunately, a war is no where on the radar right now and that is why I don’t see a revolution of any kind breaking out right away.
By: Amitabh Srivastava
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