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Savita Halappanavar: A Death That Woke Up A Nation

December 18, 2012 5 comments

While there is still a long-way for Irish abortion-law to travel, but the Irish Government has chosen an honorable course.

Ireland has a long history of being anti-colonial – having been a British colony and paid a price for the privilege of being a British colony. Like India, famine, death, oppression – the standard ingredients of colonialism were visited on Ireland, also.

India-Ireland nations go back some time. For instance, India legitimized the Irish Constitution when the Indian Constitution adopted the idea of Directive Principles of State Policy from the Irish Constitution.

While many in Indian media had doubts about Irish intentions, 2ndlook decided to reserve opinion. Unlike other cases of expat-Indian /NRI persecution, in the Savita Halappanavar case, there were no tweets, or posts by 2ndlook.

While there is still a long-way to travel, but the Irish Government has chosen an honorable course.

Ireland’s cabinet took the decision on Tuesday following a huge public outcry over the death of Savita Halappanavar, a pregnant woman in October who died after her repeated requests for an abortion were refused while she was suffering a miscarriage.

The Irish government has decided to repeal legislation that makes abortion a criminal act and to introduce regulations setting out when doctors can perform an abortion when a woman’s life is regarded as being at risk, including by suicide.

Dr James Reilly, the Irish health minister, said that the government was aware of the controversy surrounding abortion.

Ireland’s abortion laws are the strictest in Europe and any proposed legislation to decriminalise abortion will stoke furious debate in Ireland, which remains a staunchly Roman Catholic country.

Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister, said that draft legislation would be published in the New Year with a timetable of having the legislation ready by Easter.

To ensure the controversial law is passed the government whip would be applied to MPs in the ruling Fine Gael party which is deeply divided over the proposals. “There will be no free vote on this,” said Mr Kenny.

Under current Irish law abortion is criminal unless it occurs as the result of a medical intervention performed to save the life of the mother.

The new legislation will drafted to comply with a landmark ruling in the European Court of Human Rights two years ago and a 1992 Irish Supreme Court decision in the “X case”.

The Irish ruling 20 years ago overturned an injunction preventing a 14-year girl, who had been raped and was suicidal because she could not get a legal abortion, from travelling to Britain to have her pregnancy terminated.

She later had a miscarriage but her case did not lead to legal reform adding to confusion over when abortion was allowed in Ireland.

The reforms are expected to allow the fear of suicide as a ground for abortion but may not provide for rape or sexual abuse, neither of which formed part of the 1992 ruling.

The Indian government intervened in October after the death of Mrs Halappanavar, 31, originally from India, who was 17 weeks pregnant when she developed back pain and tests revealed that she would lose her baby.

via Ireland to legalise abortion – Telegraph.

I have deliberately chosen to use a British publication as my source – as this will reveal Western faultlines. Here is the case of

Savita Halappanavar, 31, originally from India, was 17 weeks pregnant when she developed back pain and tests revealed that she would lose her baby.

But despite her repeated pleas over three days, it emerged earlier this week that doctors refused to perform a termination as they could still hear the foetus’s heartbeat, reportedly telling her: “This is a Catholic country.”

Mrs Halappanavar’s condition rapidly deteriorated and she died after developing septicaemia four days after the death of her baby.

The case has prompted renewed calls for the Irish government to legislate for abortion, with pro-choice campaigners branding her death “an outrage”.

The Indian ambassador to Ireland, Debashish Chakravarti, has taken the concerns of his country about the death to the Irish government and said that he hopes measures will be put in place to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future.

He told the RTÉ, Ireland’s national broadcaster, that her death, which happened last month, was of “deep regret to the Indian people” and that he hoped the inquiry into the circumstances of the tragedy, would be conducted carefully but quickly.

He added that that the death was being taken with “great seriousness” in India and there was a lot of pain felt by the Irish Indian community.

According to the Irish Times, Mr Chakravarti refused to be comment on what the tragic incident said about Ireland as a state.

An inquiry into the death is being led by Ireland’s Health Service Executive’s (HSE) directof of quality and patient safety, Philip Crowley.

James Reilly, Ireland’s health minister, has also sought a report on the circumstances surrounding the tragedy and Galway University Hospital prepared to launch its own investigation.

via India confronts Irish government over woman denied abortion – Telegraph.

There will be strong opposition to this – apart from the Church. Other Western nations will try their best ensure that the Indian Government does not get any credit – for something the European Court of Justice  and the Irish Supreme Court could not do.

The Irish government has announced that it’s going to repeal existing legislation that makes an abortion a criminal offense and introduce regulations that say a doctor can perform an abortion if a woman’s life is regarded as being “at risk” – including if she’s “suicidal”. The semantics of “suicidal” are suspicious. This could turn in to the old “risk to the woman’s health” formula that many countries use and is vague enough to allow abortion on demand. Whatever the result, this is a watershed moment for Ireland. Its political establishment has distanced itself from the country’s Catholic heritage and from the pro-life tradition. Taoiseach Enda Kenny fancies himself as a new Luther.

A few immediate observations. First, the catalyst for this reform was the story of Savita Halappanavar, a woman who went to hospital suffering from a miscarriage, was denied a termination, and later died. Pro-abortion campaigners have used her case to claim that Ireland’s laws kill – that the refusal of an abortion on the grounds of Catholic chauvinism led directly to her passing. But the facts of the case are not that certain. Ireland does theoretically allow abortion under certain cases when the mother’s life is at risk, and it’s not even clear that a termination would have saved Savita’s life. Worryingly, pro-abortion activists had access to the details of her case before they were released by the press. It smacks of politicising a tragedy for the sake of change – and it seems to have worked.

Second, Ireland is changing – or, at least, its establishment is. In previous years, Enda Kenny would have been taking a big risk doing this. During the 2011 election, his party said that it opposed the legalisation of abortion, in deference to Ireland’s Catholic culture. Not only has he U-turned on that, but he’s also said that he won’t allow his party a free vote on the subject. Nor presumably will there be a referendum – a great Irish tradition whereby the political class tries to liberalise the country by decree and then the people vote it down. Kenny – conservative in the same way that David Cameron and Ted Kennedy are conservatives – has tried to define himself as a modernising Prime Minister who will drag his country into the bright future of sexual liberation and a Church decoupled from government. In the past that would have left him politically vulnerable to Ireland’s fair-weather populism. We might have expected Fianna Fail (which is rebounding in the polls) to exploit the switch and challenge him on it. But, this time around, FF is broadly in favour of reform, too. All the mainstream parties are gambling that Ireland has become far more liberal and a lot less Catholic

Any credible opposition will come not from within the Dail but from outside, from the Catholic Church and the large (and rather youthful) pro-life lobby. And so, for the first time in a very long time, we’re set for a serious war between Ireland’s political establishment and its dwindling Catholic faithful.

via Ireland is gearing up for a war between Church and state over abortion – Telegraph Blogs.

Another voice of darkness chimes in with her political baggage.

It took the death of a young mother-to-be to rip up the Irish abortion law.

Savita Halappanavar was pregnant and suffering a miscarriage.

I’m a Catholic but I believe abortion has to be legal. Yes, it is a sin; and yes, there are women who use it as contraception. But the risk of having a long roll call of tragic deaths like Savita’s is too cruel to contemplate. Like divorce, abortion should be available, but reserved as a last-resort nuclear option – and when the mother’s life is in danger is precisely such a scenario.

The Irish U-turn over Savita’s death worries me, though. Is this the right result based on the wrong premise?

I can’t help wondering whether Savita’s tragedy has been used to manipulate public opinion. This does not make her fate any less tragic; it does however raise questions about campaigners blinded by pro-abortion fervour.

via Is Ireland’s abortion U-turn based on a mistake? – Telegraph Blogs.

Between now and Easter is a long time.

The Irish Government will face tremendous pressure in the West. Not based on merits – but on politics. Remember this law is not being changed due to the death of an American woman; or a British citizen. Change in Irish law due to death of a Franco-German tourist could have been acceptable.

How can a Western country, part of EU change laws at the behest of the Indian Government? Due to the death of an Indian women?

But this case may turn out to be like South Africa’s apartheid, where the Indian Government forced a reluctant West to accept sanctions against S.Africa. The global boycott, led by India, made the end of apartheid possible.

After thirty years, India has made it possible to end oppressive Church laws. Full marks to the Irish and Indian governments.

And Godspeed!


The Curious Case of the Bloated State

May 15, 2011 4 comments

A distinct feature of the developed world is the size of the bureaucracy and State employment. Fully 10% to as high as 30% of the labour force depend on the State for income and employment.

Iceberg ahoy!

With ‘advanced’ EU countries like Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain, (PIGS) on the verge of bankruptcy, strangely mainstream media is silent on the important aspects of this crisis.

The mammaries of the Welfare State?     If everyone is part of the Government, who will you tax?

The mammaries of the Welfare State? If everyone is part of the Government, who will you tax?

Overpaid public servants

Critics, however, are also questioning the present government’s decision not to touch civil service pay and pension. The civil service, apart from the bureaucracy, also includes health service and education administrators etc. As a group, this has over 300,000 members and a massive vote bank no government wishes to antagonise, least of all a very unpopular coalition government led by the Fianna Fail party. In 2002, the government had agreed to massive rescaling of civil service pay and pension benchmarking it on private sector scales. Today despite a fall in private sector pay, government servants have managed to stick to their higher salaries, which some today estimate is 30 per cent above their private sector counterparts.

Ireland is a 4.5-million strong country which is about one-fourth the size of the National Capital Region in India. Its economy is primarily supported by exports, which today accounts for 80 per cent of its GDP. Information technology and pharmaceutical industries are the largest exporters from Ireland. Ireland incidentally also has the largest number of US FDA-approved plants outside the US. Food, retail and logistics also account for a sizeable portion of its export today. (via Exporting out of the mess).

This economic model needs a perpetual supply of victims to support this bureaucracy. | Cartoon by Bill Day; courtesy - cagle.com| Click for larger image.

This economic model needs a perpetual supply of victims to support this bureaucracy. | Cartoon by Bill Day; courtesy – cagle.com| Click for larger image.

Irish cream

Ireland is truly a remarkable case.

In a country of 45 lakhs, an estimated 69% are in the 15-64 years of employable age – leaving us with a workforce of 30 lakhs people. Of these 30 lakh people some 3 lakhs are highly paid government employees – fully 10% of the Irish workforce is in the Government.

With such a bloated bureaucracy, apart from bankruptcy, what else can happen in Ireland? Is Ireland an exception?

Is the situation different in other countries?

The coming storm

Let us look at 3 countries (UK, USA, India) which for the time being are not in the ‘bankrupt’ position.

A look at British situation is revealing. The size of the British public sector is “6.1 million people on the state payroll, (and) an increase of about 900,000 in 13 years.” From a working population of some 30 million, and total population of some 60 million.

Faceless bureaucrats who devise wars, famines, disease to keep their jobs | Cartoon by Clay Bennett | Courtesy - claybennett.com | Click for larger picture.

Faceless bureaucrats who devise wars, famines, disease to keep their jobs | Cartoon by Clay Bennett | Courtesy – claybennett.com | Click for larger picture.

 For every four private sector employee, there is one public-sector employee.

That is the British situation for you.

In the land of the free enterprise?

How about the US?

Surely, the land of free enterprise, free markets, has to be different.

The estimated gross US labour force for 2010 is 15.4 crores. US Government – local, state and federal, has some 2.0 crore (20 million) employees. And we are not talking of contract staff in the US Govt. who are off-rolls. Experts worry about

the 10.5 million federal contractors and grantees the government’s “hidden workforce” because politicians tend not to mention them when discussing the size of the federal bureaucracy. Yet such workers absorbed nearly $400 billion in federal contracting funds and $100 billion in federal grants in 2005. They often performed vital work such as researching new vaccines, running federal computer systems and making body armor, weapons and meals for the military.

The number of civil servants is increasing, too, up 54,000 since 2002 to 1.9 million workers. That is still fewer than the 2.2 million civil servants on the federal payroll in 1990, at the end of the Cold War.

Doors shut, minds closed, opportunities lost, lives destroyed. The Bloated State | Cartoon by Clay Bennett | Click for larger image.

Doors shut, minds closed, opportunities lost, lives destroyed. The Bloated State | Cartoon by Clay Bennett | Click for larger image.

To this figure now add unemployed people – who are also State responsibility – part of the public sector. US unemployment is running

at 9 percent, well above historical norms, with about 14 million Americans looking for work. Those figures don’t tell the whole story. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says more than 8 million people are working part-time but would rather be working full-time.

We are sitting at a total of 4.4 crore people from a labour force of 15.4 crores.

Nearly 29% of the labour force is used and paid by the US State.

Aha .. Where is India?

Examining India shows a vastly different picture.

A report on Indian bureaucracy reveals

The size of government employment is not that large. On 31 March 2005, total public sector employment was 18 million, divided into 3 million for the central government, 7.2 million for the state governments, 5.7 million for quasi-government and 2 million for local bodies. With an estimated labour force of 420 million in 2004-05, government employment thus accounts for 4.1 percent of total employment within the country.

One small guy against a huge bureaucracy - bought, paid and controlled by the powerful few | Cartoonist - Jim Morin | Click for larger image.

One small guy against a huge bureaucracy – bought, paid and controlled by the powerful few | Cartoonist – Jim Morin | Click for larger image.

The Indian figure includes the railways, which the world’s single largest, employer, all the public sector corporations (like banks, govt. telecom companies,  etc.).

Global disease

A bloated State, over-sized bureaucracy that controls every aspect of our life. On one side, these States speak of freedom,  liberty, human rights. The reality is increasing prison populations and an expanding police State.

Fundamentally, the country model of the West has failed – and the time for भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra draws near. In the last 200 years, भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra has gone into regression. But, in this period, the world has also learnt more about the limitations of the Desert Bloc ideology.

People get ready!


Europe’s Probable Fall

November 22, 2010 27 comments

 

Europe's Titanic ego problem - May 10, 2010, at 06.27 PM (Cartoonist-Cam Cardow, copyright 2010 Cagle Cartoons; courtesy - theweek.com.). Click for larger image.

Europe's Titanic ego problem - May 10, 2010, at 06.27 PM (Cartoonist-Cam Cardow, copyright 2010 Cagle Cartoons; courtesy - caglecartoons.com.). Click for larger image.

The success of Europe is considerable, but must not be exaggerated. There are still problems, including poverty to cite only one example, several million children in the UK suffer from malnutrition. While Europe has succeeded in attracting new members, it has not been successful in integrating its new immigrant populations. The European project is being tested by the lack of success of the Lisbon treaty.

The problem, however, is that while the peace will probably last another major European war is a very unlikely scenario the prosperity may not.

The choice is basically as follows. By accepting reform and the need for some sacrifices, the European fall will occur, but it will be reasonably gentle and gradual. By refusing to reform and rejecting sacrifice, Europe’s fall will be precipitate. At the moment, unfortunately, the more likely scenario is the second one. (read more via Europe’s Probable Fall – The Times of India).

A culture of entitlement has robbed European society of its vitality. The writer feels that Europe can choose how it will decline. Gradually and gently. Otherwise, precipitate – sudden, visible, maybe violent. I am being gentle by call it decline. Lehman says it is fall. No less.

Cartoon from timeesofindia.com). Publication date - 16th November 2010.

Cartoon from timeesofindia.com). Publication date - 16th November 2010.

Probably, many in India and the Indians abroad, the RNIs and the NRIs, brought up on the milk of Western superiority will mourn the passing away of their ‘dream’. I am sure they will quickly find some other ‘superior’ culture for loyalties.

The dream is dead. Long live the dream.

The Failure of the Nation-State

November 6, 2009 Leave a comment
Divide et impera (Cartoonist - Paresh).

Divide et impera (Cartoonist - Paresh).

Divide et impera

Vietnam suffered from a prolonged war (1956-1976) – and finally peace had a chance after 20 years of war. Korea remains divided. The Cyprus problem between Turkey, Greece and the Cypriots has been simmering for nearly 100 years.

The role of the Anglo Saxon Bloc, in Indonesia, the overthrow of Sukarno, installation of Suharto and finally the secession of East Timor is another excellent example. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict (1935 onwards) will soon enter its 75th year. The entire Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a creation of the Anglo-French-American axis. The many other issues in the West Asia and Africa are living testimony of the Western gift to the modern world.

The track record

Closer home is the Kashmir problem. After 60 years of negotiations, India-Pakistan relations have remained hostage to the Kashmir issue. Similarly, between China and India, the border issues remain 60 years after the eviction of Britain from India.

The Anglo-Saxon habit of partitioning countries is a disaster!

  1. Cyprus between Greece and Turkey
  2. Israel between Palestine, Jordan and Syria
  3. Chinese Singapore in Malaysia
  4. Northern Ireland out of Ireland
  5. Two Koreas
  6. Taiwan and China

and of course a Pakistan out of India.

With a benign, ‘democratic’ dictator like Lee Kuan Yew, in the frame, the Singapore out of Malaysia is too small and too short-term a success to make any impact. The other thing is the Western ‘nation’ model has been a huge failure. How many countries have been successful in this quest for ‘nationhood’?

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