Everything You Need To Know About

8 May 2024 : The Hindu Editorial Notes PDF

1. A dignified peaceful passing is everyone’s right

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Health
● The article provides a comparison between the end-of-life experiences of Ronald Reagan and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, highlighting the contrasting approaches to death in Western countries and India.

●  It discusses the prevalence of advanced medical directives, ethical concerns in Indian ICUs, legal ambiguities, and the importance of death literacy and palliative care.

● The role of living wills in facilitating end-of-life planning is emphasised to ensure individuals’ preferences are respected.

 Ronald Reagan’s Peaceful Passing

  • Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, passed away in 2004 at the age of 93 after battling dementia for nine years.
  • His wife, Nancy Reagan, described his peaceful death at home surrounded by family as “the greatest gift.”
  • Reagan’s decline due to dementia allowed his loved ones to prepare for his passing and accept the natural course of his illness.

Contrasting with Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Medical Journey

  • In contrast, former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee faced a different end.
  • Afflicted by a stroke nine years prior, he spent his final days in 2018 in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, reliant on artificial life support systems.
  • Vajpayee’s situation starkly contrasts Reagan’s, as he endured a prolonged period of non-ambulant existence, ultimately passing away while hooked to life support.

End-of-Life Care Trends: West vs. India

  • The approach to end-of-life care varies between Euro-American countries and India.
  • In Western nations, a growing number of individuals document advance medical directives, expressing preferences for a natural death when facing terminal illness.
  • Studies show that in European ICUs, only 10.3% of patients die while on life support, with the rest transitioning to palliative care for a dignified passing.

Indian Reality: ICU Deaths and Ethical Concerns

  • In India, however, approximately 70% of critically ill patients face death on life support systems, often alone in ICUs.
  • Families grapple with hefty hospital bills and lack time to grieve amidst the impersonal ICU environment.

Ethical Considerations and Legal Ambiguity

  • Despite the Indian Council of Medical Research’s definition of a healthcare provider’s duty to mitigate suffering, the reality in Indian ICUs diverges significantly.
  • The routinization of intensive care deaths, a relatively recent phenomenon, reflects a societal discomfort with death and a lack of preparedness to make informed end-of-life decisions.
  • The absence of clear legal frameworks exacerbates the situation, leaving both healthcare professionals and the public uncertain about their rights and responsibilities.

The Need for Death Literacy and Palliative Care

  • A 2022 Report of The Lancet Commission emphasizes the importance of ‘death literacy’ to empower individuals to navigate end-of-life decisions confidently.
  • Initiatives promoting palliative care, recognized as a fundamental aspect of the right to health by the World Health Organization, aim to ensure that individuals can live their final days with dignity and peace.

Role of Living Wills in End-of-Life Planning

  • The concept of a living will gains significance in facilitating end-of-life planning.
 What is a living will?
  • A living will is a legal document that outlines a person’s preferences for medical treatment in case they become incapacitated.
  • It specifies the type of medical care an individual wants or doesn’t want, such as life-sustaining treatments like CPR, ventilators, or feeding tubes.
  • It provides guidance to healthcare providers and family members about the individual’s wishes regarding end-of-life care.
  • A living will only become effective if the person is unable to communicate their desires due to illness or injury
  • It helps ensure that a person’s healthcare preferences are respected and followed, even if they are unable to express them themselves.
  • A living will allows individuals to outline their preferences for medical care in the event of incapacitation, ensuring their wishes are respected.
  • By preparing a living will, having it witnessed and countersigned by a gazetted officer, and discussing it with family members, individuals can assert their autonomy and ensure a peaceful passing aligned with their desires.

Conclusion: Advocating for Dignified End-of-Life Care

  • In conclusion, the contrasting experiences of Ronald Reagan and Atal Bihari Vajpayee underscore the importance of advocating for dignified end-of-life care.
  • By fostering death literacy, promoting palliative care, and facilitating the use of living wills, societies can empower individuals to assert their rights and preferences, ensuring that all can face death with dignity and peace.
Practice Question:  Discuss the disparities in end-of-life care between Western nations and India. Evaluate the ethical considerations, legal ambiguities, and societal factors influencing end-of-life decisions in India. Suggest measures to promote dignified end-of-life care and empower individuals to assert their rights in the face of terminal illness. (250 Words /15 marks)

2. Rules for a new dawn for the Indian legal industry

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity, GS2 – Governance
●  The article encapsulates India’s legal industry’s evolution amidst globalisation, particularly focusing on the Bar Council of India’s (BCI) regulations allowing foreign lawyers limited access.

●  It discusses the anticipated benefits, such as knowledge exchange and improved competition, alongside identified risks of regulatory disparities and market distortions.

The BCI’s consultative approach suggests a cautious optimism for the industry’s future.

 Background of Globalization and Indian Legal Industry

  • India embraced globalization in 1991, but its legal industry remained insulated.
  • The Bar Council of India (BCI) acknowledged the inevitability of globalisation in the legal sector.
The Bar Council of India (BCI)
● The Bar Council of India (BCI) is the regulatory body governing legal practice in India.

●  Established under the Advocates Act, 1961, it regulates legal education and professional conduct.

● BCI ensures standards for legal education, admission to the bar, and discipline among lawyers.

● It sets rules for ethics, qualifications, and examinations for advocates practising in India.

● BCI plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity and professionalism of the legal profession in the country.

 Globalization aims for universalism and synchronicity, facilitating harmonious interaction among legal professionals.

Bar Council of India’s Regulations for Foreign Lawyers

  • BCI introduced the “Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022” in 2023.
  • These rules permit foreign lawyers to establish offices in India for limited purposes, focusing on transactional or corporate work.
  • Foreign lawyers cannot appear in Indian courts but can advise and participate in international arbitrations held in India.

Evolution from Previous Restrictions

  • Previously, foreign lawyers were restricted to “fly in and fly out” arrangements and barred from practising law in India.
  • The BCI Rules signal a significant shift, allowing a greater role for foreign lawyers within a regulated framework.

Anticipated Benefits and Risks

  • While the BCI Rules may impact the immediate profitability of some Indian law firms, long-term benefits are expected.
  • Reciprocity provisions can enhance access for Indian lawyers to foreign jurisdictions, fostering knowledge exchange.
  • Increased competition from foreign firms may improve work culture, remuneration, and service quality in the Indian legal industry.
  • However, risks include regulatory disparities between Indian and foreign law firms, potential ethical conflicts, and financial disparities favouring foreign firms.

Balancing Optimism with Caution

  • The BCI demonstrates awareness of the pros and cons through stringent registration requirements and exclusion from litigious work.
  • Ongoing dialogue between the BCI and stakeholders indicates a cautious and consultative approach.
  • Careful optimism is warranted, with hopes that the BCI Rules will lead to a brighter future for the Indian legal industry.
PYQ: With reference to India, consider the following statements: (2022)

1.     Government law officers and legal firms are recognized as advocates, but corporate lawyers and patent attorneys are excluded from recognition as advocates.

2.     Bar Councils have the power to lay down the rules relating to legal education and recognition of law colleges.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer – B

Practice Question:  What are the implications of the Bar Council of India’s recent regulations allowing foreign lawyers into the Indian legal sector? (150 Words /10 marks)


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