I admit that I have not been a regular follower of the case of Dr Amit Kumar, the Indian doctor-cum-kidney kingpin who is wanted in five Indian states for illegal kidney operations (in a nutshell, his business allegedly involved holding unwilling peasants at gunpoint, forcibly leaving them with no chance but to part with their kidneys, as well as the lure of poor peasants with ‘high-paying jobs’, only for them to find out later what it entails)What really caught my eye in the front-page article on The New Paper yesterday (9 Feb 08), was the ludicrous manner of how Dr Kumar gave his name away. Don’t get me wrong, it is great that he got arrested as it’d probably mean a giant step forward in the investigations in putting a halt to all these illegal operations. It is just that I am amazed by the sheer absurdity over the nature of his arrest.

It is absolutely laughable. Apparently, even being in this desolate jungle resort somewhere in the Himalayas away from his home, his family and erm… kidneys, his survival instincts does not exactly involve lying low, as he capers with eagerness to “know how the local press was reporting his case”.

Wearing a hat and sunglasses as a form of disguise (which itself ought to ring alarm bells as I doubt anybody will actually wear a hat and sunglasses in a hotel lobby in the Himalayas; where did he think he was, in Phuket?), he borrowed the Himalayan Times from the hotel front desk to pore over the news, promptly clipped the front-page story on the global manhunt for him, before returning the tampered copy to the front desk clerk whose suspicions got aroused and called the police. (The story goes on – upon his arrest, he attempted to bribe his way out..)

What baffles me is the entire absurdity that with all his riches (and doctor certification to boot), he did not have the sense to purchase his own newspaper copy which he could have the freeplay to do whatever he’d like to it. Probably working with the assumption that other people do not have their own minds and observations?

On a heavier note, the flourishing kidney trade around the world is something which ought to be urgently looked into by governments of nations where such illegal trades are rampant. The dangerous nature of the work aside, as it may very well lead to complications due to improper sanitation and processes (An assumption made here, but seriously, how clean can a back alley operation be?), there are several other questions to be asked. What sort of human rights are being advocated when its own people are being forced into operations which they want no part of in the first place, by people who are attempting to take the law in their own hands? What sort of economy is being set in place when this scam will play a role in the whole ‘rich-become-richer, poor-become-poorer’ situation? What sort of healthcare services are being implemented when nothing much is being done to tackle the demand for organs when it blatantly does not meet the supply – I’m sure dangling health incentives and benefits such that people will willingly donate are some possibilities to look at into curbing the problem?

*Written by aR

Global Mayhem

February 8, 2008

Call me a cynic if you want, but I believe that the disastrous snowstorms which have plagued China for the past three weeks or so is a sign of worst things to come (of course, in addition to the floods in Indonesia, the droughts and famines and unusually dry weather in countries around the world as well). Such incidents, while setting records of the worst “snowstorm in history” should act as a grave reminder to people how much, and how quickly, they have been tapping the resources from the Earth without making much of an effort to contribute back.

The ‘Live! Earth’ concert last year, as well as Anya Hindmarch‘s “I Am Not A Plastic Bag” bag becoming a fashion statement of some sorts, do little to remind people of the potential trouble the environment is in. Not when political leaders are jetting off to environmental conferences through environmentally-unfriendly functions such as private jets. Not when the impact of the message will never really sink in on many myopic people around the world until the effects are really felt. Though at the end of the day, there will be sceptics around proclaiming that all those environmentalists are trying to brew up a storm of their own by creating a lot of hoohaa out of nothing in particular.

The concert and the bag remains nothing more than entertainment. Have they really changed the world?

In the midst of all the trouble the Chinese are going through, and amidst all my sympathy I have for the Chinese workers stranded in the city, unable to rush back to their rural homes to rejoin their families for the Chinese tradition of reunion dinner as well as Chinese New Year, I urge everyone to take a step back to rethink how every minute action everyone has taken may have led to the above crises.

It may not be major things like air pollution, or The Three Gorges Dam Project (which incidentally is an environmental disaster and is a project the Chinese government has championed for so strongly). Every little thing counts – every piece of paper unrecycled, every bit of electricity wastefully depleted.

The globe does not protest out of nothing. If we don’t watch our backs, “The Day After Tomorrow” will creep up on us unknowingly.

*Written by aR