Judges say medical evidence suggests 60-year-old nurse need not be allowed to die. However, court explains that life support can be legally removed for some terminally ill patients in exceptional cases
New Delhi: In a keenly-awaited verdict, the Supreme Court today dismissed a euthanasia plea on behalf of a 60-year-old nurse, living in a vegetative state after a brutal sexual assault at work, 37 years ago.
Judges Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra dismissed the petition filed on behalf of KEM Hospital nurse Aruna Shanbaug, saying that while active euthanasia (mercy killing) was illegal, yet "passive euthanasia" can be permissible in exceptional circumstances. The apex court said that as per the facts and circumstances of Ms Shanbaug's case, medical evidence and other material suggest that the victim need not be subjected to euthanasia, reports PTI.
The bench, however, said that since there is no law presently in the country on euthanasia, mercy killing of terminally ill patient "under passive euthanasia doctrine can be resorted to in exceptional cases". The bench clarified that until Parliament enacts a law, its judgement on active and passive euthanasia will be in force.
Ms Shanbaug, who is now nearly 60 years old, slipped into a coma after a brutal attack on her by a staffer at Mumbai's King Edward Memorial Hospital, on 27 November 1973.
The plea for the mercy killing was made by writer Pinki Virani, who told the court in her petition that the nurse slipped into coma after she was attacked by a sweeper who wrapped a dog chain around her neck and yanked the victim with it. Ms Virani said that due to strangulation by the chain, the supply of oxygen to the brain stopped and the cortex got damaged. She also had brain stem contusion injury associated with cervical cord injury.
According to the petitioner, in the last 37 years after the incident, Ms Shanbaug has become "featherweight" and her bones are brittle. She is prone to bed sores. Her wrists are twisted inward, teeth have decayed and she can only be given mashed food on which she survives, Ms Virani said.
She stated that Ms Shanbaug is in a persistent vegetative state, her brain is virtually dead and she is oblivious to the outside world. She can neither see nor hear anything, nor can she express herself or communicate in any manner, whatsoever, Ms Virani said in her petition.
The bench had reserved its verdict on the plea for mercy killing after hearing detailed arguments by various parties on the matter of allowing euthanasia. Among the counsels who made submissions on the controversial issue were attorney general GE Vahanvati, amicus curiae TR Andhyarujina, Ballabh Sisodia for the hospital and Shekhar Naphade, who appeared for the petitioner and Ms Virani.
During the arguments, the government took the stand that there is no provision either under the statute or the Constitution to permit euthanasia. Mr Sisodia opposed the plea contending that the hospital staff, particularly the nurses and the doctors, have been taking "dedicated care" of Ms Shanbaug for the past 37 years and they were opposed to allowing the plea for mercy killing.
When the iPad was launched in 2010, Apple gave a boost to the tablet genre. The second generation iPad 2 helps consolidate Apple’s leadership in this space. Unfortunately, this move also reaffirms Apple’s shoddy treatment of the Indian market, where it has consistently sold obsolescence at a premium
Last year Apple helped computing take a leap into the unknown with its sleek little device called the iPad. A new genre was born as the innovation leader in computing heralded the dawn of an era, known informally as the 'post-PC' era. While the second generation device- the iPad 2-does not mark a quantum leap forward, it has clearly stretched the envelope and made it harder for an already struggling mass of competitors to play catch up.
Somewhere on the East Coast of the United States of America, one of Apple's many cult-like followers will lay her hand on the second-generation tablet from the iconic technology company, when the cuckoo sings on the midnight hour of 11th March. As usual, what will follow is a mad frenzy to be among the first to lay their hands on one of these envied gizmos.
The fact that the man at the centre of it all, Steve Jobs, made an appearance to show off the new device has only helped add to the buzz. On our shores though, the last generation iPad was just launched a few weeks ago to an understandably lukewarm response. Apple, it seems, continues to ignore the potential of the Indian consumer at its own peril. Android-based devices will corner a lion's share of the growing space in this emerging market, at least for now.
Apple has indeed made some cool updates to the much touted tab. For starters, the 1GHz Dual Core A5 is a much faster processor compared to its ancestor from last year, while packing far more than the 256MB internal memory in the first version. It is lighter too by 90 grams, down to 590 from the earlier 680 without compromising on the legendary 10-hour battery life and a month on standby. That should count as an incredible achievement for the design team, considering that the iPad 2 has cut its flab by a third-the new pad is 33% slimmer at 8.8mm down from the earlier 13.4mm. Incredibly, that leaves the iPad 2 slimmer than the iPhone 4 which measures 9.3mm.
Jobs could not betray his sense of pride, when he announced that the iPad 2 clocks graphics nine times faster than the first edition-his fraternal joy no doubt multiplied in the knowledge that most of his audience use the device for gaming and media applications. The quality of their experience is set to improve substantially with the iPad 2. The newly released iOS 4.3 and the dual core processor will make the iPad twice as faster as the previous version.
However, the designers left improvements to the display for a future release-the new device comes with the same 9.7" 1024x768 screen, as in the previous one. For those who were eagerly expecting the iPhone 4's industry-leading retina-style display will just have to live with the disappointment. In a clear signal about Apple's willingness to listen to its users, the button on the side which was used to mute the iPad can now be set to preference-it can be used to lock orientation or mute the device, based on the individual's choice.
Apple fans will cheer the arrival of the classic white variant as the iPad 2 will now be available in both black and white. It has a variant each with 16/32/64GB capacity in the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G options in the price range of $499 to $829. All of this makes it tougher for competition to gain respect and market share-not one has the package to tame Apple in the hardware stakes.
There are a few things though that the iPad 2 just cannot deal with, leaving room for competitors to scramble back to their drawing boards in an attempt to stall the sweeping domination of Apple.
Once again with the iOS 4.3 that runs on the iPad 2, Flash is not supported, unlike in competing platforms such as Google's Android Honeycomb, RIM's QNX or the WebOS. Microsoft is also understood to be working on a tablet version of Windows 7, but a release isn't due until 2012.
Another area where Apple does not measure up well against competition is in the cameras installed on these devices. The iPad 2 does have dual cameras allowing the use of face time between two pads, but the specs are rather lame-a 720p VGA camera and 0.7 megapixel (mp) rear camera can barely compete with the 5-8 megapixel cameras in competing tablets. For instance, Motorola Xoom offers two cameras, one 5mp and the other 3mp.
An interesting little detail that Apple conveniently ignores is discussing the internal memory -it is understood that the iPad 2 has a 512MB memory; but there is no official word on this from the iconic company. While some may argue that Apple is hiding conveniently since competitors offer 1GB of RAM, the company would like to pick the thread here and run in a new direction to redefine the conversation.
Even as it soars higher and away from its competition, Apple is seeking to frame the rules of engagement-ensuring that the battle this time is not on specs but on experience and the ecosystem. At last count, there were over 300,000 apps that synch with Apple devices, while competition struggles to get the app count past a few thousand at best.
The prolific use of apps is enabling Apple to stay ahead of the curve, at least in the device space. According to Internet market research firm eMarketer, of the 15.7 million tablets sold in 2010, Apple sold over 14.9 million devices, leaving the competition to deal in crumbs. It is Apple's turn to dominate the post-PC era and pay back its competitors in kind for the isolation Apple suffered during the 'PC-era' (between 1981 and 2009).
According to estimates by eMarketer, tablet sales are expected to grow 400% from 15.7 million last year to 81.3 million units in 2012. In a bold prediction, Apple is expected to corner 69% of the 43.6 million tablets that are estimated to sell in 2011. It is believed that iPad 2 will sell in excess of 20 million units just in the US. In order to overcome the skewed distribution of market share, Google will have to find a way not only to nourish the Android ecosystem, but also find ways to ensure that apps work consistently across the different devices that run the Android operating system. Google's success in this endeavour will determine if competitors can thrive in the tablet space or cede it permanently to Apple.
For all its dominance in the first world, it appears that Apple is getting its strategy terribly wrong in developing markets such as India. The iPad was launched in India barely a few weeks ago following a consistent pattern of dumping the obsolete last generation product on India at a premium price, just weeks before the international launch of the newest product. It has happened with the iPod, iPhone and now the iPad. Apple's partners in India Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar are still selling the previous versions of the Apple phone, the 3G and 3GS.
Meanwhile Notion Ink, India's leading tablet maker, has received a decent response to the launch of 'Adam', which has been on sale since December 2010. The Adam is a comparable device with the iPad 2 except that it is a much thicker tablet at 14mm. There is also a slew of competitive products that Apple needs to deal with in the immediate future-Playbook from RIM (BlackBerry), Xoom from Motorola, Optimus from LG, TouchPad from HP and the second generation Galaxy Tab from Samsung-are all fighting hard to carve a niche alongside the iPad.
The post-PC era has widespread ramifications to the media, telecommunications and logistics industries, besides applications in the education and manufacturing sectors. The iPad and Galaxy Tab have found their way into media production and advertising offices, with people harnessing its mobility to showcase their creative skills.
Print and visual media companies have started to put together a coherent strategy to optimise their communication to the tablet form. BBC and CNN have shown the way internationally with their tablet apps. In the Indian context NDTV has assumed leadership, by being the first Indian channel to translate its content to work on the tablet. The print media cannot be too far behind, given that major international publications such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have content optimised for the tablet. The media giant Rupert Murdoch has launched an iPad-specific publication to serve notice of the emerging trend in the publishing space.
The professionals in the highly fragmented advertising medium are gaga over developing promotions aimed specifically at the growing numbers of tablet consumers. FedEx and DHL, which thrive on the promptness of their deliveries, have applications that can run on the tablet enabling their operations staff to stay on top of the game, independent of their physical co-ordinates. The iPad has also made its way to the shop-floor of high-end automobile manufacturers, who are using it review design & development while on the move. Another area where the tablet may find democratic application and cause social transformation is in the education sector-especially in the developing world.
While the hardware battle is firmly with Apple for the moment, there are clear signs of the plates shifting underneath the deceptively calm surface. In a recent survey conducted by Nielsen in the USA, Android (29%) has pulled ahead of iOS (27%) and RIM BlackBerry (27%) in the battle for the most acclaimed operating system. The one big advantage for Android is its application across device manufacturers, unlike iOS and RIM which are directly dependent on the success of their proprietary devices. In fact, Android has grown by almost 50% over the past year, while iOS and RIM have only seen a marginal shift in their market share.
The tablet space offers a great new opportunity to India's leading Internet Service Providers (as per ISPAI)-BSNL (58%), MTNL (14%), Bharti Airtel (8%), Reliance Communications (8%) and Hathway (2%)-to bundle a package of communication and entertainment offers that could enable tablet users to stay informed, connected and entertained while on the move. The arrival of 3G will only add to the experience of their users and help companies secure a strong stream of future revenues built on content and form specific advertising.
Irrespective of industry, the tablet is one trend that just cannot be ignored. It promises to be the computing and entertainment device of the future alongside the smart phone. And till competition catches up, Apple will continue to milk the tablet market and grab an unfair share of the headlines and revenues.
Dr Manmohan Singh said appointing PJ Thomas as CVC was an error of judgement on his part and he accepts full responsibility for it.
New Delhi: Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Monday termed as an "error of judgement" the appointment of PJ Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) and told the Lok Sabha that he accepts "full responsibility" for it, reports PTI.
Left parties were not satisfied and staged a walkout. "I have no hesitation in repeating what I said in Jammu. Obviously, there was an error of judgement. I accept full responsibility for it," Dr Singh said.
He stated this when Opposition created an uproar after his suo motu statement had no mention about responsibility and contained only the sequence of events beginning from the appointment of Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner and its annulment by the Supreme Court last week.
In his statement, Dr Singh said, "We accept and respect the verdict of the Supreme Court and that the government would take into consideration the guidelines/directions given by the court while appointing a new CVC.
He noted that the meeting of the committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and Leader of the Opposition to choose the CVC took place on September 3 last year and recommended the name of Mr Thomas for the post.
Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj gave a dissenting note, Dr Singh recalled.
After Mr Thomas' appointment, two public interest litigation petitions were filed in the Supreme Court challenging the appointment and the court quashed it, he said.
As he sat down after reading out the statement, the Opposition members were not satisfied.
Ms Swaraj said she was "surprised" that the Prime Minister had not said even what he had stated in Jammu about owning up responsibility for the CVC appointment.
"I was expecting you to repeat at least what you said in Jammu," she said amid chants of 'shame shame' by BJP members.
Left parties were not satisfied by the Prime Minister's contention that it was an "error of judgement". Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) wanted to know how it happened. Finally, the Left members staged a walkout.