A day when there is nothing special to report on allows for a good debate on something much more relevant and important!
A few days back, the President of India finally rejected the mercy petitions of two criminals who had been sentenced to death by the Supreme Court many years back. As is usual in
, every decision spurs a heated debate in the media and so did this one. The BJP accused the Congress on not deciding quickly on Afzal Guru though it was unable to explain why its own government did not reject any mercy petitions in the six years it ruled. Like everything else in India , even capital punishment is an intensely political subject! India
Frankly, I think it’s a demonic act on the part of any government or country to kill someone. Even if that person is guilty of the most gory of crimes. The key point here is about whether a country has the right to take someone’s life away. And a related point is whether the tit-for-tat principle should be adopted at all in these matters. Admittedly, murder, terrorism, treason and the like are very serious offences and affect ordinary peace loving people.....but is killing them at all within the powers a government should have? There is also the question of morality here. Who is man to decide when a person’s life should be taken away? Hasn’t society given that task to God? Can man decide to assume the role of God at all? Because that’s what man does when he/she decides for or against capital punishment. By acting now.....after so many years of waiting.....the President has acted like God and ordered execution for two people. Equally, by not taking a decision on several others.....she has again acted as God. Who gave ordinary human beings the right to behave like God?
Just look at the countries actively practicing capital punishment. Based on 2010 executions, the list includes
China (2000+ executions in 2010), Iran (252), North Korea (60), US (46), Saudi Arabia (27), Libya (18), Syria (17) and (9). Except for the Bangladesh , which of these countries inspires us to be like them? Most of these countries are notorious in any case. Many of them..... US Iran, North Korea, ......actually allow public execution. What kind of system is this? Is Saudi Arabia China going to be the inspiration for in this regard? Everyone knows of the opaque justice system in that country. How do we even know that those killed deserved to be killed? Now look at countries that have legally abolished capital punishment. Or have stopped capital punishment in practice even though the actual abolition is still to happen. This list includes all the liberal countries in the world. All of Europe (except tiny India Belarus), Australia, NZ, almost all of Latin America, South Africa.....this is the list of countries I would like to see in. The India US is an anomaly.....but the is an anomaly in so many things. It’s the only liberal country that allows its citizens extremely easy access to guns....which other civilized country allows this? In this one instance, I would rather avoid the example of the US rather than follow it. US
One of the main reasons why capital punishment is practiced is that it is supposed to be a strong deterrent against crime. But statistics shows that if this is true at all, it is only if death is CERTAIN in all cases of conviction. In most countries that allow capital punishment, capital punishment is rarely used and hence there is very little co relationship with lower crime rates. Just look at the
. In many ways, the US is the where maximum crime happens. US
Life imprisonment is a strong enough sentence to be awarded in most crimes. In many ways, life imprisonment is a worse punishment than instant death. Just look at how suicide bombers are growing in numbers. What motivates them is the relatively peaceful end to their lives rather than living a life of continuous violence and hatred. Life imprisonment is as strong a deterrence as death itself is. Who wants to spend his life in the kind of jails we have in
! Of course, the flip side is that keeping a prisoner jailed for his entire life is an expensive proposition. This argument is not true in the case of India , where in any case, there are very few executions. That cost of holding prisoners is already being incurred. India
Instead, countries must work together at allowing Euthanasia. Or mercy killing. Terminal patients who suffer relentlessly should be allowed to die as peacefully as possible. Of course, it’s a huge challenge in a country like
to allow euthanasia. Our religious scriptures clearly don’t allow it. Our societal structures are such that many children would be tempted to inflict euthanasia on their parents to inherit the wealth quickly. These are complications in India . But I think the western world is ready for euthanasia. India
The real truth is that
is a liberal country and it must be seen in the company of other liberal countries. We are not like India China or . Human life has value in our country. We must abolish capital punishment. Even the UN has passed a resolution in 2008 calling for a global moratorium on executions with a view to eventual abolition. Iran India along with China, Indonesia and the voted against it. We must reverse this decision of ours..... US