Bioethics in India: Proceedings of the International Bioethics Workshop in Madras: Biomanagement of Biogeoresources, 16-19 Jan. 1997, University of Madras; Editors: Jayapaul Azariah, Hilda Azariah, & Darryl R.J. Macer, Copyright Eubios Ethics Institute 1997.

About the Workshop cum Seminar

Bioethics For Enhanced Sustainability

The workshop cum Seminar on Bioethics is a workshop with a difference and it is new to India. It is of the 21st century. To perceive the difference one must understand the meaning of the word "Bioethics". It refers to the right and wrong in life; the good and bad or simply the love of life (EUBIOS = more abundant life; Eu = more, Bios = life) which makes us to seek after what is good and right and proper life. This makes life lovable and pleasant to live with people and in harmony with the environment. This is total Bioethics.

It is perhaps the first time in Indian history that Philosophers, Poets, Technologists, Scientists, Legal experts, Physicians, Public Administrators, Historians, Educationalists, Economists, Environmentalists, Marine Biologists, Theologians, Anthropologists, Non Governmental Organizations, Sociologists and Chemists are thinking together under the one roof of Bioethics. In this important event we have the presentation of views from different religions too. Our concern is that in such a diversity in human thinking and thought process, there should be stability. James Lovelock exhorted as that we must rise above dogma, scientific or religious and look down to see and cherish a most seemly earth. We should learn to respect each others views.

The foundations of Bioethics should enable us to build a good and proper moral basis for enhanced Sustainability of Biogeoresources namely 1. Natural resource - i. Renewable, ii. Non renewable, 2. Man made resources - i. education, ii. currency, iii. medicine, iv. energy, 3. Human resource - i. Nature and quality of people, ii. their attitudes, iii. values, norms and morals. In the area of environmental ethics, emphasis has been laid on two large ecosystems: The Marine Biome and Forest Ecosystems The ongoing depletion of biogeoresources in these two major ecosystems is our principal concern. To relate Bioethics with enhanced sustainability of biogeoresources we should endeavour to develop systems of relationship among various approaches and views to basic issues in life and in death. One such sure tool to reach the above goal is bioethics education. We should remember that human diversity in thinking produces sometimes conflicts and conflict drains constructive energy. We should be the people who generate sound bioethical teaching. We should develop exercises in Bioethics Curriculum Development. Bioethics Education has come to stay and to improve the quality of human life.

The way of life of human being may change during the 21st century. Some of the charges may include the absence of agricultural fields if food (plant/meat) is grown biotechnologically. In a few years time we may not use our conventional medical shops to sell bottled medicines and pads of tablets & pills. These will be replaced by gene therapy and disease targeted medicinal probes and many other changes. Our next generation must be educated to prepare themselves for such changes in lifestyle. Hence this workshop is just a step in that direction

Jayapaul Azariah

Editorial Preface

The title "Bioethics in India" may be rather presumptuous, however rather than intending to define the field of bioethics in the subcontinent of India, we want to introduce the broad nature of bioethical thinking and concepts among Indians. The papers reflect the interests of the 300 participants of the International Bioethics Seminar cum Workshop held in Madras under the subtheme of Bioethical Management of Biogeoresources, from 16-19 January 1997, at the University of Madras. We look forward to the involvement of further persons who share the vision for a need for ethical consideration of the issues raised by biological technology, medicine and science at a future seminar and in subsequent volumes.

The origins of this workshop may stem from a chance meeting between two of us, J.A. and D.M., at a Seminar held in Madras in 1992. Then in 1993 cooperation grew in the conducting of the International Bioethics Survey in India, as part of a ten country project coordinated by D.M. The development of the Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics, which became a journal in 1995, aimed at stimulating bioethics in Asia, was supported by the associate editorship of J.A. In 1996 J.A., D.M. and Frank Leavitt began a three year Japanese Ministry of Education International Scientific Cooperation Project for the Development of an Asian Bioethics Network. This project involves the travel of each of the three of us to each others countries once a year to work with each other in encouraging local bioethics, and learning from them.

We were all overwhelmed by the huge response to the call for papers to the meeting in Madras, and the number of papers grew to over a hundred as shown here. Unfortunately not all the papers have been received at the time of publication, in which case the abstracts are included. The book is on-line on the Internet <> and further papers may be added after the publication of this hard copy. We hope that this enables more readers around the world to share in this work. The papers generally follow the divisions of sessions used at the seminar.

The seminar was only possible with the dedication and support of numerous persons, but especially the associates and students of Jayapaul Azariah at the University of Madras. In particular we thank A.G. Viji Roy for dedicated typing of all the abstracts. We also thank Dr. C. Govindasamy, Thomson Jacob, J. Gunasingh Masilamoni, K. Samuel Jesudoss, C. Prabhahar and Valarmathi for their help. We thank the University of Madras for financial support.

More of the background and meaning is in the invitation letter by JA. We warmly invite readers to join in the network of bioethics, and the challenges of the Chennai Statement of Bioethics that follows this editorial. It was reached by consensus during the Seminar, and brings upon the challenge of an Indian Association of Bioethics, which we hope will unite the groups around India that share similar goals and aspirations to making us a better society, and contributing to the global discussion of what is a good life.


Jayapaul Azariah, Hilda Azariah and Darryl R.J. Macer, April, 1997

Chennai Statement on Bioethics, and Recommendations of the Workshop Cum Seminar on Bioethics,16-19 January, 1997

1. Bioethics is an interdisciplinary subject including the study of environmental, ethical, legal and social issues raised by applications of biology, medicine and science. Wide interdisciplinary debate is to be encouraged.

2. We request that funding agencies be more liberal, rational and equitable in the allocation of resources.

3. In all government recognised applied science, technology and humanities departments, ethics committees should be formed which would meet at least twice a year to review all ethical issues. Hospitals should also form ethics committees to foster the process by which ethical issues will be recognized and addressed within the ordinary operation of the hospital and the community it serves. These Ethics Committees will have four functions: (1) to provide education on ethics for the hospital; (2) to facilitate communication between all persons involved in the care and treatment process; (3) to be available for consultation on difficult cases; and (4) to provide policy recommendations to the hospital.

4. An oath should be taken by the Ph.D. research scholars at the entry to, and graduation from, all Ph.D. programs. The Oath could read:

"I accept this award of the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy of ------- University in recognition of my academic endeavours in the subject of ------ proudly conscious that with this I become privileged to enter and join the group of intellectuals around the world having similar distinction. I am fully conscious and aware of, and take a solemn oath in the presence of my alma mater, peers and colleagues to discharge in every way the responsibility for exemplary moral standards, ethical conduct and unimpeachable integrity, which I shall always uphold and exhibit for scrutiny and emulation by all in society to be worthy of the honour bestowed on me by this degree and of the responsibility which comes from the possession of expert knowledge. Sd/-

In the presence of : Place, date etc. can be filled up as desired.

5. Bioethics should be taught at all educational institutions starting from primary level.

6. An Indian Society of Bioethics is to be formed with an executive committee consisting of a Chair and nine members elected by the membership. The executive committee should include members from diverse specialties and departments.

7. This Society will publish a journal in bioethics.

8. The participants resolved to seek government support and publicity for an annual "Ethics Awareness Day". The date and month to be decided by the committee for the Bioethics Society.

9. The Medical Council of India may be approached for the evaluation of Health Care Ethics and teaching of Ethics in Medical Schools.

10. The Hippocratic Oath or a similar Oath is to be administered to students at the time of joining and passing out (graduation) a Medical School Institution so that the real spirit of the oath can be understood and observed by medical students and staff.

11. Nursing should be recognised as a profession. Nursing Council of India to be approached for evaluation of teaching and practice of patient care ethics in Nursing Profession.

12. In animal experimentation the judicious minimum and humane use of animals is to be practiced. Formulation of guidelines for schools and college teachers is to be undertaken.

13. The rights of indigenous people, the ecology of rural areas, bioethical management of the coastal zones, and knowledge of indigenous fisherpeople and farmers of their ecosystems must be respected, protected and documented.

14. A comparative study of religions with special reference to values is basic to developing ethics at the grass root level and when this can grow steadily, shall help in eliminating unethical acts by human beings.

15. Annual seminars with wide national publicity and rigorous selection of papers will be conducted. In January 1998 these are planned at Salem, Mangalore, Ahmednager and New Delhi.

16. It was resolved to hold the next International Conference on Bioethics during early 1999 at the University of Madras, Chennai.

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