VIPs, “very influential patients whose individual attributes and characteristics (i.e. social status, occupation, position, fame, infamy, etc) coupled with their behaviour, have the potential to significantly influence a clinician’s judgment or behaviour.” The doctors did what best they could do for a leader who was all pervasive and pervading.
This definition is so true of Madam Jayalalithaa whose health belonged to the aspirations and will of her party workers and citizens of Tamil Nadu.
The love and concern of the people of Tamil Nadu and the need to have a leader of great quality push the social and moral obligations to the brink of ethical dilemma and reflective thinking. Madam Jayalalithaa, beyond boundaries of politics and privileges, represented a moral need for many to have her alive and well. The image and the smile of Amma had kept the lives and smiles of many alive and vibrant. Many felt that they can sleep silently and look for the next day with hope for Amma was there to take care of the family of Tamil Nadu. A mother, what we had in the leader Madam Jayalalithaa. Her smile and messages brought life to many and her projects touched the hearts and souls of many.
Many thought Amma is beyond human frailties and foibles. Amma was considered blessed and divine for she will live and outlive physical ailments that all humans will succumb to. She carried an aura and an image of divinity in the minds of her followers and her good deeds stood brighter in the shadow of controversies. Her personal life very few did care for she became the epitome of welfare of all Tamilians. She carried her colossal work of humanity and politics with great acumen and empathy. She fought tooth and nail to keep her philanthropy above politics and kept her political will with well-trained human resources from the party worker to ministers. Her strong authoritarian approach maintained discipline among nearly 1 crore and 70 lakh members of her party. Her continued update of knowledge through constant reading and learning outdid the political manoeuvres of her opponents. Her image wore a stamp of authority and affection in the geography of Tamil Nadu.
She lived for the people. People became her family though practical life demanded that someone needs to take care of her personal day-to-day activities. She lived a life of sacrifice and service. She kept the interests of welfare of the party and the people above her personal likes and dislikes. With diabetes to take care of and diabetic complications to control her personal health slowly ate her physical self and left her with no choice to govern under constant medical care and supervision. She changed the concept of ruling by developing an inner circle of human resources with loyalists of great calibre. The loyalists formed a group of colleagues and bureaucrats. She could convey her day-to-day activities and administrative responsibilities that were adsorbed and advocated by the team of true loyalists who duplicated her duties and responsibilities in action and implementation. The all pervasive obsession and the need to do good in her blood circulation pushed her body mechanics to run in spite of slow deterioration of her health.
Because a day of absence or a gesture from her send many like a child looking frantically for her mother. That motherly affection of Amma with the political mind and implementing welfare arms kept the lives of Tamil Nadu going. The sudden shutdown of her bodily functions and to some extent negligence forced her to be taken to a hospital for assistance to pull her body out of total annihilation of her organ functions and infection. A team of medical experts fought to keep her bodily functions with artificial modalities under utmost medical expertise and technical prowess.
Her illness was kept as a secret for that will leave many mentally orphaned. Until the last minute hopes were raging in the minds hoping against hope to keep Amma physically alive.
Amma in her life and death reflected the minds and culture of Tamil Nadu. Her health condition took the medical fraternity to ethical dilemmas and made them search for ethical validation of their approach of medical treatment. They wanted to justify their actions in the domain of medical ethics. They looked for definitions. It is therefore very essential to introspect:
“Understanding ethical practice — how to do good and avoid doing harm — involves recognizing the complexity of the patient care environment, which requires workers to respond and adapt to changing conditions as a normal part of work,” said Nancy Berlinger, adding, “The duty to plan, and to make plans that can work in practice, is an ethical obligation.”
Amma even in her death showed that she kept her self above even allowing her bodily parts to be manipulated and invaded by machines for she lived and loved all of us including the people of Tamil Nadu. A humble citizen’s gratitude for the service rendered by a great soul making all of us believe that human rises above humanity touching the fringe of divinity in spite of human frailties.
by D S Sheriff