Should health disclosure be made mandatory in elections in India?
Recent events including the revelation on Sonia Gandhi's health and Jayalalithaa's untimely death in Tamil Nadu have triggered debate on whether an unhealthy candidate can ensure a sturdy democracy. While in the US, Presidential candidates practice health disclosures prior to elections, no such practice exists in India. The Representation of People's Act, as well as judicial pronouncements stay silent on the matter.
Why is this important?
Physical or mental illness can affect the representative's ability to think, communicate and act effectively. The decisions made could have detrimental consequences in such cases. As evidenced from recent events including TN CM Jayalalithaa's and union minister E. Ahamed's death, inaccessible health information can render crucial events shrouded in mystery causing disruption and damage to the routine functioning of democracy.
Health disclosure requirements
It involves statistics including height, weight and blood pressure. Disclosures on laboratory tests on cholesterol and glucose levels can also be made. Details including intake of prescribed drugs as well as use of cigarettes/alcohol should also be made public. The information disclosed should analyze the viability of the candidate to continue performing his duties to the best of his abilities until the term ends.
What Anthony Eden cost Britain
Anthony Eden, three-time British Foreign Secretary and British PM (1955-57) was prescribed Benzedrine for his stomach condition,during the Suez Crisis. Eden is believed to have been suffering side effects of the drug including hallucinations and mood swings, resulting in his bad judgement on the issue.
Health disclosures in the US
US Presidents, until recently, have kept their health information private. However, recent occupants of the White House have revealed detailed health information, although not required to do so by law. Current President Donald Trump's health has been described "astonishingly excellent", in a letter released prior to his election. American debates have also revolved around President's right to privacy and illness as a valid disqualification.
When Truman inherited World War II
Franklin D Roosewelt, was paralyzed by polio before entering White House in 1933. His health started deteriorating by his fourth campaign in 1944. He died of a cerebral haemorrhage in 1945, handing over the war to Vice President Truman.
The public deserves to know about relevant health details of the candidate that may enable them to make an informed choice. Further, candidate's privacy becomes a significant concern with making disclosure norms mandatory, especially in the "breaking news" era. Balance can be struck by keeping the threshold at disclosing conditions that impair the candidate's ability to perform the duties linked to the elected office.
You and I can make all the difference. If you think this should be done, join NewsBytes in signing this petition - https://www.change.org/p/shri-narendra-modi-make-health-disclosures-mandatory-in-elections-in-india