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11 Apr 2017

Should health disclosure be made mandatory in elections in India?

Health Disclosures: Should India follow the US?

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.

In context

Health Disclosures: Should India follow the US?
Why is this important?


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.

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Health disclosures in the US


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.

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Major concerns

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

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