#TROD (The Reasons Of Dying, March 28, 2015):

SynTalk thinks about dying & death from medical, ethical, existential, legal, & sociocultural perspectives, while constantly wondering how & why death is important. Is death ‘master-able’? The concepts are derived off / from Socrates, Glaucon, Epicurus, Jesus Christ, Hobbes, Stalin, Sydney Brenner, Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, Woody Allen, & Aruna Shanbaug, among others. How the hope for immortality is conceptually similar to the hope for justice? Can we avoid death before old age? How difficult is it to call someone dead, & is death an objective event? How life has changed from being ‘brutish, nasty and short’ a few centuries ago, & how the 20th century was in many ways the century of life. How is mortality different across age groups, and the role played by sanitation, vaccination, and oral rehydration over the years? Is death becoming more medicalized and protracted? Are more people now dying in hospitals? Why is it important to fight child mortality, and why is it likely that this global battle might be won or lost in the districts of India? Why the first month after birth is the most important to prevent avoidable death? Why the inevitability of death need (& should) not prevent appropriate public policy actions. How there is an opposition between life & death. What do we write on the death certificate, and why the cardio-respiratory arrest (for example) as a cause is not sufficient? How ‘extreme old age’ caused the death of Queen Mother? The difference and links between between physician assisted suicide, gradual withdrawal of care, (passive & active) euthanasia, medical care system, oral opiates, life support, & brain death. Why is the brain (stem) death becoming more popular, & possible links with organ transplant. Can there be a technology for death? How differently do people die? Can one prepare oneself to die (via philosophizing?)? What would leading oncologists do when they themselves face a terminal case of cancer? How suicide is the opposite of capital punishment. Do only human beings commit suicide; Why? Is death available to the ‘self’, in a moment when the self knows that it is no longer? How is the post-operative death different? Is the living cell programmed to die? Do we know what life is only through the occurrence of death, & is death a summation of life in some way? Is it important to not allow Market to take over death, just as it has taken over life? The importance of care for the dying? The role of the state in minimizing ‘bad luck’ deaths. How death is increasingly becoming banal and matter-of-fact, but is still (somehow) repressed culturally. Is it alright to have a cemetery in the middle of a university? How to die beautifully? The SynTalkrs are: Dr. Saitya Brata Das (philosophy, JNU, Delhi), Prof. Prabhat Jha (epidemiology, CGHR, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto), & Dr. Sanjay Nagral (surgery, Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai).

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TROD show.

Dr. Saitya Brata Das (philosophy, literature) is from the Centre for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi. His research interests are: philosophy of literature (Maurice Blanchot, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe), contemporary French thought (deconstruction, phenomenology), 20th century German thought (Martin Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, & Franz Rosenzweig), and political theology (F.W.J. von Schelling). After doing his Masters in English from JNU, he went on to complete his Ph.D. with his dissertation on ‘Ecstasy, Death and Disaster: Ethics and Aesthetics at the Limit of Philosophy’. He was a Postdoc Fellow at UFR Philosophie, Université de Strasbourg (France) in 2006-2007 and a Fellow at Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), Shimla (2009-2011). His first book length study The Promise of Time: Towards a Phenomenology of Promise was published from IIAS (2011). He has published widely in journals and books, including works titled ‘(Dis)figures of Death: Taking the Side of Derrida, Taking the Side of Death’ in Derrida Today (Edinburgh University Press, May 2010) and ‘Death, Life and Law’ (2014). Currently he is working on a monographs / books titled ‘The Political Theology of Schelling’ and The World to Come: Writings of Ethics and Politics.

Prof. Prabhat Jha (epidemiology, health economics) is the founding Director of the Centre for Global Health Research (CGHR) at St. Michael’s Hospital (Toronto, Canada), & is a key figure in epidemiology and economics of global health for the past decade. He is the University of Toronto Endowed Professor in Disease Control and also the Canada Research Chair at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. He is also the lead investigator of the Million Death Study (MDS) in India, which quantifies the causes of premature mortality in over 2 million homes from 1997‐2014. MDS was conceived to study previously undocumented at-home deaths to gain a more statistically representative understanding of disease patterns in India. Prof. Jha has also served as a Senior Scientist for the WHO, where he co‐led the work on health and poverty for the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health. Prior to that, he headed the World Bank team responsible for developing the Second National HIV/AIDS Control Program in India. He has received several recognitions including Officer of the Order of Canada (2012), the Luther Terry Award for Research on Tobacco Control (2012), and the Ontario Premier’s Research Excellence Award (2004). Prof. Jha holds an M.D. from the University of Manitoba and a D.Phil. from Oxford University, where he studied as a Canadian Rhodes Scholar.

Dr. Sanjay Nagral  (surgery, medical ethics) is a surgeon with specialisation in Hepato-pancreatobiliary surgery & liver transplantation, and practices both in the public & private sectors in Mumbai. He is the coordinator of the Department of Surgical Gastroenterology at Jaslok Hospital & Head of the Department of Surgery at the KB Bhabha Municipal General Hospital, Mumbai. He is also involved in postgraduate training as a guide for Surgical Gastroenterology & General Surgery training programs. He is the joint secretary of the Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee based in Mumbai, which promotes and regulates cadaveric transplant activity in Mumbai. He is the publisher & member of the editorial board of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics (IJME) & the Chairperson of the Forum for Medical Ethics. Dr. Nagral has written widely on issues related to public health & medical ethics. He has also written on ethical issues in brain death & organ donation, euthanasia and corruption in medicine. He has contributed to various publications including the Times of India, Hindustan Times, Economic & Political Weekly, National Medical Journal of India, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) & the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics.

ŸNote: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

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