Legitimise the prostitute, ban the professional blood donor. Yes, strange that just months after the recent, much-hyped Calcutta conference on legalising prostitution comes the Supreme Court-imposed ban on professional blood donors effective from January 1. Discard politically correct nuances in the debate, dump the prejudices, get to the bare basics. And let the harsh irony hit you hard between the eyes. One sells body and one sells blood. Both are poor. Both exercise that cruel mirage called Choice. Both open themselves to grave diseases. Both endanger those who buy body or blood off them. And yet, ponderous editorials support the legitimacy of one while the other is banned. Which, in fact, is bad, which worse?
The worst, perhaps, waits to confront you in the country's commodity-scarce blood banks, where anxious people scrounge around for that lifesaving fluid for a loved one. Where despairing, miserable queues cling to an unhealthy national blood line in futile hope. Consider this: India's total requirement of blood, calculated on the basis of the WHO criterion of 10 to 11 units per hospital bed, is in the range of 60 lakh units a year. The total pre-ban collection was only about 30 lakh, with professional donors accounting for a third of this. Post-ban, it's a dry and desperate situation.