Political Prisoners

Brave New World

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

For several years in the ’80s and ’90s, stories raced through communities of people being seduced, drugged, and when they awakened, to their horror, an internal organ, like a kidney, had been removed.

Several horror movies played on these fears, and undoubtedly attracted significant viewers and money, by stoking these fears.

Recently, it has been reported that there is a brisk and bustling business in a country touted as “the world’s largest democracy,” where the illicit sale of kidneys has become a kind of cottage industry!

In India, that nation-state that dominates the Asian subcontinent, with over a billion residents (according to a July 2006 estimate), is also home to an industry where almost everyone benefits, except the poor sap who once owned the kidney!

People told of waking up with searing pain in their abdomens, at least 500 such people, usually poor laborers, rickshaw drivers, or farmers on the brink of peonage.

Many of the men were offered jobs, and indeed some were told openly what was wanted, for a payment of between $1,000 and $2,500.

The men were approached by kidney scouts in Delhi, or Uttar Pradesh, one of the poorer regions of the country.

The ring—composed of dozens of paramedics, doctors, nurses, private hospitals and pathology clinics—were acquiring the organs for use by rich Indians and foreigners, according to published accounts.

Organs for sale?

There is a malevolent logic to this practice in this, the age of globalism, where everything—everything—is for sale to the highest bidder.

There is something nightmarish, ghoulish, and Frankensteinian about this practice, but it is also a telling commentary on how the rich regard the poor among them.

For the men who’ve had their organs snatched, almost none of them had been paid the promised fee, even if they willingly agreed to the sale.

They were taken to a clinic, their blood was tested, and they were threatened by armed guards to neither resist, nor tell about the practice.

This is the shadow side, the unstated reference point to the free market.

That said; India isn’t a poor country. Its GDP is about three times that of Great Britain, its former colonial power. Its economy is one of the fastest growing on earth.

Yet, this illustrates how great wealth may exist amidst great poverty.

This ain’t hatin’ on India, for great distances between wealth and poverty isn’t an Indian peculiarity: it is a global one.

It is globalism made plain—everything’s for sale., February 6, 2008

(Source: Gentleman, Amelia, “Kidney Theft Ring Preys on India’s Poorest Laborers, “New York Times, Wednesday, January 30, 2008, p. A3)