Explore bioethics’ in the Indian context


This webinar explored the concept of bioethics, which is value-laden, by using perspectives from social and cultural anthropology, practical ethics, science practice, and policy decisions. The speaker drew examples from the public health realm in India to discuss and observe that bioethics’ should not be limited to mere protocol compliance but should guide science practice. Further, she discussed the need to identify, analyse and resolve ethical challenges in everyday science practice that are directly impacting society at large.

The webinar is useful for students (undergraduate and above), educators, clinicians, scientists, policy enthusiasts, and science enthusiasts at large.


00:00:00 Welcome and introduction 

00:02:24 What is bioethics 

00:05:57 The Nurember trial 

00:08:33 Tuskegee Sypt Experiments 

00:11:43 Ethics dumping 

00:15:15 Cervical cancer screening in India 

00:19:04 HPV vaccination program 

00:22:57 Issues 

00:26:04 Discussion

Summary of the webinar (by Poornimai Abirami G P)

Ethics simply means you shouldn’t do something to others that you do not want others to do to you. Treating all living organisms equally, with respect, lies at the heart of bioethics from which all the rules and regulations emanate. Bioethics encompasses clinical, research, environmental and public-health-related ethics. In this webinar, Saveetha Meganathan, Senior Scientist at the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society sheds light on what exactly is bioethics and how to uphold it while executing biomedical research.

With the aid of a few examples from history (the Nuremberg trial and Tuskegee Syphilis experiments of 1945 – 1946 and 1932 – 1972, respectively) Meganathan explains how the fence of bioethics has been breached in the past. Also, with the aid of present examples in the Indian context, which includes the cervical cancer screening trial and the Human papillomavirus vaccination program, which took place during 1998 – 2015 and 2009 – 2010, respectively at various places in India, she discusses ethics dumping, which involves developed countries making use of the unawareness and lack of properly framed laws in the low-middle-income countries (LMIC) to exploit and execute things that are unethical in their own countries.

According to Meganathan, bioethics shouldn’t be a set of inflexible rules, once framed and followed throughout, but rather the policymakers, researchers, clinicians and everyone else involved should have clarity over what forms the core of bioethics and the final conclusions should be drawn via discussion and deliberations whenever and wherever necessary. 

To learn more about bioethics, watch the recording of the webinar.