‘People have cancer because of their sins’: Indian health minister sparks outrage

‘People have cancer because of their sins’: Indian health minister sparks outrage
An Indian minister has sparked outrage on social media after saying that diseases like cancer and deadly accidents are an outcome of “divine justice.” He went on to explain that such mishaps are a result of people’s or their parents’ sins.

“God makes us suffer when we sin. Sometimes we come across young men getting inflicted with cancer or young men meeting with accidents. If you observe the background you will come to know that it's divine justice. Nothing else. We have to suffer that divine justice,” Himanta Biswa Sarma, a health minister from the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, said, as cited by Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency. He was speaking on Tuesday at an event organized for the distribution of appointment letters to teachers on Tuesday. 

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Maybe these sick people didn’t commit any sin at all. However, the deadly disease still can get them, as the sins may have been committed by their parents, the minister continued. “In this lifetime or in our previous life, or perhaps my father or mother... perhaps that young man did not do but his father has done something wrong.”

Sarma ended his controversial speech with a ‘reassuring’ comment: “All will get the outcome of this life’s actions in this life only. That divine justice always will be there. Nobody can escape the divine justice that will happen.”

After Sarma’s comments caused heated debate on social media. Many politicians, including Parliament member and ex-Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, lashed out at their colleague.

Sarma defended his remarks, saying that everyone had distorted his words. “Simply I said that Hinduism believes in karmic law and human sufferings are linked to karmic deficiency of past life. Don’t you [believe] that too?” he addressed P. Chidambaram.

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The Assam health minister started a heated dispute with renowned Indian news anchor and author Rajdeep Sardesai who said that laws of karma shouldn’t be applied to explain cancer.

In a dozen of other posts Sarma tried to explain his position which was getting more and more incomprehensible and obscure. Finally he wrote: “You have to realize difference between sin and karma. Politics can come and go. But what is written on Bhagavad Gita, is for me the final truth,” he said. Bhagavad Gita or simply the Gita is a verse in Sanskrit which is a part of Hindu epic and Indian philosophy.

However, people on social media were not satisfied by the Gita explanation, calling the minister’s ideology “twisted.”