11, September 2016

Why the Surrogacy Bill is necessary

Source: The Hindu

What is Surrogacy?

Surrogacy is when a woman carries a baby for another couple and gives up the baby at birth. In the past decade, commercial surrogacy has grown tremendously in India. It is currently estimated to be a $2-billion industry. Before November 2015, when the government imposed a ban, foreigners accounted for 80 per cent of surrogacy births in the country.

Why few countries have Banned Surrogacy?

This is because most countries, barring a few such as Russia, Ukraine and some U.S. states, do not permit commercial surrogacy. Many countries in Europe have completely prohibited surrogacy arrangements, both to protect the reproductive health of the surrogate mother as well as the future of the newborn child.

Issues with Surrogacy:

The debate began when, in 2008, a Japanese doctor couple commissioned a baby in a small town in Gujarat. The surrogate mother gave birth to a healthy baby girl. By then the couple had separated and the baby was both parentless and stateless, caught between the legal systems of two countries. The child is now in her grandmother’s custody in Japan but has not obtained citizenship, as surrogacy is not legal in Japan.

In 2012, an Australian couple who had twins by surrogacy, arbitrarily rejected one and took home the other. A single mother of two from Chennai decided to become a surrogate mother in the hope that the payment would help her start a shop near her house. She delivered a healthy child, but her hopes bore little fruit for herself. She received only about Rs.75, 000, with an auto rickshaw driver who served as a middleman, taking a 50 per cent cut. After repaying the loans, she did not have enough money.

What do we learn from these issues?

These incidents highlight the total disregard for the rights of the surrogate mother and child and have resulted in a number of public interest litigations in the Supreme Court to control commercial surrogacy.

What does the Law Commission say?

The 228th report of the Law Commission of India also recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing ethical altruistic surrogacy to needy Indian citizens by enacting a suitable legislation.

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 proposes to regulate surrogacy in India by permitting it as an option for couples who cannot naturally have children, have a lack of other assisted reproductive technology options, are keen to have a biological child, and can find a surrogate mother among their relatives.

What is Altruistic Surrogacy?

It means an arrangement without transfer of funds as inducement, is currently practiced in some centers in India, though the majority of surrogacy centers use women who are paid for their services.

The child born through surrogacy will have all the rights of a biological child. Indian infertile couples between the ages of 23-50 years (woman) and 26-55 (man) who have been married for five years and who do not have a surviving child will be eligible for surrogacy.

The surrogate mother should be a close relative of the intending couple and between the ages of 25-35 years and shall act as a surrogate mother only once in her lifetime. Implementation will be through the national and State surrogacy boards.

Any establishment found undertaking commercial surrogacy, abandoning the child, exploiting the surrogate mother, selling or importing a human embryo shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term not be less than 10 years and with a fine up to Rs.10 lakh. Registered surrogacy clinics will have to maintain all records for a minimum period of 25 years.

An alternate Solution:

While infertility is a growing problem in India, there are many different ways of making a family. Adoption is an underutilized option that can not only give happiness to a childless couple but also provide a home and a future for an orphan child. While the Bill will now be placed before Parliament and the details debated, the basic tenet of disallowing commercial surrogacy is at its heart, and will remain.

Leveraging primary care

Source: The Hindu

Non communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes, respiratory diseases, cancer and heart diseases are taking a severe toll on public health across the WHO South-East Asia Region. Approximately 8.5 million lives, many of them premature, are lost each year due to NCDs, making them the region’s leading cause of death and a key source of public health expenditure.

Issues and steps taken:

With the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD) expected to rise in coming years, due largely to rapid development and associated lifestyle changes in the WHO South-East Asia Region, countries have taken steps to arrest the problem: multi sectoral plans are being developed; health promotion campaigns are being carried out; exposure to NCD risk factors such as alcohol and tobacco are being curtailed. NCD monitoring has also been enhanced. But as countries strive to make a one-third reduction in premature deaths caused by NCDs by 2030, there is an important tool that remains underutilized: the primary health-care system.

What can be done?

By bringing NCD care to the primary health-care level, health authorities have the opportunity to ensure appropriate services are provided to the right people, at the right place and at the right time.

While policies aimed at providing high-tech care at central hospitals can have results, their impact will always be limited and almost always be reactive. Primary health facilities are not only better equipped to provide the holistic, patient-centered focus that preventing and managing an NCD requires, but they can also enhance equity and access to NCD carean aim central to the Sustainable Development Goals.

There are several steps that health authorities can take to bring NCD care directly to the people and to roll back their tragic and costly burden.

First, national health and development policies must be recalibrated. This means putting the primary health approach front and center of national NCD action plans, as well as drafting and implementing a range of supporting protocols, from clear policies outlining the spectrum of primary-level NCD services to well-defined diagnostic and treatment guidelines.

Second, health-care workers at the primary level must be given the knowledge and skills to provide NCD and associated risk factor care.

Third, the availability of generic essential medicines and basic technologies for NCD management must be guaranteed at the primary level. To do so, procurement policies must be reviewed and essential medicine lists updated.

Supplementary ways:

Health authorities must put in place funding mechanisms to facilitate primary-level NCD care. While shifting NCD care to the primary level will reduce health system expenditures overall, not to mention out-of-pocket costs borne by patients, making this possible nonetheless requires effective budget allocations and robust planning. At the same time, increased taxation of health-damaging commodities such as tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy foods and beverages should be considered, both as a means to diminish demand for these products as well as to increase revenue for NCD prevention and control.

BRICS Wellness Workshop begins – Bengaluru:

Source: Business Standard

Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs inaugurated the workshop. The workshop has been organized by Ministry of AYUSH and Ministry of External Affairs with support of Karnataka Government.

Agenda of the workshop:

It will discuss the importance of traditional medicine in contemporary community health care due to its health promotive, disease preventive, curative, rehabilitative and rejuvenation properties.

Ambedkar statue: Telangana panel to study Sikkim Park

Source: The Hindu

The Cabinet Sub-Committee on setting up 125-foot B. R. Ambedkar statue as part of his 125th birth anniversary celebrations will undertake a visit to Sikkim from September 11 to 13 to study the Ravangla Buddha Park there, where a130-feet Buddha statue was installed and a park and a meditation centre were developed.

The Ravangla Buddha Park had become one of the well-known Buddhist tourism centres in the country after it was inaugurated by Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama in March 2013.

It had become one of the icons of Sikkim since lakhs of tourists, including followers of Buddhism, were visiting it every year, the officials stated.

India, U.S. will hold military exercises near China border

Source: Sunday Guardian Live

India and the United States are all set to a military exercise close to the India-China land border, just three months after Indian Navy sailed through the South China Sea in an affirmation of freedom of navigation in international waters. A total of 225 US Army soldiers are landing at Chaubuttia in Uttarakhand to start the two-week-long joint exercise called Yudh Abhyas, from 14 September. This is the 12th edition of the India-US joint exercise and the first in an area close to the border with China.

Recent developments – U.S. – India Military ties:

India’s military and strategic ties with the United States are growing rapidly. The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) signed between US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar was a major step to curb firepower from likely threats. LEMOA has created a formal platform between India and the US to mutually use each other’s military bases and other facilities. With a trilateral joint exercise called Malabar involving Indian, US and Japanese Navies in June this year, India had sent a strong message to China that it would not allow any country to control the South China Sea. Yudh Abhyas is an extension of the same message of freedom from fear of threat by forces inimical to democracy and forces backing terrorism.

About Yudh Abhyas:

Yudh Abhyas will be the first India-US exercise after LEMOA came into existence. The Chaubuttia military station near Ranikhet is situated just over 100 km away from the India-China border. Yudh Abhyas has been strategically planned by the Ministry of Defence keeping in mind the features of the Line of Control, which India shares with Pakistan and the Line of Actual Control, which India shares with China. The exercise will be conducted in the heavily forested areas of Chaubattia, where the heights range from 6,000 feet to 8,000 feet.

New lending norms may nudge banks towards retail loans: SBI

Source: Economic TImes

Stringent RBI norms proposed for corporate lending are expected to nudge banks towards consumer loans, SBI Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya has said while reiterating that there is no bubble in the retail segment.

Background:

The Reserve Bank had last month come out with draft guidelines on credit to large corporate borrowers asking banks to make additional provisions if the loan amount crosses the prescribed limit.

Government is serious to ensure that IAS officers’ genuine initiative is not deterred: Dr Jitendra Singh

Source: PIB

Government is serious to ensure that IAS officers’ genuine initiative is not deterred on any account.

The delegation has suggested to revisit the laws including the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, and sought protection for both the working as well as retired officers. They also sought appropriate legal assistance for fighting court cases.

The delegation also handed over a memorandum to Dr Jitendra Singh which sought to highlight some of the issues relating to officers who come on Central deputation resulting in difference in their pay scale, sometimes resulting in heavy financial loss. As a consequence to this, the memorandum sought to point out that many officers in the rank of Joint Secretary are sometimes reluctant to come on Central Deputation because of issues related to their pay scale.

ICICI Bank introduces ‘Software Robotics’ to power banking operations

Source: ANI

India’s largest private sector bank ICICI Bank has announced the deployment of ‘Software Robotics’ in over 200 business processes across various functions of the bank.

The bank is the first in the country and among few globally to deploy ‘Software Robotics’ that emulates human actions to automate and perform repetitive, high volume and time consuming business tasks cutting across multiple applications.

Scientist names flatworm after U.S. President

Source: The Hindu

U.S. scientists have discovered a new species of a parasitic flatworm that infects turtles in Malaysia, and named it after Barack Obama as a way of honoring the US president.

The flatworm, named Baracktrema obamai, is so unusual that it merits not only a new species designation, but its own genus, too.

MIT scientists use terahertz waves to read closed books

Source: The Hindu

Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have developed a new technology that can read the pages of a closed book, an advance that may help archaeologists look into antique books without touching them.

The system could be used to analyze any materials organized in thin layers, such as coatings on machine parts or pharmaceuticals.

Researchers from MIT and Georgia Institute of Technology developed the algorithms that acquire images from individual sheets in stacks of paper, and interprets the often distorted or incomplete images as individual letters.

The system uses terahertz radiation, the band of electromagnetic radiation between microwaves and infrared light, which has several advantages over other types of waves that can penetrate surfaces, such as X-rays or sound waves.

Terahertz frequency profiles can distinguish between ink and blank paper, in a way that X-rays cannot, and has much better depth resolution than ultrasound.

The system exploits the fact that between the pages of a book tiny air pockets are trapped about 20 micrometres deep.

The difference in refractive index — the degree to which they bend light — between the air and the paper means that the boundary between the two will reflect terahertz radiation back to a detector.

In the new system, a standard terahertz camera emits ultrashort bursts of radiation, and the camera’s built-in sensor detects their reflections.

From the reflections’ time of arrival, the algorithm can gauge the distance to the individual pages of the book.



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