Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Voice of Punjab

Voice of Punjab
On 8/9/2016 Navjot Singh Sidhu his political front Awaaz-e-Punjab which means Voice of Punjab. With him were former hockey player and suspended SAD MLA Pargat Singh, independent MLA brothers Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjeet Singh Bains, and some others.
Sidhu Spoke against AAP, BJP and SAD. After he quit Rajya Sabha there was talk of him joining AAP. Sanjay Singh and some others had said Sidhu will join AAP. Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu had talked of him joining AAP. August 14 was to be the date. That did not happen. Sidhu attacked Arvind Kejriwal. He said Kejriwal was insecure. He wanted only yes men around him. AAP was like East India Company trying to win Punjab through divide and rule. He was a decoration piece earlier with BJP. Now AAP wanted him to be the same.
It was the first day of Kejriwal’s four-day Punjab tour. In Ludhiana there were protests by Akalis and Congress members and AAP rebels against the removal of Sucha Singh Chhotepur as Punjab convener. Sanjay Singh issued a rebuttal to Sidhu’s statements. He said Sidhu never said he wanted to contest elections.
Punjab Congress President had invited Sidhu to join Congress. He issued a statement on Sidhu’s front. “Their status looks like that of a confused and undecided couple who are not sure whether they should marry or just carry on with the relationship to keep all future options open.”
Sidhu said BJP wanted him to campaign for the Badals and he refused.
Sidhu attacked the Badals for family rule, drug meance and other things. Sukhbir Singh Badal asked “Does Sidhu want his family at the helm of affairs? Does he want his and his wife’s rule?” Navjot Kaur is an MLA and chief parliamentary secretary. She continues in BJP. It was first day of Punjab Assembly session. She attended joint meeting of SAD and BJP legislators.

Some years back there was a spoof on Sidhu. There was a poster in Amritsar. It mentioned its MP Sidhu was missing and anyone informed him will get 2,00,000 rupees award. A man goes in search of Sidhu. He goes to Parliament House. There he is told Sidhu may be giving cricket commentary somewhere. The man goes there. Does not find Sidhu. After that while watching TV he sees Sidhu in a comedy show and goes to claim his prize. There someone tells him “We also know he is there. We want him here.”
AAP, Congress and SAD-BJP are three fronts in Punjab. Sidhu has opened the fourth front. He is well known as cricketer, commentator and a participant in a comedy show. Those who are disgruntled with AAP, BJP, Congress and SAD can join him.
AAP has lost sheen in recent months. Sucha Singh Chhotepur and some other Punjab AAP leaders were opposed to making Sidhu CM candidate. After Chhotepur’s suspension following a sting operation showing him accepting money, many AAP members have revolted against Kejriwal. Anna Hazare has expressed disappointed with Kejriwal. AAP is damaged in Punjab. AAP began with talks of grassroots democracy and no high command culture. Both were dumped within months and are not there. Kejriwal’s autocratic and dictatorial attitude has made many admirers turn away from AAP.
In a four-way contest 27% of votes can get more than 50% of seats. The name of the front suggests Sidhu’s ambition is to become chief minister of Punjab. As elections near, many MLAs and other politicians are likely to switch parties. Sidhu is known for his choice of words and phrases known as Sidhuisms. The contest for Punjab is wide open.

Surrogacy and Child Rights

The central government has come out with a bill banning commercial surrogacy. It bans foreigners, single parents, live-in partners and same-sex couples from commissioning surrogacy. The bill allows a married couple to commission surrogacy if after five years of marriage they have no child or the child mentally or physically not fit. The surrogate mother should be a blood relative of the couple and surrogacy should be for altruistic purpose. On 24/8/2016 Sushma Swaraj talked about the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 and Indian ethos.
Many have criticised the bill. Some have a vested interest in continuing commercial surrogacy. They are doctors who have profited from surrogacy business or women who became surrogate mothers for money. Others are seemingly neutral but have their axes to grind. They say all should be able to hire surrogates.
In this controversy child rights are forgotten. People who want surrogacy talk of child as a product and not a human being. They oppose morality of allowing only married couples to have children through surrogacy. Morality does not matter for immoral people, some of them journalists and politicians. Morality matters for many Indians and foreigners. Sometimes couples hire two or more women for surrogacy, and when one child is born ask other women to abort.
What about the right of the child to be breastfed by its biological mother for six months? What happens when a child knows its legal mother is not its biological mother? What happens when a child knows it has two fathers but no mother or two mothers but no father? What happens when a child knows it has a father but no mother and vice versa? What happens when a child knows its legal parents divorced during its gestation? What happens when a child knows it is not a citizen of any country?
There was a girl child who was given in adoption by its mother. A Swedish couple adopted the child. The child grew up and became a woman. That woman wanted to know her biological mother. She harassed a doctor. She went to court. Tushar Gandhi knew the doctor. He wrote to the woman he wished her mother had aborted her. Many children born to surrogate mothers are likely to want to know their biological mothers.
What about the possibility of children of same biological mother but different legal mothers marrying each other? In an American town there was one sperm donor for more than 150 children. He was the doctor of the clinic.
Commercial surrogacy is banned in Canada, France, Germany, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
No right is absolute. Right to have a child is not absolute. There should be no surrogate motherhood. Woman who gives birth to the child is the mother. Today it is possible for a woman to give birth by overcoming natural difficulties. There is womb transplant. There is ovary transplant. There is IVF. In spite of all these, if a woman is unable to become a mother so be it. In life, you don’t get everything you want. There is no Fundamental Right to be a parent however much one may twist the Constitution.

India and Rio Olympics

India won three medals in Beijing Olympics 2008; one gold and two bronze. India won six medals in London Olympics 2012; two silver and four bronze. Some predicted India will win 12 medals in Rio Olympics. India sent the largest ever contingent to Rio and the expectation was that India will win more than six medals. India’s women’s hockey team qualified after 36 reasons and was the main reason for India’s contingent going beyond 100.
It was disappointment for India day after day. In previous three Olympics India had at least one medal in shooting. This time it was zero. India had three men in boxing. All three failed to win a medal. There was no woman boxer this time. Last time Sushil Kumar had won silver medal and Yogeshwar Dutt bronze medal in wrestling. This time men did not win any medal in wrestling.
Indians failed in archery, rowing, tennis, weightlifting and so on. In men’s doubles and women’s doubles in tennis, Indians were out in the first round. In mixed doubles, Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza lost in semi-final and bronze medal play-off.
Day after day it was bad news for India. On the 12th day Sakshi Malik won bronze in wrestling. India had something to cheer about.
In badminton there was one bronze medal last time. This time it was silver. P. V. Sindhu won silver in badminton. P. V. Sindhu versus Karolina Marin was the most watched singles match in India.
Most Indian athletes failed to achieve their personal best in Rio. That raises a question mark about measuring time and distance in India. Are the timings and distances manipulated to show athletes are good enough to take part in Olympics?
Inderjeet Singh and Narsingh Yadav failed dope tests. Inderjeet Singh did not go to Rio. Narsingh Yadav’s case had many twists. First there was case against him by Sushil Kumar for representing India in 74 kg category. Narsingh Yadav won the case in Delhi High Court. Sushil Kumar did not appeal in Supreme Court. Then Narsingh Yadav failed dope test. He cried conspiracy. Praveen Rana was chosen to represent India.
Narsingh Yadav got support from WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and some politicians. PM Modi wanted to know what happened. One wrestler was arrested for spiking Narsingh Yadav’s drink. Narsingh Yadav appealed to NADA. NADA was to give its verdict on a Saturday at 7 p.m. That was postponed to Monday evening. NADA cleared Narsingh Yadav. He flew to Rio.
WADA appealed against NADA to CAS. CAS declared Narsingh Yadav guilty and banned him for four years w.e.f. 18/8/2016. Narsingh Yadav had to leave Rio. India went unrepresented in 74 kg category. WFI was unprepared for WADA appeal and CAS ruling. It was foolish for WFI officials not to expect WADA to appeal, and CAS to hear the appeal before Narsingh Yadav’s bout.
From six medals in London to two medals in Rio it was a great let down. It seems people in Government of India expected 11-15 medals. May be they thought athletes who had won medals previously will win again and some other athletes will win medals. India could not reach even Beijing tally of three medals.
A few months before Olympics there was change of Sports Minister. Sarbananda Sonowal became CM of Assam. Vijay Goel became Sports Minister. He went to Rio. He broke protocol. His staff members did not follow rules. Rio Olympic Committee warned him of cancelling his accreditation.
USA Government does not spend money on sports. American athletes are toppers in Olympics. Some of them win multiple medals. USA does not have a sports ministry. India should abolish sports ministry and stop government funding to sports. In Rio our athletes stayed in Olympic Village. Some officials stayed in hotel room costing 21,000 rupees per day.
Sponsors should concentrate on events where athletes can win multiple medals. In hockey 16 players are selected. If they win all matches they will get one gold medal which has not happened since 1980. If they lose in final they get a silver medal. Bronze medal is possible after losing in semi-final. Instead of spending money on hockey team that money can be spent on 16 different athletes who will compete in multiple events. One athlete can compete in 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m. Second athlete can compete in 5,000m and 10,000m. Other athletes can compete in multiple events in aquatics, athletics, shooting and gymnastics.

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