Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Category: India

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.

Fall of David Cameron

When David Cameron became Prime Minister for the second time in May 2015 he was expected to last full term. In his first term his Conservative Party did not have majority in the House of Commons. He ran a coalition government with Liberal Party as partner and Nicholas (Nick) William Peter Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister. In May 2015 his party had majority. Labour and Liberal parties had lost seats. It was smooth sailing.
Many Conservative MPs were unhappy with EU and wanted British exit from EU. David Cameron had promised Brexit referendum.
David Cameron meddled in affairs where he should not have. He commented on on-going Republican primaries in USA. He called Donald Trump stupid.
Brexit referendum divided Conservative Party and many other parties. It put an end to Boris Johnson and David Cameron friendship.
David Cameron campaigned against Brexit. He got foreigners involved in Brexit. Barack Obama said if Britain left EU it will have to go to end of queue for trade deal. USA will have a trade deal with EU first. IMF President Christine Lagarde spoke against Brexit.
After losing the referendum David Cameron announced his resignation which was to be effective first week of October after his party elects a new leader. In most countries his successor would have been elected in a day. In UK, Conservative Party opted for a long process where MPs in House of Commons vote and candidates are out one by one till two remain and then 1,50,000 party members elect the leader. His party began the process of election of new leader and fixed 9 September as the date for voting by 1,50,000 party members. When Margaret Thatcher resigned and John Major succeeded this long process was not there.
There were five candidates. Liam Fox was the first to go. Then Stephen Crabb quit. That left three candidates for the second round on 7/7/2016. Michael Gove lost. Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom were left. It seemed there would a bitter contest or a catfight between the two. Suddenly Andrea Leadsom quit the contest on 11/7/2016. Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservative Private Members’ Committee, popularly known as 1922 Committee, announced Theresa May as the new PM.
David Cameron could have remained neutral on Brexit. Or he could have said he will honour the referendum and invoke Article 50 of Lisbon Treaty to bring UK out of EU. Having aggressively campaigned against Brexit he said he did not want to invoke Article 50. Theresa May was not in favour of Brexit. Once the result was out she said “Brexit means Brexit.” Theresa May was Home Secretary. Her full designation was Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department.

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