Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Uri aftermath

On 18/9/2016 there was an attack on Indian soldiers at Uri resulting in 17 deaths that day and one more death next day. Most have called this attack a terrorist act and referred to 18 dead soldiers as martyrs. Some have said this is an act of war and not fair to call dead soldiers martyrs. As per most reports most soldiers died because the tents they were sleeping in caught fire. The four attackers were shot dead.
Pakistan denied it was behind the attack and said it was due to the unrest in Kashmir. Nawaz Sharif spoke about Kashmir when he addressed UN General Assembly. He compared Kashmir unrest to Intifada. India’s First Secretary responded by saying Pakistan is home to Ivy League of terrorism. Sushma Swaraj addressed UN General Assembly on 26/9/2016.
In India it is said about positions of political parties that where you stand depends on where you sit. That was the case this time also. When BJP was in opposition it wanted tough action against Pakistan when attacks took place. Narendra Modi spoke of 56 inch chest. Congress was measured in its response. Now BJP is in power and the response is measured while Congress wants tough action against Pakistan. Congress called Modi government the weakest government India had.
Different people have suggested different things about what should be India’s response to Pakistan. These include diplomatic isolation of Pakistan, sanctions against Pakistan, supporting Balochistan separatists, and stopping flow of Indus water. Some have suggested covert actions with deniability.
Diplomatic isolation of Pakistan is not easy. It has to start with India shutting down its High Commission and Deputy High Commission in Pakistan. Not many countries will be with India. USA and China will continue to deal with Pakistan.
Sanctions against Pakistan will mean end of trade and cultural and sports ties with Pakistan. It will affect both sides. There will be loss of business for India. Indian films will be banned in Pakistan.
Supporting Balochistan separatists can weaken Pakistan. Giving asylum to Brahudagh Bugti is part of that plan. India has to do it alone. China has an interest in Balochistan remaining part of Pakistan. Other countries will not support Balochistan separation.
Stopping flow of Indus water is easier said than done. India does not have dam capacity to hold Indus water. It will take years to build dams to hold water. Pakistani missiles and rockets can attack dams.
Covert actions with deniability mean terrorist acts. These are meant to deter Pakistan. India had agents who could carry out retaliatory terrorist acts. Inder Kumar Gujral put an end to those acts. After Manohar Parrikar became Defence Minister there was talk of having such agents who are referred to as assets. It was said it will take five years to put them in place. It is close to two years now. If India carries out retaliatory terrorist acts, it will hurt Pakistan in equal measure.
India has to fight its war alone. India should not expect help from USA because it assists terrorists in Syria and calls them freedom fighters. India’s TV channels should not call people who blame India and say attacks were a conspiracy. The situation in Kashmir has to be under control. Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed has proved to be incompetent Chief Minister. Perks and security to Kashmiri separatist leaders should stop.
In Pakistan army controls the government. Pakistan claims it has no control over terrorists who are non-state actors. Terrorists who attack India are abetted by Pak army and ISI and are not non-state actors. Killing Indian soldiers is an act of war. India should respond accordingly.

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.

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