Q 1) What do you mean by surrogacy? What are the major concerns associated with commercial surrogacy in India? Critically discuss the Surrogacy (Regulation) bill, 2016 (GS-2) Answer: Surrogacy refers to a contract in which a woman carries a pregnancy “for” another couple. Major concerns wrt commercial surrogacy:
- Deaths of surrogate mothers due to neglect of health.
- Baby Manji Yamada case - Japanese couple who availed of surrogacy in India, divorced while the surrogate mother was pregnant. They then refused to take ownership of child.
- Uncertainties of pregnancy - when twins/triplets are born in place of a single child.
- preventing exploitation of women especially those from rural and tribal belts.
- India is used as a tourist spot for foreign couples exploiting loopholes of the law.
- Permits surrogacy only for the Indian couples who cannot have children by natural methods or the technologies present in this field.
- Couples married for 5 years between the age group 23-50 years for women and 26-55 years for men who do not have a surviving child are eligible for surrogacy.
- The surrogate mother should be a close relative of the intending couple in the age group of 25-35 years and shall act as surrogate only once in her lifetime.
- The child born through surrogacy will have the rights of a biological child.
- OCIs, NRIs, foreigners, unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and homosexual couples are barred from commissioning the services of surrogate mothers.
- On supply side, increased incomes of men allow women to withdraw from workforce.
- On demand side, there is a lower demand for women due to:
a) Farm mechanization
b) Insufficient availability of type of jobs that women prefer
c) Security concerns & social norms
- Poorly equipped with skills and persisting low literacy rates
- Unemployment challenge in transition to a service led economy
- India ratified the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1993.
- The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
- The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
- In Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan SC formulated guidelines for the protection against sexual harassment of working women at their place of work.
- Pradhan Mantri Mahila Shakti Kendra scheme – empowerment of rural women.
- National Creche Scheme – day care facilities to children of age group of 6 months to 6 years of working women.
- Rashtriya Mahila Kosh – micro credit to poor women for various livelihood supports.
- Working women hostels – safe accommodation for women working away from their place of residence.
- It may be used as a bargaining point for the donor country to flex India’s stance in some issue of importance.
- India has a long-standing policy of refusing foreign aid with disasters.
- India’s National Disaster Management Plan, which was published in 2016, states that the government “does not issue any appeal for foreign assistance in the wake of a disaster.”
- Although the Indian government is not accepting help from foreign nations, it’s still welcoming contributions from non-resident Indians, people of Indian origin and non-government organizations
- It puts national pride before welfare of citizens.
- It negates the idea that nation exists to serve its citizens better.
- It may jeopardise the bilateral relations with the donor nation and also the Indian immigrants there.
- The issue of disaster rescue and rehabilitation should not be politicised between two nations’ bilateral struggles.
- Generally religious intolerance arises in the society and divides the nation.
- Divisive and vicious media propaganda and failure of media to play a neutral role.
- Communal politics of some fringe groups and support from mainstream political parties.
- Failure of law and order mechanism to prevent events like the mob lynchings by Gau Rakshak groups, Ghar Wapsi and communally hatred propaganda on social media websites.
- Suppressing dissenting opinions as witnessed in the deaths of journalists life Gauri Lankesh.