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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 29th August, 2016

  • August 29, 2016
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Aug 2016, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 29th August, 2016

 

NATIONAL

 

TOPIC:

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

General Studies 1

  • Social empowerment

 

Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 (continued..)

(This is part two of the article on surrogacy regulation bill)

Part one included background on surrogacy, features of bill, critical overview of bill)

Flaws identified in bill

Altruistic surrogacy

  • The doctors who counsel the patient for surrogate child ask them to bring a relative who is willing to bear the child for them. But, in reality, rarely couples go for relatives or any relative agrees for such arrangement.
  • Kidney and organ donation has proved that altruism is not in the psyche. Similarly, love and affection within the family is not necessarily going to lead to support altruistic surrogacy. Also, organ donation involves wider scope of options (males + females) whereas surrogacy narrows down to females only (preferably young)
  • By taking ‘compensation’ out of surrogacy and making it an altruistic procedure, the female might get coerced into it.
  • The clause of a close relative raises questions like- what if the family does not have close relatives and if they have but there is no willing to be a surrogate.
  • Even complicated is the case when the biological mother close in the family develops emotional bonding and expresses not to part with baby.

Prejudicial provisions

  • The bill privileges only one kind of family—the conventional heterosexual marriage.
  • Unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners are barred from commissioning the services of surrogate mothers.
  • Overseas Indians and foreigners cannot go for surrogacy.
  • Section 377 criminalizes certain forms of sexual intercourse in the LGBT population. And surrogacy is a practice that is devoid of sexual act. But still surrogacy is prohibited for them.

Surrogacy permitted if first child is disabled

  • The disabled child needs special care and attention from parents.
  • A second child can complicate matters, and in worse case, the first child can be neglected.

 

Good practices ignored

  • Many successful guidelines were operating in the field which made surrogacy a complication-free affair.
  • So, the need was to institutionalise these guidelines by going one step further. The present bill did not consider them wholly during formulation.

Government’s rationale behind the bill

  • Trigger of debate
    • A Japanese couple separated amidst their commissioning of a surrogate baby in India. This led to baby being parentless and stateless (surrogacy not legal in Japan)
    • Australian couple had twins through surrogacy. They refused to take another child.
    • A single mother from Chennai became surrogate mother to financially empower her. However, due to middlemen, she received only 50% of the payment.
  • These incidents highlight disregard for the rights of the surrogate mother and child.
  • Thus the objective is to protect the vulnerable women who are exploited.
  • If compensation is provided, a window for commercialisation will open. Hence, only altruistic surrogacy is permitted.
  • It believes that society needs to evolve and embrace the underutilised option of adoption which gives an orphan a home and future and the childless couple a complete family.
  • The government makes its stand clear on not recognising homosexuals or live-in relationships. (Although SC has recognised it.)
  • It also shows that government will not allow exploitation of Indian women by foreigners. (Foreigners account for 80% of surrogacy births in India due to most countries barring commercial surrogacy.)
  • It has underlined that India has certain culture and ethos and it will permit surrogacy to happen only if done through altruistic method and nothing beyond that.

Support for the bill

  • The IVF experts and medical fraternity is divided on the surrogacy issue.
  • Some have welcomed it by stating that the unregulated surrogacy industry had become exploitative of poor, hapless women.
  • There was a dire need to streamline and clear the ambiguity around surrogacy and IVF rules and laws of which this bill is considered as first step.

Surrogacy hub- Anand, Gujarat

  • Anand is considered ground zero with its countless IVF clinics and ready availability of surrogates.
  • The women there believe that it is a good step by government to protect their rights. But, the scope is very strict.
  • For many surrogate mothers, surrogacy is a kind of ‘employment’ where women with her consent as well as family’s support, provide a service of giving priceless joy of child and in return get compensated for it.
  • They object to word ‘commercial surrogacy’. According to them, surrogacy is not only about ‘womb on rent’. It is also the bond shared by couple and surrogate mother.
  • With altruistic surrogacy only legal surrogacy option, many women feel it will not be much successful as surrogacy is undertaken to support their families with the remuneration they are paid for their service.

 

How world sees surrogacy

  • Russia, Ukraine, few states in US permit commercial surrogacy.
  • France and Germany ban surrogacy. UK recognises non-commercial surrogacy, few states US recognises compensatory surrogacy, now Israel is also opening to it.

Comparing proposed surrogacy law of India and existing law in UK

  India UK
On commercial surrogacy ·         Will be banned within 10 months of notification of Act ·         Banned in UK

·         ‘Reasonable expenses’ can be paid, unless otherwise authorised by court

 

On commissioning parent ·         Only childless couples who have been married for five years are eligible.

·         Also, couples who have a biological child who is mentally or physically challenged also qualify.

·         Must be over 18

·         Married, civil partners or living together in an enduring family relationship

·         Special rules for unmarried/same sex couple

·         One of the commissioning parents must be biologically linked to the child.

On single parents ·         Singles or those in a homosexual relationship cannot apply ·         Not allowed
On status of surrogate ·         Legal parents will be the couple commissioning the surrogacy, and not the surrogate mother.

·         A child born through surrogacy will have the same rights as a biological child.

·         Surrogate mother of a child born through surrogacy is the legal mother.

·         Her name appears in the birth certificate

·         Commissioning parents have to later obtain a parental order– which is similar to an adoption order- for child’s custody

On blood relatives ·         “Close relatives” can become surrogate mothers; will be better defined in the Rules. ·         Only blood relatives can become surrogate mothers for altruistic purposes

Conclusion

  • Government has to be more practical with allowing altruistic surrogacy along with commercial surrogacy but with more stringent regulation Instead of going from one extreme of non-regulation of surrogacy to complete ban on commercial surrogacy.
  • What kind of people are registering in this field, what linkages exist with the would-be surrogate mothers, who finds the surrogate mother etc. should be questions asked.
  • Government needs to put regulations to crack down on touts across the country.
  • Government should mandate that surrogacy and other such assisted reproductive procedures be done only through registered clinics and doctors and all this information be put out online.
  • Easily accessible redressal forums and helplines would have further assisted in bringing in transparency to protect the couple and the surrogate mother.
  • Blacklisting errant clinics indulging in illegal practices (including sex selection) and uploading their status on the website would also ensure that doctors and clinics immunise their premises from touts.
  • Determine course of action if baby is born with disabilities or is still born. Does the surrogate mother still get her payment? What if there are twins and parents are not willing to take the second child? Whose responsibility shall it be to raise the child? What should be the legal course of action followed? These questions should be given equal attention.
  • Government should talk with more practitioners in the field, discuss with single parents and live-in couples to get an overview.
  • There should be an appropriate mechanism to judge the suitability of surrogate parents– citizens or foreigners should not matter. An agency along the lines of the Central Adoption Resource Agency- that administers adoption of Indian children by foreigners- could be created to regulate surrogacy.

The bill shall be going to Standing Committee and then tabled in Parliament. It is expected that view from all over the country shall be represented in the Parliament and appropriate actions will be taken by government to amend the provisions of bill.

Connecting the dots:

  • What in your opinion should be the major provisions of a surrogacy regulation bill?

 

NATIONAL

 

TOPIC:

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

General Studies 3

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to mobilization of resources, growth, development; Government Budgeting.

 

GST- Can India become Check-post Free?

Inspections that make no sense—

The philosophy of layers of inspections at every stage has led to a laid-back system while also, at the same time, becoming micro-level irritants which simply adds up to a sorry business environment in India.

Example: During immigration at an Indian airport—a security official is deployed to check whether the passport has actually been stamped by the immigration officer — as viewed analytically, to check whether his colleague, the immigration officer, is not inept and is doing his job of stamping the passport in the first place

 

Key Facts:

  • The current complex tax structure has led to the logistics costs in India, at around 14% of the value of goods—among the most expensive in the world.
  • Trucks are idle for about 40 % of the time — queuing up, filling forms and paying CST and octroi at numerous check-posts.
  • A check-post free movement can bring down the transportation time and cost by 30% and 20% respectively.

 

Small details matter—

  • Government should take these small details into consideration as it not only reduces costs and boosts investor’s confidence but also pave way for better & seamless positioning of services leading to ‘Ease of Business’.
  • With the passage of Goods & Services Tax (GST), the focus has shifted to the implementation aspect of it which would certainly entail the re-engineering of various processes at each stage at the State level.
  • The domains of the taxation structure, exemptions and special treatment to different groups need to be segregated and prioritization needs to be shifted towards a ‘Checkpost-mukt’ environment by peeling off layers of checks and procedures (nakas where trucks wait in long queues).

 

Coming together of Transparent Procedures—

Commitment from States:

  • Do away with check-posts and restrict to conducting random checks to deter illegality (if in doubts).
  • Agree and work on coming up with a standardised electronic invoice— the only document required by a transporter to meet the legal obligations contained in Sections 12 and 23 (cease of harassment of drivers on their way with reduction in both time and corruption).
  • Officers to compulsorily record a central database if a vehicle is stopped with a valid reason for their action— should be subject to Right to Information (RTI) Act— should be undertaken in a transparent manner with minimum harassment and rent-seeking attitude (To part ways with deep-rooted corruption fostered by a multi-tax system).
  • Mandatory usage of CCTV if physical examination of goods takes place— ensure greater transparency in the conduct of officers on the road.

Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN):

  • Developing an e-invoice that can be filled and submitted online (agreed to by the States)—Facilitate online registration, GST credits, tax payment and return filing seamlessly amongst multiple stake-holders.
  • “Block-chain” technology: Offers a historic opportunity to develop a GSTN based on “distributed ledgers”.
  • Usage of mobile-based internet and apps will be imperative in facilitating information flow between the states.
  • Usage of Smart tags and scanners.
  • Integration of declaration for export and import shipments with the customs IT system or ICEGATE and restriction of information to be provided to the ‘proof of customs declaration ‘and ‘payment of duty’.

 

In a nutshell—

  • India needs to revolutionize its ‘transportation’ and ‘Business’ environment and for these to succeed it needs to take care of 1% of the transportation activity—‘vested interests’ which leads to decline in security, revenue leakage and smuggling and results in over-burdening the other 99% with redundant procedures and transaction costs
  • Initiatives that have been taken by the Government to rope in best practices with SWIFT (Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade)
  • Creation of a single window for export and import procedures
  • Integrates processes related to several agencies into one ensuring that several ‘check-posts’ are eliminated at one go (if implemented properly).
  • Results: Reduction in costs and elimination of micro-level irritants that hampers trading across India’s borders, thereby boosting investors interested in participating in ‘Making in India’.

More initiatives need to be conceptualized and worked upon in order to enter an ‘Indian century’ marked by efficiency and excellence.

Connecting the Dots:

  • Examine the cost of existing trade barriers in India and how has it impacted the economy? Can ‘GST’ prove to be a game-changer in alleviating the logistical pain of India? Discuss.

 

Related articles:

The Big Picture – GST Constitutional Amendment Cleared: What’s the Road Ahead?

The Big Picture – GST- Future and Implications

Goods and Service Tax (GST) Logjam: GST by another name

FAQ on GST

GST: A high standard rate would impact prices and hamper acceptance

GST may face hurdles before rollout

 

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