Surrogacy in Kolkata on the increase

By Sun Narin

Childless families in Kolkata are now in favor of finding the surrogate mothers to bear the children for them. The number of surrogacy is on the increase, according to the medical professionals.

Dr. Rohit Gutgutia, Medical Director of Neotia Healthcare Initiative Limited, at Bhagirathi Neotia Woman & Child Care Centre (BNCCCW Kolkata) said that with the increasing awareness of artificial reproductive technologies, number of queries regarding surrogacy cases is also increasing day by day in Kolkata, adding that a lot of people from Kolkata have come to do the counseling.

He said: “We deal with 1-2 surrogacy cases per month. There are quite a fair lot of people in Kolkata, going for surrogacy. About 8- 10 couples every month enquire regarding options of surrogacy.” However, he said that when properly counseled, they realize that there are other treatment options they were not aware of. Hence, couples medically suited for surrogacy are much less than couples enquiring for surrogacy.

He said that many couples coming in his clinic have very little knowledge of surrogacy, but some couples are there who have actual knowledge what surrogacy is, these couples after rigorous counseling and explanation of other treatment options, happily follow those alternative treatments, which are best suited for them.

Genome The Fertility Clinic in Kolkata also sees the rise of the surrogacy. There have been from 18 to 20 cases of the surrogacy cases in the last couple years and a lot of counseling for the surrogacy, according to the medical expert from the clinic.

Having seen the other couples who are successful in finding the surrogate mother, a couple of Mrs Rinki Das (30) from Howrah district went to discuss with the doctor and then they started couple months ago finding the woman who can be the surrogate mother.

“I can afford only maximum of 2 lakhs for the surrogate mother. I need the healthy woman with the age below 30.” Mr Ajay Shaw (38) who is residing in Kolkata, said that his wife (36) was not able to be pregnant; therefore, he decided to find the surrogate mother, but so far he have not found yet.

Some websites have become the place for the childless families residing in Kolkata to post the information of finding the surrogate mother. Mr Vikram Bali, residing in Kolkata posted the information to find the surrogate mother, but he could not find so he gave it up and asked for the adopted child.

According to data compiled by the National ART (artificial reproductive techniques) Registry of India (NARI), from 50-odd cases in 2004 there has been a near 300 per cent jump to 158 cases in 2005. Gujarat alone accounts for 75 of these cases, 16 were reported from Chennai, 15 from Hyderabad, and the rest from other major cities in India.

India is emerging as a leader in international surrogacy. Surrogacy in India is much more simpler and cost effective than anywhere else in the world. The surrogacy market in India is estimated to be between Rs 1,000 and 5,000 crore, considerably lower (about, a fourth of what they would cost in the United States). That has again increased the international confidence in going in for surrogacy in India. The status-conscious lower middle class is resorting to surrogacy for fulfilling its material and financial needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No Alteration To Act, says the CIC Commissioner

By Sun Narin

Today, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office revealed the financial assets of India’s ministers online after public outrage at corruption sparked protests by tens of thousands in support of an anti-graft hunger striker.

Singh declared personal assets of about 50 million rupees ($1.1 million) on his official website. Also, the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee declared his net worth at 12.6 million rupees and his wife’s at 17.8 million rupees.

At the same time, on Saturday, Asian Center for Human Rights has demanded an amendment to the Right to Information Act in the 2010-11 report titled “RTI activists: Sitting ducks of India” and also an inclusion of a separate chapter ~ “Protection of those seeking information under the (RTI) Act”. The reports says that the activists are extremely vulnerable as they live in the same areas as the corrupt public authorities, political leaders and mafia who do not want information about their illegal activities to be disclosed.

However, in response to the urge of the Human Rights report to the RTI Act amendment, the Central Information Commissioner Mr Shri Shailesh Gandhi says that there is “no need to change the law”, but a lot of strategies have to be carried out strictly for the safety of the RTI activists.

“Most of RTI activists are not in favor of any amendment to law because they feel that if any amendment be made, law will be diluted by bringing other changes in the law,” he said. However, he said that the police commission and chief minister of the states play an important role in taking actions for the protection and security of the activists.

“The law by itself protects the activists, but there are strategies for that. When any case happens, the commission has to order the police to take care of them [activists] and take actions immediately. When there is a murder or assault, the chief minister of the states should ask the police commission to investigate the murder and protect the activists. All the information which sought by the activists has to be put into public domain [websites],” he said.

At least 12 RTI activists, including Sheha Masood of Bhopal, have been “murdered” since last year for seeking information to “promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority” of India, according to the report.

“Protection is an important issue, especially when one considers the frequent attacks on RTI activists. If the measures are considered, activists would be able to take legal action. Right to Information Act 2005 offers no such protection,” says the director of ACHR Suhas Chakma.

“The Central Information Commission and the State Information Commission are not mandated either to deal with such threats or attacks or to provide protection when needed,” says Mr Suhas Chakma.

People Affected by Sardar Sarovar Dam Demands Urgent Needs,

People Affected by Sardar Sarovar Dam Demands Urgent Needs,

By Sun Narin

Thousands of people in the affected villages of Alirajpur of Madhya Pradesh States by the Sardar Sarovar Dam project (SSP) have been facing food insecurity and chronic hunger. They are demanding the government to take immediate actions to provide immediate assistance to the villagers, according Supreme Court’s State Advisor to the Right to Food Commissioners’ Office.

Mr Sachin Kumar Jain, Supreme Court’s State Advisor to the Right to Food Commissioners’ Office said that: “People are now in hunger. Children are living in malnutrition. There are no livelihood opportunities and livestock left for them because of the submergence.” He has also appealed to the State and Central government to add on the immediate support to each family for the basic need and provide the proper support for those marginalized people.

“Around 850 families are worst affected. People have moved because of bad rehabilitation and human rights violation over there. We also expect that their (administration’s) accountability will also be fixed and we request the Government of Madhya Pradesh to immediately make arrangements for public transport system in submergence affected villages,” he says.

Social development advocacy organization VIKAS SAMVAD in cooperation with the Commissioners has just released the latest report titled the Valley of Food Insecurity and Chronic hunger of the people suffered from the SSP and has submitted to the Commissioner’s of the Supreme Court.

The report has covered the complaint of the villagers in those affect areas. Mr Khanjan Singh who lives in the village claimed that: “It has been 15 years since our land went under the water. We did not get any compensation for the animals, land, and trees that we lost.”

Mr Dhaniya Patel, an elderly man from the villages said in the report that, “The government thinks that we are enjoying ourselves here. It is for you to see whether we are enjoying ourselves or starving. The supply through the PDS has been irregular in the village since submergence.”
Most of the benefits from the government-sponsored welfare schemes are denied to the women. So far there were only two institutional deliveries in the village. There are no transport linkages to the villages, which in the case of emergency, creates disastrous situations, the reports says.

Mr Sachin Kumar Jain said the now the court has directed the government to provide the immediate assistance to the people and has issued about 80 interim orders directing the government the proper implementation of the government schemes like the ICDS, MDM, PDS, and MREGA.

SSP is one of the five largest and controversial dam construction projects in India. According to the government figures 193 villages of Madhya Pradesh will be submerged when SSP is at its full height of 138.68 metres. Out of the 193 displaced villages, 15 villages are from the Alirajpur District.

 

 

 

Famine spreads further in Somalia

FAO calls for stepped up response

5 September 2011, Nairobi/Rome-  – FAO today called for increased efforts to stem the food crisis in the Horn of Africa as famine spread to a sixth area of Somalia, threatening  750 000 people with starving to death in the next four months.
Latest data released today by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSNAU), which is managed by FAO in close collaboration with USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), indicated that famine has spread to Bay region, one of Somalia’s most productive areas. Five other regions had previously been declared in a state of famine.

Together with ongoing crises in the rest of the country, the number of Somalis in need of humanitarian assistance has increased from 2.4 million to 4 million in the last eight months, with 3 million of them in the country’s south.

Bleak picture

“Though these figures paint a bleak picture for Somalia, there is a window of opportunity for the humanitarian community to stop and reverse this undesirable trend by supporting farmers and herders in addition to other emergency interventions,” Luca Alinovi, FAO’s Officer in Charge for Somalia, told a press conference in Nairobi.

Bay region is a breadbasket for Somalia, producing over 80 percent of the country’s sorghum. Record levels of acute malnutrition have been registered there, with 58 percent of children under five acutely malnourished, and a crude death of more than two deaths per 10 000 per day.

Bay region joins five other areas hit by famine including Bakool agropastoral communities in Lower Shabelle region, the agropastoral areas of Balcad and Cadale districts of Middle Shabelle, the Afgoye corridor IDP settlement, and the Mogadishu IDP community.

Widespread famine

Despite current interventions, projections indicate that famine will become widespread throughout southern Somalia by the end of 2011.

“In the current food security situation, famine conditions are expected to spread to agropastoral populations in Gedo Hiran Middle Shabelle and Juba regions and the riverine populations of Juba and Gedo in the coming four months,” said Grainne Moloney, FSNAU’s Chief Technical Adviser.

Post-harvest finding showed this year’s cereal crop to be the lowest in 17 years. Dwindling stocks of local cereals have sent cereal prices soaring 300 percent over the last year and nearly half a million acutely malnourished children across Somalia require urgent nutritional treatment.

FAO has appealed for $70 million for Somalia to provide agricultural emergency assistance for one million farmers and herders. With increasing access to many parts of southern Somalia, FAO is currently carrying out emergency interventions and is opening two new offices in Mogadishu and Dolo and several suboffices in each region.

Improved seeds

“We have already embarked on mass production of improved seeds and procured 5 000 tonnes of fertilizer, among other farm inputs, in preparation for the next planting season from October to December,” said Alinovi.  FAO’s current interventions are benefiting of over one million people in Somalia’s most affected regions.

FAO has received confirmed donations of $20 million from the United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), Australia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, and another $21 million in pledges from the European Commission – Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), the United States of America, Belgium and the World Bank. Talks with other countries are ongoing.

Famine is classified using a tool called the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). FSNAU and FEWS NET adhere to the IPC standards when declaring a famine on the basis of at least  three criteria being present: severe lack of food access for 20 percent of the population, acute malnutrition exceeding 30 percent and a Crude Death Rate exceeding two deaths per 10 000 population per day.

The current crisis affects the whole Horn of Africa region including the northern part of Kenya and southern parts of Ethiopia and Djibouti where large areas are classified as being in a state of humanitarian emergency.

RTI activists or ‘sitting ducks’ in India

By Sun Narin

Asian Center for Human Rights has demanded an amendment to the Right to Information Act and also an inclusion of a separate chapter ~ “Protection of those seeking information under the (RTI) Act”. The move comes close on the heels of a 2010-11 report titled “RTI activists: Sitting ducks of India”.

“Protection is an important issue, especially when one considers the frequent attacks on RTI activists. If the measures are considered, activists would be able to take legal action. Right to Information Act 2005 offers no such protection,” says the director of ACHR Suhas Chakma.

At least 12 RTI activists, including Ms Shehla Masood of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, have been murdered for seeking information to “promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority” of India, according to the report. Even policeman seeking information did not escape death for seeking information under the Right to Information Act 2005, says the report.

RTI activists are extremely vulnerable as they live in close vicinity of corrupt public officials, political leaders and mafia, reveals the report.

“The Central Information Commission and the State Information Commission are not mandated either to deal with such threats or attacks or to provide protection when needed,” says ACHR.

He adds that the government is discussing measures to protect whistleblowers but one wonders how much more blood would be shed before officials intervene. “That may not be sufficient to protect the RTI activists. They need not necessarily be whistleblowers ~ they are information seekers. As more and more people are killed, the government will be forced to intervene,” he says.

However, Act 2005 is to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, as stated in the Act.

 

 

‘Facebook plans to add music services’

1 September 2011

press trust of india
NEW YORK, 1 SEPT: Facebook Inc is preparing changes designed to make the site a hub for listening to music, watching movies and playing videogames in much the same way people already use the social network site to share personal media like photos and videos.
“Facebook Inc is preparing changes designed to make the site a hub for listening to music, watching movies and playing videogames,” the ‘Wall Street Journal’ reported citing a source.
Facebook Inc has recently said that it will begin letting online music services such as Spotify AB and Rdio Inc publish user activity on Facebook pages, much like actions such as adding friends or “liking” websites.
The move is part of a larger effort at Facebook Inc to improve the discovery of all types of media content on the site.
If finalised, the changes could be announced at Facebook Inc f8 developer conference in late September, the report said attributing a person familiar with the matter.
The Facebook initiative is designed to integrate the social-media giant more closely with services that let users stream free music or an unlimited amount of music for a monthly fee.
By contrast, Google and Amazon.com recently started “cloud” music services that let users upload their personal music collections to remote servers and listen to them remotely, and Apple is preparing to start a similar offering.
The report said that in some cases, music services could create a player that would sit within Facebook, letting users hear music without leaving the site. However, the music itself would still be delivered through the third-party service, which users would be required to log in to before listening.
The new arrangement wouldn’t represent a partnership with any particular music service, it added.
Meanwhile, the report said that Time Warner Inc’s Warner Brothers movie studio in recent months has begun renting movies on Facebook.
As with the proposed music offerings, users watch the movies on Facebook, but they are delivered by third parties. Warner Bros charges 30 to 40 Facebook credits for the rentals, with the site taking a 30 per cent fee, its standard cut of transactions using its proprietary currency. A Facebook  credit is worth 10 cents.

It is time for the United States to start investing in Cambodia

It is time for the United States to start investing in Cambodia to compete with China’s increasing investment in Cambodia.

China tops the list of investors in Cambodia, which mostly focus on agriculture, mining and dams. Bilateral trade between Cambodia and China reached $498 million in the first quarter of this year, a 216 per cent rise from $157.5 million in the corresponding period last year, according to statistics available from the Council for Development of Cambodia.

This is the news service from Xinhua.

Recently, a group of U.S. investors from the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council on Thursday visited Cambodia to observe investment opportunities and to boost trade and investment ties between U.S. and ASEAN member countries.
The firms are in the businesses of oil and gas, manufacturing industries, automobile, financial industry, technologies, telecommunications and health.

“The visit will be a good opportunity for the U.S. investors to learn about Cambodia’s potentials and it will also build stronger economic and trade relations between the U.S. and ASEAN member countries,” said Frances Zwenig, the Counselor of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council in the news service of Xinhua.

During the first half of this year, the Council for the Development of Cambodia had reported that the U.S. investment projects in Cambodia was 142 million U.S. dollars, compared to the only 34.5 million U.S. dollars at the same period last year.

On the trade side, the two countries’ bilateral trade was around one billion U.S. dollars in the first half of this year, mostly Cambodia’s garment exports to the United States, according to the record of the Commerce Ministry.

Meanwhile, Hun Sen said Cambodia’s economic growth was currently supported by garment industry, tourism, agriculture and real estate, and the government had been encouraging foreign investors to put their ventures in extractive industries including mining, oil and gas in order to boost the economic growth.

The premier also asked the U.S. investors to consider investing in agriculture by setting up processing plants of rice, corn, cassava and rubber.

The delegation’s visit to Cambodia was made just two weeks after the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank) and Cambodia Chamber of Commerce inked deal on trade loan guarantees to boost trade between the two countries.

Under the agreement, Exim Bank will provide loan guarantees to underwrite the risk of nonpayment of medium- and long-term loans extended by commercial banks to Cambodian buyers of U.S. goods and services.