|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Thursday, August 19, 1999
move, wrong timing
the curse of barrenness
politics of disqualification
Commission and Medical Services
Right move, wrong timing
INDIA'S draft nuclear doctrine presented to the world by National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra in New Delhi on Tuesday has basically codified what has, by and large, been this country's known position on sensitive nuclear issues, especially after last year's Pokhran blasts. First, New Delhi has been clear about pursuing a doctrine of credible minimum nuclear deterrence. Second, the present government has often said that India will not be the first to use nuclear weapons. Third, any nuclear attack on this country and its forces will invite "punitive retaliation". Fourth, New Delhi will not use nuclear weapons against states which do not possess them or are not aligned with a nuclear weapons power. Fifth, India will employ nuclear forces and weapons as part of deterrence. The National Security Advisory Board has suggested that Indian deterrence should be based on a "triad of aircraft, mobile land-based missiles and sea-based assets". The idea behind it is to ensure survivability of the nation in all situations of a nuclear attack. Sixth, a robust command and control system will be set up to handle nuclear weapons. The nuclear button will be with the Prime Minister or his designated successor(s). Obviously, the armed forces will have no discretionary power for launching nuclear weapons. The key will be held by the political leadership of the day.
While one cannot find
fault with the broad outlines of the draft nuclear
doctrine, the timing of the announcement makes it highly
suspect. The whole exercise looks politically motivated.
Where was the need to come out with such proposals when
these cannot be adopted before the formation of a new
government? Why then this indecent hurry? Apparently the
BJP establishment wants to derive the maximum mileage out
of the announcement to further consolidate its vote bank.
This could have been avoided keeping in view of its grave
political and diplomatic implications. The BJP-led
coalition government has rightly been boasting about
international goodwill that this county has been able to
generate because of the restraint it showed in responding
to the aggressive moves by Pakistan. Much of that
goodwill will be diluted by this ill-timed announcement.
True, the USA today has a better understanding of India's
national imperatives and security concerns than ever
before. Still, the fact is that the USA as the sole super
power is calling the shots and imposing its will on the
world. As it is, the USA has already reacted sharply; so
will other western powers. It is, of course, necessary to
tell the world that we mean business and that we will not
allow our national security interests to be compromised.
But such matters are best conveyed through diplomatic
channels in a sophisticated manner rather than through
public rhetoric. New Delhi's declaration will, in all
probability, be misunderstood, especially against the
backdrop of India's known stand on the CTBT and the NPT.
In sum, the timing of the announcement will hardly help
India diplomatically. Rather it might give certain wrong
signals contrary to New Delhi's genuine intentions and
purpose on nuclear rights and wrongs. For, evolving a
credible nuclear doctrine is not a simple task as the
country is today in the midst of a long transition and
transformation process. So, independence without
antagonism is a goal that South Block should strive for.
In today's sophisticated world, an amateurish handling of
sensitive matters cannot help the country to become a
critical factor in reforming the existing global nuclear
THE CPM, the CPI and the All India Forward Bloc - the main parties representing the Left Front - too have completed the formality of releasing their respective election manifestos. The point on which there is no disagreement among them is the resolve to strengthen the Left, socialist and secular forces. The Left parties for long have been known to be suffering from political myopia. But their reference to the need for including the socialists and the secularists in the movement against communalism suggests that they are close to becoming politically blind. The report that some of the most ardent champions of socialism and secularism and equally vehement critics of the politics of communalism are now on the side of the RSS-controlled Bharatiya Janata Party has evidently reached the headquarters of the Left parties. Of course, the fact that a large number of former socialists and secularists are now with the BJP does not mean that the Leftists too should abandon the agenda which helped give shape and substance to the short-lived Third Front.The need for supporting the forces of secularism is as relevant today as it was when the BJP embraced the Hindutva agenda or when the Babri Masjid was brought down by frenzied kar sewaks. However, the Left parties would have to accept that they are more guilty than the other secular parties of creating a situation which helped the BJP emerge as the main political party in the country. Today, with the welcome exception of the Forward Bloc, both the CPI and the CPM are willing to do business with the Congress because their main concern is to keep out the BJP. Why? Because "it is out and out a communal party" and if it is not stopped from returning to power such a development "can pave the way for a neo-fascist rule with Hindutva characteristics".
The problem with the
Left parties is that they have never practised positive
politics at the national level. After the Emergency the
CPI abandoned its policy of tactical support to the
Congress. Over a period of time promoting
anti-Congressism became the fulltime political occupation
of the Leftists. They grabbed the first opportunity which
came their way for removing the Congress from power by
extending outside support to Mr V. P. Singh in 1989.
Their anti-Congressism blinded them to the fact that they
had acquired the dubious distinction of being with the
BJP in the matter of keeping Mr V. P. Singh in power. In
effect, the Left and secular forces created a political
vacuum through a strident campaigns against the Congress
which they were not capable of filling. The Third Front
experiment was bound to fail for reasons which have
become more clear with the formal demise of the Janata
Dal. Who created the political space which has now been
captured by the BJP as a senior partner of the National
Democratic Alliance? Yesterday the Left parties were
anti-Congress and today they have become anti-BJP. The
Left parties evidently need to take lessons from
management gurus in positive thinking. In politics, as in
life, no one likes those who are forever criticising
others. Instead of being anti-Congress one day and
anti-BJP the next day the Left should adopt an aggressive
policy of being just pro-Left today and ever hereafter.
They should throw their political weight and passion
behind such an approach for influencing voters and
winning elections. It is pointless for Mr Jyoti Basu to
admit now that the CPM politburo's decision not to let
him accept the offer of becoming Prime Minister was a
historical blunder or that he would accept the offer if
made again after the Lok Sabha elections. He should know
that opportunity, particular politically opportunity,
never knocks twice. Nevertheless, if the Left parties
bury their differences and spread out across the country,
like the BJP has, they can in the not too distant a
future emerge as the untried political option. By
remaining rooted to the policy of practising armchair
politics they are only helping the forces they have
identified as not good for the health of the country to
gain in strength.
JD(U)s surrender terms
RECOURSE to a generous give and take has finally helped the BJP and the Janata Dal (U) thrash out a seat-sharing agreement in both Karnataka and Bihar. A weakened Janata Dal has been forced to give and give, and a resurgent and over-ambitious BJP has indulged in take and take more. This skewed arrangement is glaring in the southern state and only thinly concealed in Bihar. Even so former Railway Minister Nitish Kumar has accused the saffron party of being greedy and showing poor taste in spurning equal sharing of seats. Now the Big Brother BJP will fight from 29 constituencies, down from 32 and the Samata-Janata Dal combine, going about as JD (U), will fight 25, an increase of three seats over the 1998 figure. If Mr Ram Vilas Paswans Hajipur seat is included, it means a loss of just two seats for the BJP. But the gain could be disproportionately large if the anti-Laloo Prasad Yadav mood, which is believed to be growing, veers round to supporting the Sharad Yadav Janata Dal. More than the dispute over seat-sharing, it is the initial reluctance and later indifference of the BJP leaders towards the JD(U) that has hurt men like Mr Nitish Kumar. He demonstrated his anger and frustration by boycotting top-level talks in Delhi and now openly distancing himself from the outcome. There are also reports that he has fallen out with Mr George Fernandes and wants to reclaim the safe Kurmi-dominated Nalanda seat which he gifted to the party president last year.
In Karnataka the socalled unity of the Janata parivar, which in effect was a bailout of the Janata Dal, has triggered many disuniting features. On the surface there is the bitter wrangle over the number of seats the BJP should retain. With barely 38 members in the 234-strong Assembly, the party wanted to fight two-thirds of the seats. At one time it brusquely told the negotiating partner to take it or leave it. Then at the instance of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who has to do much firefighting this month, the two sides patched up with the advantage going to the BJP. It will now contest from 129 constituencies, hoping to win from a good many of them to pitchfork its leader, Mr Yediyurappa, to the top post. At another level, the subterranian one, there is intense rivalry between the erstwhile Dal and the Lok Shakthi, each wanting to corner a lions share of the allotted seats. It is an unholy mess and the BJP hopes that the Kargil effect will contain the damage and propel it to the winning post.
There is similar
heartburning in Andhra Pradesh and a minor revolt in UP.
The TDP allotted the Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat to the BJP
but the irony is that it has large Muslim voters who are
opposed to the saffron party. It is angry as are the
voters. BJP supporters have physically attacked their
leaders for surrendering so much to the TDP, a sentiment
demonstrably evident among the JD(U) people in Karnataka.
In UP a firebrand Kalyan Singh supporter has failed to
get the party ticket and has vowed to destroy the party
in the state! He is the redoubtable Acharya Mandaleshwar
Sachhidanand Hari Sakshi Maharaj from Farrukhabad. The
rivals of the BJP are keenly watching how much he can
dilute the Kargil spirit.
THE strike that the Bangladesh Opposition leader and former Prime Minister, Mrs Khaleda Zia, organised recently to protest against the Awami League governments decision to grant India transit facilities illustrates both the significance of the Gujral doctrine of asymmetrical relations as well as its limitations. It also underscores the need for a strong framework of vigorous economic cooperation that alone can offset the negative aspects of a psychological condition, and counter the historical situation that makes India a factor in Bangladeshs internal politics. A role model is available in the growth triangles that enable Indonesians, Malaysians and Singaporeans to overcome traditional fears and suspicions through joint labour and which have inspired the little known BIMSTEC (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation) initiative.
It is no exaggeration to say that India and Bangladesh are no longer divided by any problem that is at all important to either country. Nor is it an over-simplification to say that there are no populist issues in Bangladesh that do not involve India. Mercifully, religion is no longer an active complication; nor the question of Bangladeshi Hindus. But the difference in size, resources, reach and potential is, recalling what the late Sri Lankan President J.R. Jayewardene had to say when the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation made a tentative beginning, India, the largest in every way, larger than all the rest of us combined, can by deeds and words create the confidence among us so necessary to make a beginning. Within that larger need to inspire confidence, there is a real danger that the India-Bangladesh relationship will deteriorate if it is allowed to remain stagnant. It is also axiomatic that relations will stagnate if, as Mr Muchkund Dubey, the former Foreign Secretary, told the Dhaka Rotary Club when he was High Commissioner, cooperation in the economic and other fields (is) conditional upon the solution of particular problems, howsoever important they may be.
Though Sheikh Hasina Wajed, the Prime Minister, is trying to steer a course that maintains constructive relations with India without playing into the hands of her opponents, hers is essentially a defensive posture. It does not tap the potential political dividend from taking the bull by the horns and investing unapologetically in positive cooperation. The immediate domestic response to such action might be adverse, with the Jammat-e-Islami whipping up chauvinistic sentiment in the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and even segments of the Awami League and Jatiyo party. But whoever heads the government in Dhaka will have to ride the storm courageously if the prospect of a stable equilibrium and of initiatives like the Timidity leaves the field open to Mrs Zia, who is trying hard to get on the comeback trail by attacking all Awami League initiatives the Chittagong Hill Tract pact, the Ganga agreement and, now, transit facilities. This need not necessarily mean that her BNP is flagrantly communal or virulently anti-Indian (regrettably, the two cannot be separated) in the same way as the Muslim League was or the Jamaat is. What it does mean is that Bangladeshi politicians, like their peers elsewhere, are eager to place expediency and party gains above the national interest. If Mrs Zia were Prime Minister and Sheikh Hasina the Opposition leader, the latter might also feel tempted to adopt similar strategies.
India remains the touchstone of all that matters for many Bangladeshis. On the eve of his first official visit to New Delhi as President, Gen Zia-ur-Rehman insisted on receiving exactly the same protocol courtesies that were extended to Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. His legitimacy in the eyes of his countrymen depended on demonstrating to them that India regarded him as Bangabandhus rightful heir. It was also revealing that General Zia went to considerable trouble to ensure that he was the first Head of Government to visit New Delhi after Indira Gandhis return to power in 1980. Gen Hussain Mohammed Ershad, who took the precaution of informing India before seizing power, was ecstatic five years later when Rajiv Gandhi agreed, apparently in a fit of absentmindedness, to include Nepal and China in riparian talks. He believed that the concession would take the wind out of the sails of the India lobby led by Sheikh Hasina.
Such is the mental conditioning of many Bangladeshis that, as Mr Dubey also said in his brilliant analysis of the bilateral equation, whatever step is taken is regarded either as a deliberate, pre-planned and conscious effort by India to dominate or having the potential of assuming a form of domination. But to plead this for inaction would be defeatist and counter-productive.
West Bengal, which might have played a catalytic part in relations, has not lived up to that challenge despite the much-discussed bus service. When not an actual handicap, the shared Bengali language and culture make a negligible impact on state-to-state ties. Worse, the Calcutta business community to which the Left Front has mortgaged its soul is responsible for a hardening of Bangladeshi suspicion of India. Fears were aroused during the euphoria of liberation when these traders visited Khulna, Jessore and other towns to stake out desirable real estate. Later, one heard many tales of short-changing exporting cheaper dolomite when limestone had been ordered and paid for soddy ingot moulds that soon cracked, and two-ply tyres substituted for the three-ply that bicycles and rickshaws use. Bangladeshis overlooked the responsibility of their own unscrupulous importers for these frauds; for them it was another stick with which to beat the imagined Big Brother.
Yet, not many two countries are as obviously complementary or share as many practical advantages for cooperation. India and Bangladesh have inherited the same physical and institutional infrastructure in communications, water management, administration and industrial development. Geography creates obvious freight and transport advantages. Technology and expertise are easily transferable because of similar socio-economic conditions. Indias highly diversified and sophisticated experience, especially in fields like software, can save Bangladesh having to re-invent the wheel.
Politically, India has been quite sagacious once it had got over the shock of Sheikh Mujibs assassination and had come to terms with Zias prickliness. Not even the most jaundiced pro-Pakistani element could convince anyone that todays Awami League is New Delhis tool. But ties must still be handled with finesse. A total abdication of interest would be taken for weakness, overt involvement resented as bullying. Indias attitude must be seen to be determined by permanent interests which could legitimately include an equitable peace in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and not sentimental attachment or personal equations.
If the proper
relationship is respected, it should not make much
difference who rules in Dhaka. If that understanding
fails, our eastern flank could easily become even more
vulnerable to hostile extraneous agencies ever ready to
exploit community grievances and strike at Indias
soft underbelly. Security, if not survival, demands that
every effort should be made to convince Bangladeshis that
it is not in their long-term interest to harbour forces
that are inimical to a stable India. The exercise
includes focusing more on politicians like Mrs Zia and
convincing them that, as the example of France and
Germany in the European Community shows, sound economics
can be the solvent for historys most tricky
AUGUST 15, which marked the last Independence Day of this millennium, has left a trail of sombre thoughts.
Gunnar Myrdal, Nobel laureate and highly respected author of the well-researched tome, Asian Drama: An Enquiry Into the Poverty of Nations, argued five decades ago that India would be a soft state. By soft he did not mean that India would be lacking in violence, brutality and cruelty. Rather his argument, which ran like a thematic strand through the three volumes, was that India would not be able to throw up a political leadership endowed with sufficient strength of will to enable it to take the hard decisions required for the amelioration of the masses.
The Swedish scholars pessimistic prophecy has come true. India has failed to produce a political leadership of the requisite calibre. Our leaders have shied away from taking the hard decisions required for tackling the major problems which impinge on the progress of the nation. Indias three most worrisome problems are: a rotten administration; rampant corruption; exploding population.
India has perhaps the worst administration among the major countries of the world. The British had put in place primarily a law-and-order apparatus. On gaining Independence, Indias leaders blindly adopted this colonial type of administrative system, which ultimately degenerated into a mere provider of employment rather than serving as a vibrant instrument to meet the needs of socio-economic progress. The degeneration has resulted in a bloated army of under-employed babus, inefficient, insensitive, corrupt and lacking in accountability. Indias feather-bedded bureaucracy is today not only a nightmare for the average citizen but also the single biggest obstacle to the nations advance.
The Fifth Pay Commission, while recommending massive hikes in the salaries of government employees, had emphasised that its recommendation presupposed that the government would simultaneously initiate administrative reforms. The commission wanted the strength of the bureaucracy to be cut by 30 per cent over 10 years. Another important reform recommended by it was that no file should be required to move more than three levels before a decision is taken.
In a despicable display of pusillanimity the Gujral government succumbed to the blackmail of the employees unions and timorously hiked the salaries, but on the question of administrative reforms it maintained a deafening silence. The Vajpayee government has done no better. While its caretaker status debars it from initiating administrative reforms, the government has gleefully announced a system of time-bound promotions for its junior employees, who are now feeling still more cock-a-hoop.
Having become inured to pervasive malfeasance, Indians no longer hang their heads in shame at India having earned the epithet of being one of the most corrupt countries of the world. Only countries like Pakistan, Indonesia and Nigeria are worse off than us. Corruption, like liquid, flows from top to bottom. By now there is a consensus among right-thinking people in the country that the single most effective step to curb corruption is to appoint a Lokpal at the Centre. And still all the Prime Ministers from Indira Gandhi to Atal Behari Vajpayee have developed cold feet when it has come to the crunch.
Corruption can be reduced substantially if a Lokpal is established, the CBI is granted autonomy and a system of government funding of political parties is introduced.
The abdication of responsibility by our leadership is perhaps the most glaring in the area of population control. Rapid population growth is the biggest reason for the prevalence of poverty, squalor, disease and illiteracy. Our demographic problem is so serious that mere recourse to education, persuasion and propaganda is not enough. We have to introduce a business-like carrot-and-stick scheme on a countrywide scale.
The votaries of voluntariness in family planning oppose an incentive-disincentive scheme because they are unnerved by the Chinese experiment. It is likely that Communist China, being a totalitarian state, has used the stick in some measure. But democratic India need not imitate China and have a draconian one-child family norm. We can have a more humane two-child family norm, taking recourse more to the carrot than the stick.
In the final analysis,
underlying all these problems are the difficulties
resulting from political instability. Most analysts are
veering round to the view that, if experience of this
last one decade is any guide, political stability cannot
be achieved without reforms in the political system. A
number of them have gone to the other extreme and
recommended replacement of the parliamentary system by
the presidential form of government.
ABOUT 400 valiant soldiers lost their lives in the recent conflict in Kargil. There has been a wave of sympathy for their families, and donations have poured into various funds. But money alone is not enough. Sometimes, the money given to a soldiers widow does not reach her, or is misappropriated by unscrupulous relatives. What is the remedy?
About 20 years ago, there was an incident, in which an Army officer and his wife both died of burns. It happened in Nainital, where the officer was posted. His wife was in the kitchen, and her clothes caught fire. She screamed, the officer rushed in, tried to douse the flames, and in the bargain, both sustained burns, resulting in the tragedy. They left behind two young boys, whose future seemed to be bleak. Very soon, relatives of both parents landed up at Nainital, claiming to be the next of kin, offering to take charge of the children, as well as the money which they were to get from the government, and the officers savings.
The CO realised that none of the relatives was really interested in the boys. All they wanted was to get their hands on the money. The boys were studying in Sherwood, and now faced the prospect of continuing their education in some village school. The CO went to Mr Montford, who was then the Principal of Sherwood College, and made a proposal. Would it be possible for the boys to continue in the school, if the money which the boys got after their fathers death was given to the school, and kept as a corpus, with the interest being used to pay their fees? Once the boys finished school, the corpus would be given to them. Montford agreed, and the CO then went to Delhi, met the officers concerned in Army Headquarters, and got the necessary paperwork done.
The boys continued to study in Sherwood, as their parents would have liked them to do. In time to come, they passed out from school, and following their fathers footsteps, joined the NDA. Today, both are commissioned officers, proudly wearing the Army uniform which their father wore. Perhaps one or both of them was in Kargil, in the thick of the fighting.
I sometimes wonder what would have happened if the CO had not done what he did. Instead of Sherwood, the orphans would have gone to some village school. Their relatives would have treated them shabbily, and the boys would have lived a life of misery, lamenting their misfortune. The chances of them becoming what they are would have been almost nil. Is there a lesson in this story.
What a soldiers
child needs is not money, but a good education, which
will give him an assured future. There are several
hundred large corporate houses, whose annual profits run
into crores. If each of them were to adopt the child of a
soldier who died or was disabled in Kargil, and put aside
a sum of say ten lakh rupees, as a corpus in a good
public school, it would do wonders. What Sherwood did for
the boys twenty years ago can be done even today, by
others like Mayo, Bishop Cotton, Lawrence, Scindia, St
Pauls etc. In fact, most of these schools could take on
this responsibility, to educate the children, even free
of cost, if need be. After all, dont they give free
education to the children of teachers, in their schools?
Does the child of a soldier who gave his life for the
Nation deserve less?
Banishing the curse of barrenness
FOR centuries Indian women suffered the shame of carrying the heart-breaking load of accusations of barrenness on their fragile shoulders. The male-dominated feudalistic society not merely out of ignorance, but also because of overbearing self-righteousness had passed a blatantly false judgement that barrenness was a curse reserved only for the woman with an inbuilt appendage and that a man could never be barren!
Research and recent discoveries in the world of medical science have opened the eyes of even the highly educated in this regard. It has now been scientifically proved that both men and women could be victims of barrenness.
For centuries women all over the world faced the stigma of having been declared barren. They were often deserted by their husbands and generally looked down upon by society. It is shocking as well as ironical that even the latest 1993 edition of the New Oxford Dictionary carries the meaning of the word barren as a woman incapable of bearing children. It still does not include man.
As per authentic medical research it has now been proved that 40 per cent of cases of barrenness, which means infertility, could be attributed to reasons among men and an equal percentage among women and 20 per cent combined among both. It is now very clear that barrenness or infertility could exist in husbands as well, says Dr Iqbal Singh Ahuja, who brought the new medical aid to infertile couples to enable them reproduce.
It was in 1991 that he launched In-vitro Fertilisation (IVF) Centre at Ludhiana. Although the first test-tube baby of the world had already been successfully born as early as 1978, the new methodology reached this region pretty late.
Dr Iqbal Singh Ahuja revealed that initially it was Dr Mukherji from Calcutta who had invented the IVF. But unfortunately nobody believed him and in disgust he committed suicide. In India, it was Dr Indira Hinduja, who succeeded in reproducing the first test-tube baby in 1982. Soon major cities Mumbai, Chennai, Calcutta and Bangalore began practising the IVF methodology.
IVF is a medical advance which can assist infertile couples to conceive. Under this methodology, the matured egg from a womans uterus is taken out and fertilised with the husbands sperms in a dish in the laboratory. The dish is, in fact, a replacement of womans tube and the laboratory is something of an artificial uterus which maintains exactly the same temperature and carbondioxide as in a womb. Once the embryo reaches the 4 to 8-cell stage (fertile enough to reproduce a child) in the dish, it is transplanted back into the uterus of the woman. Says Dr Ahuja; Its an artificial way of doing what nature does in reproducing. But it does bring hope to couples who have lost hope.
Dr Ahuja passed his MBBS from the Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, in 1967 followed by MD in gynaecology in 1972. Till 1975, he worked as a specialist before starting his own private practice. It was during this period that he witnessed the yearning of many couples for children. He saw many a marriage fall apart on the charge of barrenness.
It became a nagging desire with me to do something for such helpless couples. So in 1990 me and my wife Dr Pushpinder Kaur Ahuja, also a gynaecologist, went to the State University Hospital, Vienna (Austria), for training in the IVF methodology. Later we proceeded to IVF centres in Germany, Switzerland and the USA to observe the procedure of implementation of such a centre. On return, I went to visit all such centres in India. Finally, I approached Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. Agricultural scientists at PAU of international repute were experimenting with IVF among animals. It discovered that their procedures were different but basics were just the same as in human beings, reveals Dr Ahuja.
By 1991 he put up a highly advanced IVF centre at Ludhiana by importing an incubator (machine with temperature as that of a womb), an aspirator (machine to aspirate the eggs), an ultrasound machine with trans-vaginal probe special inverted microscops and semen bank cryocan. In the past eight years, Dr Ahuja has brought cheers to many homes but he is categoric in announcing that the IVF success rate is about 25 per cent only. Its false to claim that IVF meets 50 per cent or 60 per cent of the success rate.
Unassuming, a man of few words, and kind hearted, Dr Ahuja is full of pride while talking about the latest equipment (required for IVF). As a typical Punjabi, he displays satisfaction of having installed this sophisticated technology in Punjab. But ask him about being rewarded for his services, he dismisses the question with a wave of his hand saying: Most of the awards are false, especially the ones announced on a majority of private platforms.
What is the difference between IVF and artificial insemination?
In artificial insemination you put the semen of an unknown person into the womb of a woman, he explains. He further comments that the IVF has brought hope to women and men who may have crossed the last accepted age of conception. For instance, recently we succeeded in transplanting a test-tube baby in a woman of 55. And it was a successful case. You see after a certain age fibrosis mostly begins increasing in the uterus of a woman, which blocks its flexibility. However, the IVF has succeeded in reproducing children despite many such obstacles.
The IVF is an expensive
process. For instance, in the USA its cost on an average
is about Rs 2 lakh and in a majority of the IVF centres
at Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai and Bangalore, the rates
vary from Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000. In Punjab this
operation costs approximately Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000.
However, Dr Ahuja has done many cases free of cost,
particularly among couples belonging to poor families.
Panchayati politics of
PUSHPA Bai, a potter, is fighting an interesting case in the Jaipur High Court. She was removed from the post of sarpanch of Bansahedi Gram Panchayat in the Kota district of Rajasthan, through a no confidence motion in 1997.
Not one to easily relinquish her post, she filed a petition in the High Court. Her contention: the vote of no-confidence against her should be treated as null and void because three of the eight voters against her stood disqualified for having violated the two-child norm applicable to elected members of Panchayati Raj institutions in Rajasthan.
The court granted her a stay and that is where the case stands till date. It has worked to the advantage of the upa-sarpanch (deputy sarpanch), who is officiating as sarpanch. Because of the stay order, no bye-election was held.
These facts came to light at a public hearing in Ajmer jointly organised by the Ajmer Anchal Mahila Jan Adhikar Samiti (AAMJAS) and the Mahila Jan Adhikar Samiti, Tonk, recently. Pushpa Bai is understandably bitter. Her removal as sarpanch, she says is a direct consequence of her compliance with the government order to report all panch who after being elected went on to have more than two children.
Under Section 19 (6) of the Rajasthan Panchayat Act, 1994, any elected member of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) with two or more children, can be disqualified if he or she produces another child. The cut-off date was November 27, 1995, which effectively meant that a member who had a ninth child on November 26 would not invite disqualification, but one who had a third baby on November 28 would have to vacate his or her seat.
In Ajmer district one male sarpanch and 18 ward panches, of whom six were women, have been disqualified under this Section. It is obviously a provision made to tackle the problem of an ever growing population, says Justice (retired) N.L. Tibrewal adding that it needs to be modified. As a rule men decide how many children they will have, and women merely submit. So this section should apply only to men and they should also be barred from contesting if they violate it, he comments.
Complaints against ward panches are sent to the Zila Parishad that was empowered to disqualify erring members. In the case of sarpanches, Panchayat Samiti members and Zila Parishad members, complaints are to be sent to the Director for Development who can decide on the matter.
However this changed with a High Court order in 1997. The High Court, hearing a petition against the powers of disqualification granted to elected representatives and bureaucrats, ordered that all cases for disqualification be referred to the judiciary. I am now supposed to send these cases to the Munsif Court, says Pukhraj Pahadia, chairman, Ajmer Zila Parishad. In the past two years he has not sent a single case to court. Who will pay for it? There is no provision in our budget for court cases and we also do not have lawyers in the department to fight such cases.
Among the 70 odd sarpanches gathered at Ajmer, a sense of discrimination prevailed. It was further compounded by a lack of proper information. Pushpa Bai is under the impression that the ex-sarpanches Prahlad Gujjar and his supporters have managed to somehow stall the disqualification of the six panches who had violated the norm; three of them had voted against her. What complicates matters in her case is that Prahlad Gujjar had been sarpanch of Bansahedi for a full 30 years before he had to give up the post in the last election, when the panchayat was reserved. Pushpa Bai, who had earlier been a sathin or a village level worker under the Womens Development Programme, faced tough opposition from him when she decided to contest the election. She was told that her name was not on the voters list, and had to make several trips to the district headquarters, Kota, only to discover that it had been false propaganda. Prahlad Gujjars family set up five women candidates against Pushpa Bai. When nothing worked, he used my complaint against six panches to turn them against me. Among them was the upa-sarpanch Ramkishan Mali who had three children and who had the fourth one after taking office. Now he is officiating as sarpanch. He should, by rule, have been disqualified, complains Pushpa Bai.
While the constitutional
validity of these conditionalities has not been legally
challenged, the unfairness of it continues to raise
questions: Why is it that a Prime Minister or a Chief
Minister of this country can have as many children as
possible, but a humble sarpanch is expected to carry the
burden of population control? WFS
Commission and Medical Services
A MEETING of the Medical Practitioners of Poona expressed disapproval of the recommendations of the Lee Commission regarding the Medical Services and condemned the treatment of British officers at the hands of doctors of their own race so recommended by the report.
Resolutions were passed urging a separate Civil Medical Service recruited in India only, under the full control of the transferred departments, a simultaneous examination in England and India for the RAMC of India with a rate of annual recruitment as would make Indians 50 per cent of the total strength of the cadre within a period of 10 years.
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