Missing Parenthood in India

Recently, most of us came across the news whereby a 74-YO lady in India set a world record by delivering healthy twins via C-section, having attained pregnancy through IVF procedure. A few people have appreciated the couple’s grit at this ripe age and also, lauded the entire medical team’s sincere and well co-ordinated efforts. But most of our society has badly criticized their decision, particularly centering its questions on the upbringing of the twins and the medical ethics of the team that ultimately helped them.

My two fundamental questions to the people criticizing this event:

  1. If this medical team could do the entire procedure in a safe manner (after weighing other health vitals and doing psychological counselling) on the 74-YO lady, who has been yearning and trying for conception for 57 years, then why did other medical institutions/doctors fail at such a or similar performance earlier? Or were they just indifferent to the couple’s agony as is the case in many instances?
  2. Those who are so concerned about the twins, why don’t they come forward and adopt them later, let alone celebrating the old lady’s joy of conception and motherhood?

And I have no words for people so thankfully relating population control and childless couples!!!!!

It is easy to criticize, blame, ridicule, taunt, tease on these issues in our society. Women who fail to conceive, whatsoever be the reason, are still labelled “barren” in different jargon across India. Nothing changes it yet. For in India, motherhood still largely means through biological conception!!! Whether in cities or villages, how many people are sensible towards the women/couples somehow deprived of it? How many come forward to defend their helpless and even utterly depressive situations? In any social function, the childless women feel (made to feel actually!) a certain degree of isolation and incomplete status in their lives. They are mercilessly compared to women with children or multiple pregnancies, and rigorously questioned. It does not matter what or how much they do for themselves, their families and the society. If such childless couples divert their time and energy for philanthropic works, even then most of them are teased – “what else will you do?” Many people merely preach on adoption. But how many will go for it if it were their case? And they also later ask – “won’t you have your own genes.. own baby, at least one?” As if parenthood lies in DNA only!! Then there are couples who emotionally need their biological legacy to continue; that could be for various reasons. Likewise, there are several other issues.

It is this increasing magnitude of brunt over the years that compels many such affected women to forget every pain..every criticism, and take high risk of pregnancy irrespective of their age and even other health conditions. The attempts itself could be very traumatic. Then the mental, psychological and emotional well-being becomes all, especially as certain hormones also drastically change with increasing age. All these unleash a great amount of toll on their husbands and immediate families as well. Only a strong couple can fight the situation and sail together – whatever solution they finally choose, with or without medical assistance.

The other hugely concerning chapter for childless couples is the changed bill/laws on surrogacy in India. Well, it is good that the option is no longer commercial; so it cannot be misused. But due to ill-regulations, the genuinely infertile/intending couples are much losing it out!! Some of the current conditions of altruistic surrogacy in our country is worth a larger debate and re-consideration. For example – the surrogate mother has to be a ‘close relative’. Even if ‘close relative’ gets defined, can every such genuinely intending couple find a ‘close relative’ to be a surrogate mother? The search of fulfilling this criterion further erodes the couples’ biological clocks, and deters authorized/good fertility centers and hospitals from taking up the cases in ethical ways. And how many surrogate mothers shall come forward for an altruistic one? The ‘close relative’ provision will definitely also have emotional and psychological implications on the associated members at some point of time!! The new bill/laws also do not consider an intending biological mother’s incidental health factors like diabetes, hypertension, etc. risking a normal full-term pregnancy to make her a fit case to opt for surrogacy. Is this right? Isn’t the new bill/law rather adding to the trauma, woes and desperation of such already helpless couples? Parenthood is ridden with biological, emotional and psychological aspects. It is much beyond conception and delivery of a baby; and therefore, neither couples should be callously made to wait for indefinite time, nor they can wait beyond a certain age!

Similarly, CARA (Central Adoption Research Authority) provisions need to be modified for faster process of adoption in India.

Could all the stakeholders concerned in our country care to think on these social issues, and quickly pave real solutions for the childless couples by generating awareness, streamlining medical choices, acting within a reasonable time-frame and bettering lives? The solution should also include sensitization of the society towards empathetic behaviors with childless couples and adoption, and cheerful inclusion of adoptive parents and adopted kids in our diverse system.

 

 

Truth – a Rare Commodity

Recently I shifted from Mumbai to Bhubaneswar. For me, shifting to Bhubaneswar was not only a shift involving cities; it was also a shift from my hostel life to a realistic family life, a paradigm shift in thinking and looking at the world. It is a shifting from an ideal place to a practical place. I did not know that the realities of the practical world were so scary. Anyway, thought of penning some of my experiences through this post.

The incidents I’ve been experiencing here at Bhubaneswar are unique and eye opening in many ways. Some of these experiences which I’m going through are the repetitions of my earlier experiences in Delhi and Chennai. Though, the experiences are very personal, but are common with many of us. I’m sure you must have experienced some thing or the other in your life or will be experiencing in future.

Internet Connection

Living without an Internet connection at home was the toughest part of my life. I decided to get an Internet connection to my place —  inquired with other friends those are having Internet connections at their home, here at Bhubaneswar. I was advised by most of them to take BSNL’s broadband connection. Without delay, I booked a BSNL’s unlimited Broadband connection. I paid the advance amount and submitted all the forms to the designated officer in time. I was told by the Officer that I should get the connection in a couple of days. But that did not happen.

When I inquired after a week, I was told by the officer in-charge that Internet connection will be provided to my place in a day’s time. I took his assurance seriously and called all my friends and relatives to share this piece of good news. But, his assurance did not materialize. After a day or two, when I met the same officer again, I was told that every thing is Ok now and I should get the connection by the end of the day. I was little thrilled this time, but that too was short-lived.

The end of the day is yet to come and I’m yet to get a connection after submitting the form and paying the Internet rent some twenty days before.

I complained again with the SDO, BSNL, I was again given the same false assurance. Interestingly, they themselves keep on telling me that “it will be connected today, tomorrow and so on”. False assurance is a part and parcel of their services. No one told me the truth and reason behind the delay.

House Rent

The difficulties in getting a house on rent in a small or big city have its own unique stories. Especially, getting a house on rent for a bachelor is a tough problem. The experience I am sharing with you is an addition to the list of those stories.

It was 7.20am, Friday, 24th July, 2009. I, my brother and my sister-in-law went to deposit advance for the new rented house for me, which my sister-in-law had booked on 23rd July evening. We were excited, thrilled and quite relaxed.  On our arrival, we were told that some one else had given the advance last night after my sister-in-law left and had already taken the house on rent. We felt really bad. Even, we had some unnecessary arguments and discussions in our house for the reason for the delay. Even though the house owner told us that we were late in coming to take possession of the house, I was not convinced fully. I had a doubt, as he was fumbling while talking to us.  In the evening, I was told by some one else that the house has still not been given on rent. The house owner lied to us in the morning.  He had become greedy and wanted more money for his house. Moreover, he wanted a Govt. Officer and a family man, not an employee of a private firm and a bachelor as his tenant. I could not understand his philosophy. If that was in his mind, he could have told us the truth, or else he could have given us some other appropriate reason. His lie (that we were late) unnecessarily sparked an argument and created an unpleasant scenario in our house. I do not understand one thing — “is  truth such a costly affair”?

The Travel Agent

Since I did not have the Internet connection, I could not book one on-line train ticket for my urgent travel. The booking counters were too far from my place. Therefore, I approached a Travel Agent to book a train ticket for me. I gave him the advance money and gave all the details to him. After taking the money and the details, he assured me for the ticket. He even went to the extent and asked me to meet him near the platform directly to collect the ticket and board the train. I was excited and made all my arrangements for the travel.

Got ready for the journey,  called the agent one hour before the train starts to know the status of the ticket.  He again assured me about the ticket. As per his suggestion, I reached the station 20 minutes before. I was waiting there for the ticket.  He again assured me about the ticket over phone. But, he never turned up. Moreover, he did not pick my calls afterward. The train left the platform as scheduled and I came back home with anger and frustration.  Two hours after the train had left, he called me and said —  “Sir, your ticket is now ready, and you can travel tomorrow. We did not get the ticket for today’s train, we are sorry for that, but we have booked your ticket for tomorrow’s train”.

Initially I did not believe him, but had no other option left. On my further inquiry he gave me the berth/coach number. This time, I thought he is telling the truth and re-planned the travel. Next day again I called him before I left for the train. He asked me to reach the coach and collect the ticket there from his person. I was waiting there with hope. But the person did not come. When I went near the coach to verify the details which he gave me last night, I could not believe my eyes. That berth was booked on someone else’ s name. In addition, he had sold the ticket to some other person instead of giving me that ticket. Fortunately, the person who bought the ticket was one of my acquaintances. On my casual enquiry, he told me that he got the ticket after paying some Rs. 400/- extra. I could not believe this, the trick, the unprofessionalism and the unethical practices. Immediately I called the agent and asked him not to book any more ticket for me and asked him to return my money. He was keeping on telling me, sorry sir, aap ka ticket kaal wali train me kar diya gaya (we have booked your ticket for tomorrow’s train), aap kaal jaiye, wo galti ho gaya…blah blah… and was not ready to accept his  deeds. What a shame! What kind of ethics  are we into?

I booked my ticket after standing in the queue for 3 hours and promised not to approach a travel agent hence forth.

Centre for Excellence and Excellent Facility

Some days back I visited a college after I saw an advertisement in a national daily. In fact, there were several advertisements by the same college in the local TV channels too. As per the advertisement, they were claiming that they have excellent facilities for research, they have best faculties and they have strong collaborations with many foreign universities. I was excited, when I came to know about all these things in the advertisement. I decided to visit them. But, I regretted when I reached there. Regretted, because, I had lost 6 hours and some Rs 400/- to visit that college. Interestingly, they did not have any facilities for research, neither they had buildings, nor they had infrastructures. They did not have a single trained faculty. What they were claiming on quality faculty was completely false. The names they were showing are all well established faculties in USA and have never been to that place. They have a dial-up connection for Internet and their library is even smaller than my private collection. They were just fooling  people through their advertisements. I got irritated in the beginning. On a casual interaction with the trustees, I pointed out the lacunae of their claims. I thought they will take my comments seriously. Unfortunately, they smiled at me, and said, “That was an advertisement, to attract students and their parents, the list of faculties you saw in the college web-site are for the AICTE and for our future students, not for you. We are not alone in this business. Almost all  are doing the same.”

What to say? Did not have any more words.

Is the 63rd Independence year still not enough to teach us to mature in terms of our work ethics, professionalism and culture? What development are we talking of without ethics at the grass-root level? Interestingly, in “India” aamjunta is also immune to these cheats and doesnot even react.There are many more such incidents, happens with me and with you aamjuta. Everyday we see these kinds of false assurances, unethical advertisements and promises.   Don’t take those seriously.  Stick to the truth and practice truth. Else, truth, which is becoming a rare commodity, will be extinct one day.

Aamjunta – Satyameva Jayate.

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