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PCPNDT Act & declining child sex ratio in Surat

Laxity in the implementation of the PCPNDT Act has made Surat a hub of prenatal sex determination and female foeticide

Abhijit Bhatt

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Recently, the controversy over suspension of the PCPNDT Act, which prohibits prenatal sex determination, subsided only after the Union Health Ministry clarified that it has not suspended the Act but has only temporarily relaxed some rules related to submission of reports due to the coronavirus lockdown. Although many people are aware that prenatal diagnosis is misused in India, very few know the extent of this practice and its consequences.

Following the Census of 1991, the subject of declining sex ratio due to prenatal sex determination and selective abortions of girls was extensively reported in the media. To control the situation and regulate the use of such techniques, Parliament enacted a special Act in 1994. In conformity with the various directions issued by the Supreme Court, Parliament further amended the Act in 2003. It is now called The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT Act).

According to Sections 4 & 5 of this Act, genetic clinics are banned from directly or indirectly revealing the sex of the fetus, except in cases of genetic abnormalities or sex-linked diseases. Several offences and penalties have been included in the Act, including strict guidelines for the genetic clinics to maintain and preserve the record of tests as enumerated under form “F” of the said Act. Every offence under this Act is cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable with punishment which includes imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and on any subsequent conviction, with imprisonment which may extend to five years.

Problem with the whole scheme of things is that although the rules and regulations are in place there has been sharp and constant decline in child sex ratio. As per 2011 Census report, the child sex ratio in India has fallen to 919 females per 1,000 males, which is the lowest since Independence. Various studies have found that decline in the child sex ratio is unequivocally linked to the widespread use of prenatal sex determination and selective abortions of girls. Studies have also shown that regions with a higher number of registered prenatal diagnostic facilities per 100,000 women have a lower child sex ratio than where these facilities are less available. Due to gender biased morality of Indian society, there is a demand for sex-selective abortions; those who would not have contemplated female infanticide are making massive use of selective female foeticide and this generates lucrative business for some greedy medical professionals.

It is unfortunate that the science of prenatal diagnosis which aims to protect mother and child by detecting fetal abnormalities is abused in the country by some unscrupulous professional for prenatal sex determination and female foeticide just to earn some money. The main reason for the practice going unchecked is indifference on the part of authorities to implement the law. Therefore, it is the role of the media to make the government authorities and human genetics community aware of the magnitude of the misuse of prenatal technologies and its impact on the sex ratio and status of women.

 Surat, among all cities in India, is the worst example of widespread use of prenatal sex determination and selective abortions of girls. As per the Census data of 2011, Surat among all districts of the state of Gujarat has the highest literacy rate (85.53%) and yet has the lowest child sex ratio. It is settled principle of demographic studies that wherever literacy rate increases the sex ratio of the population also increases, but Surat is going in reverse direction. This anomaly leads to the conclusion that the growth of girl children is being stopped by applying artificial means. It is for this reason, Surat has emerged as IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) hub of India and consequently the city has become overcrowded with mushrooming of all sorts of maternity clinics.

In the past seven years alone, appropriate authorities under the PCPNDT Act have filed as many as 44 court cases against some of these clinics. Taking advantage of the pendency of matters before the court of law and in connivance with the local health authorities, most of these unscrupulous clinics are back in business. This is in violation of the rule 18(A) of the said Act, which prohibits the renewal of operating licence during the pendency of the case. Out of 16 cases decided so far, only one has been found guilty and rest have either been acquitted or dismissed for default. Surprisingly, no appeals against acquittals and dismissals have been made by appropriate authority to the superior courts, despite the fact that rule under Section 18(A) of the Act compulsorily mandates appropriate authority to file appeals immediately.

 All this has been happening even after the Supreme Court, in its landmark judgment on the PCPNDT Act titled ‘Voluntary Health Association of Punjab VS Union of India’ (2016), has removed all anomalies with respect to the implementation of rules and regulations under the Act, with the direction to the concerned courts to preferably decide the pending matters within six months. However, the worst part of the story is that some of these clinics, having made fortune out of the misery of unborn girl children, masquerade as champions of saving the girl child by organising various functions under the garb of “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” campaign to hide their misdeeds. To add fuel to fire, some of these so-called saviours of girl children, on the strength of their financial power, have managed to acquire positions in regional bodies of state medical council of Gujarat.

It is high time authorities take note of things before the situation goes out of control. To conclude, it would be apt to quote the comment of the Supreme Court in one of its judgments on the PCPNDT Act: “It is unfortunate that in an age where people are described as civilised, crime against female is committed even when the child is in the womb as the female foetus is often destroyed to prevent the birth of a female child. If that child comes into existence, she starts her life as a daughter, and then becomes a wife and in due course, a mother. She rocks the cradle to rear up her infant, bestows all her love on the child and as the child grows in age, she gives to the child all that she has in her own personality. She shapes the destiny and character of the child. To be cruel to such a creature is unthinkable.”

Abhijit Bhatt is a senior journalist based in Gujarat.

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Around 53 Egyptian vultures spotted on Yamuna river in Delhi

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As many as 53 Egyptian vultures were spotted two days ago by an ecologist on a sandy mid-island on the Yamuna river in Delhi.

While talking to ANI, TK Roy, who is an ecologist, said, “I found 53 Egyptian vultures here two days back in Delhi, which is the largest number in the last five years. This place is suitable for them.”

Roy further informed us that there are around 47 Egyptian vultures in the area at present.

“The population is slowly rising because of a ban on diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug that has a toxic effect on vultures and awareness among people on vulture conservation,” the ecologist added.

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TRAFFIC FREE, PEDESTRIAN FRIENDLY ‘EK SHAAM CHARMINAR KE NAAM’ PROGRAMME BEGINS

The local authorities and the city police have organised the programme to provide residents of the city with an entertaining, fun, and frolic event.

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A traffic-free and pedestrian-friendly “Sunday Funday” programme titled “Ek Shaam Charminar ke naam” is being held at the historic Charminar of Hyderabad.

The local authorities and the city police have organised the programme to provide residents of the city with an entertaining, fun and frolic event. This event will also be used to spread awareness about various issues of public importance.

The event is inspired by the continuation of a similar programme for eight weeks now at the upper Tank Bund road of Hyderabad.

“With the success of Sunday Funday programme at upper Tank Bund road which has been happening in Hyderabad for last eight weeks now, we felt that the iconic place of Charminar is also another place which can be used for similar entertainment, fun and frolic and intermingling of people,” said Anjani Kumar, Police Commissioner, Hyderabad.

“Through such events, communities can be educated and made aware about several things such as how to prevent theft by servant, drivers theft, and other similar programmes. So we look forward to have a successful program at Charminar,” he added.

The event was inaugurated with the performance of the Hyderabad police band.

“The police department is also actively participating in this programme, the event was inaugurated with Hyderabad police band which is quite famous and subsequently it will be used for various police initiatives which are citizen-centric,” said the Police Commissioner.

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PEOPLE HAVE MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT WHAT SEX EDUCATION MEANS: KARISHMA SWARUP

In an exclusive conversation with NewsX Influencer A-List, Karishma Swarup opened up about sexual education, what comes in its ambit, whether it is important to have a degree in sexual education to be able to teach it and much more.

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Karishma Swarup, Sexuality Educator, recently joined NewsX for an insightful chat as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. In the exclusive conversation with NewsX, Karishma opened up about sexual education, what comes in its ambit, whether it is important to have a degree in sexual education to be able to teach it and much more.

Speaking about what exactly comes under the ambit of sexual education, Karishma said, “I feel like in India today, we don’t have a standardised sex education curriculum that is applied across schools, so a lot of people have misconceptions around what sex education even means. People seem to think that just talking about biology pieces that they studied in biology class might be considered sex education, but in reality, sex education is so much more than that. It involves biology but in the context of understanding anatomy. Understanding and not the teacher being like, oh! This is out of syllabus. Being able to discuss what are your body parts, how do those body parts function, whether or not it’s in a sexual situation. Right, so that is the first piece of it, just the anatomy bit of it.”

The second piece is, of course, the sexual health piece of it. That involves contraceptives, how condoms work and how to prevent STI transmissions. Just generally how to be safe and have safer sex. You cannot have any conversation about sex without talking about consent and consent is something that we talk about in the context of abuse but not necessarily in the context of teaching people what is the correct way of having a healthy relationship, what is the correct way to ask for consent in a certain situation. All of this is also influenced by things like gender and people’s personal identities. Good comprehensive sexuality education takes into consideration what are the different ways and aspects people are bringing into their experience of sexuality. So, that could include the LGBT community, it includes one’s gender. It can also include other intersections such as how does your class or other religion influences you, how you relate to other concepts so comprehensive sexuality or CSE is this holistic picture that goes so much more than telling young people to have sex and if anything the countries where they offer CSE at an early age young people tend to delay their onset of sexual activity rather than doing it earlier,” she added.

Talking about your educational background and whether or not from where you see it it is important to have a degree in sexual education to be able to teach it, Karishma stated, “I myself have done science my whole life. I did science in school. I did those biology classes, I was referring to. I went and studied geology biology while I was at Brown University as well. A large bulk of my learning came from working with this NGO named Plant Parenthood, which is a really big organisation in the US that offers different sexual health and reproductive health services including sex ed. I was a part of a student organisation there, we went out and taught sex ed to high students in the area. Working with them, I got 3 years of field experience. I got trained by this NGO, which had years and years of grass-root teaching experience and i think it goes beyond the question of having a degree especially with sexual health. It is a topic that is so widely ignored around the world, in most places really like, it is a question of who is doing it.

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Ministry of Food Processing Industries organises ‘Food Tech Summit 2021’

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To commemorate World Food Day, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, under the Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro food processing Enterprises (PMFME) Scheme, organised the Food Tech Summit on Saturday.

The Food Tech Summit 2021 aimed at setting the stage for all food-tech stakeholders to impart, discuss and acquaint micro enterprises on the new emerging trends in food processing and technological innovation. Minhaj Alam, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries addressed the Food Tech Summit and highlighted the importance of the micro food processing sector as the growth driver of the Indian economy and through the PMFME Scheme the government’s efforts to encourage food processing in India.

The summit witnessed the presence of eminent industry speakers sharing insightful pieces for micro-enterprises and paving a way in the food processing sector at the domestic and global levels.

Among the distinguished speakers were, Dr. Prasun Kumar Das, Secretary-General, Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA), who spoke about the “Role of small food enterprises in achieving food security – India vs. Global Perspective”. Dr. Prabodh Halde Head- Regulatory and Government Affairs Marico India, conducted a session on “Indigenous Food – Scale, Market and its Processing in Micro Industries”.

The session on “New Generation Food and Technology / Recent Trends (RTE/Convenient Foods)” was taken by Anand Chordia, Director – Technology & Innovation from Pravin Masale, (ONESuhana). Bidyut Baruah, Assistant General Manager, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), took a session on “Export Potential Food Products and its Scope in Micro Food Industries”.

The session on “Infrastructure and logistic Interventions for Micro Food Processing Industries” was taken by Vivek Jha, Associate Director – Government and Public Services, KPMG Advisory Service Private Limited. Akhilesh Gupta, Assistant Director – Regulatory Compliance Division, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), took the session on “Regulatory Compliances, Challenges & Solutions for Micro Industries”.

Tonisha Dixit, National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management, Thanjavur (NIFTEM) took the session on “Introduction on PMFME Scheme and Process for Applying (Online Form for Interested Enterprises/Groups)”.

The Food Tech Summit is one of a kind initiative by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries along with the support of distinguished industry experts to educate and guide the stakeholders to make informed decisions in order to scale up their food business in the present scenario.

In addition to the participation of the various eminent guest speakers, the summit saw the participation of government officials from across the states and also the food processing micro-enterprises. It was hosted live successfully and witnessed the vast participation of all stakeholders.

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KAILASH KHER APPLAUDS INDIA’S VACCINATION DRIVE WHILE TALKING ABOUT HIS VACCINATION SONG

Singer Kailash Kher emphasised that any mass movement can only be successful after receiving participation and support from the citizens.

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Renowned Padma Shri awardee singer Kailash Kher applauded India’s fast-paced vaccination programme against Covid-19 on Saturday while speaking about his new song ‘Teeke se bacha hai desh’, which he has sung to promote the vaccination drive across the country.

The audio-visual number was launched today by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Health and Family Welfare Minister Shri Mansukh Mandaviya. Speaking about the vaccination song, Kher noted that any mass movement can only be successful after receiving participation and support from the citizens. He said, “I want to say that all the missions or movements that achieve success, never do so without people’s participation. And it is only through this participation that India has been able to achieve such high success in the vaccination drive.”

“Today the number of vaccinated population in the nation is reaching 100 crores, hence this is a historical example of how India has conquered corona and that too amid all the misinformation and rumours. This has only been possible by the participation of the people,” continued the singer, adding, “But still, there are misconceptions amid people, like some individuals still haven’t taken the second dose and some not even the first. Intellect lies in taking the vaccine and saving yourself and others.”

Kher had pointed out that music is not only a source of entertainment but also has the qualities of inspiring others. He said that India is a great nation with the world recognising its potential and achievements but there are certain misgivings that need to be addressed. He said that moral support and awareness can be generated through inspirational songs and expressed confidence that the song will go a long way in overcoming the myths and boost the vaccine’s acceptability.

On the occasion of the vaccination song’s launch, Hardeep Singh Puri appreciated Kher and said that the singers can capture the people’s imagination, and this song will go in a long way in dispelling the myths and creating awareness about the vaccination.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister had also shared the song on his Twitter handle, and along with it wrote, “A song that slays vaccine hesitancy! Teeke se bacha hai desh teeke se. Teeke se bachega desh teeke se. Joined my colleagues Dr @mansukhmandviya Ji and Sh @Rameswar_Teli Ji to release India’s Vaccination Anthem #BharatKaTikakaran sung by Sh @Kailashkhe Ji. #SabkaSaathSabkaPrayas”

During the vaccination song’s launch event, which was in a hybrid mode, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Rameswar Teli, Secretary PNG Tarun Kapoor, senior officers of the Ministry and Oil and Gas PSUs, were also present.

The song has been produced by the Oil and Gas PSUs.

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I BROUGHT THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF FITNESS CULTURE: DR MICKEY MEHTA

In an exclusive interview with NewsX India A-List, Dr Mickey Mehta spoke about his journey as a health guru, fitness culture, life coaching, and much more.

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Dr Mickey Mehta, Author & Health Guru, recently joined NewsX for a candid chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive interview, the author spoke about his journey as a health guru, fitness culture, life coaching and much more.

Speaking about his journey till now, he said “Many years back, I would say, when I actually started in the industry, as a career, that was the year 1980, so 1980-81. That was the time that coaches and fitness trainers had no respect, and there was not any formal training or qualifications available. People would say, ‘Kya karega jake, kya uthayega?’. I would say people had very scant respect for fitness trainers and they were called bodybuilders. We were put in the category of pehlwan, pehawani. I brought the whole concept of this culture—fitness culture, wellness culture, physical culture, and culturing the body. While you culture the body, culturing of the mind comes along. It translates into culturing your emotions, your psychology, and your spirit as well. So, anything to do with exercise, anything to do with training your body, shaping your body, culturing the body, translates into awareness because you become aware of more physical parts moving. You become aware of better by-product of circulation because if you circulate well, you don’t know how many liters of blood you have pumped inside because there is a feel-good factor.”

“It is about awareness that you have heart and you have lungs. Your heart beats for good things, for creativity, for sympathy, compassion and glow. When you do a lot of exercises, vanity comes to form because there is a glow because you are circulating. There is oxygen, so radiance, vibrance, so these are the by-products of fitness and physical culture. Mindlessness is not a negative connotation here. Mindlessness is when your mind is not you are and when the mind is, you are not, so you as a spirit are absent in the presence of mind and when you as a spirit are completely present in duality, the mind is absent. Mind is a negative phenomenon because the mind only lives and comes alive, either in the past or in the future. The mind is always wandering in the past. So, fears of the past keep haunting you, the anxiety of the future keeps you occupied,” he added

When asked about the plethora of people he has trained in the past and his experience of the same, he responded, “I think I had a short time of month and a half with Aamir Khan. While he was shooting for ‘Talaash’ and was also preparing for ‘Dhoom 3’. That short span with him was very interesting. My training with Lara Dutta also was very interesting. My training with Yukta Mukhi was very meaningful. With Priyanka Chopra, she was only 15 when I touched her, so not have memories with her but I am extremely proud of who she is today. They are the people who are very desiring and these are the people who are sincere as well. They were very disciplined. I remember Aamir used to call me at 3 AM in the night. The very first day, it was a 5:35 reporting and I thought that I would go there and he would then wake up. To my surprise, he was already up and about. These are very focused people, which is why they are successful, which is why they are leaders.”

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