Monday, 29 October 2012

Violence against Women

I am sure the saner elements of the society would be distraught with the increased violence against women in the last couple of years.  There were acid attacks, gang rapes, murders by jilted lovers, abduction and what not.  I would say that this continuous exposure to these incidents, where the heinousness of the crime had only increased with time had actually numbed our senses to even react.  And the impunity with which the perpetrators of these crimes get away, assisted by their clever lawyers, is equally heart wrenching.

(No photographs of any victim are shown deliberately to guard their privacy and dignity)
But, is the society to blame for such a situation?  I would say partly 'yes' because our boys grow up in an environment such as this:-

1. The mother prefers him to her daughters and gives him the best food (there may be many exceptions of course).
2.  He gets preferential treatment at home over his sisters.
3. In the movies that he watches, the hero and his gang of friends eve tease, trouble and bad mouth the heroine but she still falls in love with that hero only.
4.  Similarly, it is shown in many movies that the heroine is at first a stylish and head strong girl whom the hero subdues by winning some competition against her or actually slapping her face (yes you read right SLAPPING her).  The heroine the dumbo she is, falls in love with this guy for slapping her.  I am sure many of you have seen this in movies.  So, effectively the viewer gets the message that - 'if the girl is stylish or headstrong give her a tight slap and she will fall in line" And believe me, these are main stream movies with top heroes/heroines and not "b" grade flicks.
5.  Movies where the heroine is reduced to a sex object in skimpy clothes having sex on screen or doing item songs
6.  Reports in the society of panchayats giving a verdict for the rapist to marry the  victim as a delivery of justice.  Whether the girl herself would like to marry the rapist or how long would the rapist abide by the marriage are non existent questions in present times.

It can be reasonably said that the mind of a baby is pure and clean. The kind of thoughts and ideas that we put into it would be the guiding principles for all the decisions taken by that baby.  So our baby boys are fed on a steady diet of discrimination against women, domestic and sexual violence through a steady exposure of the same through conditions at home, films, TV and at work/college.  This naturally skews their perception of women and every action they take is a reflection of those thoughts that have been implanted in their young minds.

It can also be reasonably stated that most of the guys where there is max violence are actually sex starved, firstly, because there is a shortage of women and secondly because they find skimpily clad women both in films and on TV.  Imagine this situation - A bunch of young guys drinking for a couple of hours in a pub watching skimpily clad heroines on TV (and a few of them on the dance floor) would quite obviously be in an aroused state and all that they need is actually an outlet at that time.  At this time, I recollect what one Police Commissioner of Mumbai said a few years back - When he was asked to ensure that there are no call girls in Mumbai, he responded by saying that they are the ones who keep the city safe for women in Mumbai (considering the large amount migrant population including workers).  So all that these young guys need is a release and they are taking it out on whoever they find on the streets by abduction & gang rapes.  It may be simplistic to say but letting releases (read call girls) be available i.e without police trouble may be one effective way of getting rid of these monsters on the roads!!

The other issue is of acid attacks and murder attempts/murders by jilted lovers.  I think, we as a society are not addressing this issue seriously enough.  Only one incident of timely action comes to my mind - there was a girl in a southern state who was attacked with acid by two boys and she had to be admitted to the icu of a major hospital.  The Police chief of that city who visited that hospital was so touched by the plight of that girl that he ordered a thorough search for those two boys.  Both the boys were caught and subsequently killed in police firing, reportedly while trying to escape custody.  When the news that the boys were killed  was conveyed to the girl who was on her death bed  - i still remember what she said before breathing her last which was -  " God is there".  That city did not have any more acid attacks while that chief was there.  I have no hesitation in standing up to salute that Gentleman for having made a difficult yet right decision.

To curb this violence there is a job cut out for everyone (listed in  brief and one can use one's own imagination to expand on it)

1. All mothers - Don't treat your son better than your daughters.  This is important as this is the basic start point in the baby's formative years.

2.  For Film makers - Dont depict heroines in a stereo type manner.  Dont depict them only as sexual objects in skimpy clothes!!! C'mon Guys you owe it to the society to make it a better place. Its your social responsibility. Dont shun it.  Just because a "sheela ki jawani" or "Munni" have become hit songs does not take away any of the vulgarity in them or the depiction of a woman as a sexual object.  I am sure they have irreversibly damaged the mindset of many young guys!!
3.  For TV film makers- Dont depict some of them as  scheming and evil women.  Guys you too owe the society just like your big brothers of the film world.

4.  For Police -  Allowing call girls to operate in these high risk areas (high risk for rape) may not be a bad idea.

5.  For Moral police - Monitoring the free sexual content on internet and razing a war against that would be far more beneficial to the society than blackening the faces of a few hapless girls in pubs.
6. Lastly for the Govt - how about self defence courses (judo/karate etc) for girls from primary school level? It may not help if pitted against muscular men but will be of some help against normal guys

7. Even Family balancing could be an answer to this.  Normally a guy with a sister is likely to be more tolerant than a guy with no sisters.  So, even family balancing could help. You can read about family balancing here   http://recklessmusings.blogspot.in/2012/10/family-balancing-come-again-what-is.html

There is a lot more to write here and my heart really goes out for the victims.  I hope the government steps in to ensure that all the victims get fair justice and rehabilitation support!!!

May god be with them in all their endeavours!!! 

A related reading is this blog post
http://atinwalia.blogspot.in/2011_07_01_archive.html 


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

happy dusshera


HAPPY DUSSHERA - MAY 'DURGA MAATA' SHOWER HER BLESSINGS ON YOU AND YOUR FAMILY - MAY YOU ACHIEVE EVERYTHING YOU ASPIRE FOR IN THE ENSUING YEAR -WISHING ALL THE VERY BEST TO EVERYONE



Monday, 22 October 2012

H.E Shri Pranab Mukherjee and healthcare

"Four crore people plunge into poverty every year due to medical expenses" - said our learned PRESIDENT Shri Pranab Mukherjee.

"Almost 80 per cent of the expenditure on healthcare is met by personal, out of pocket, payment. As many as four crore people plunge into poverty each year due to expenses on medical treatment," he said.  He was addressing 40th convocation function of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in the Capital. 

The full text of the article can be accessed here
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-10-17/india/34524128_1_president-pranab-mukherjee-health-sciences-r-c-deka

What was immediately heart warming was the following:-

1. Here was a man despite being the President of the Country has his feet firmly on the ground to be connected with the miseries of the common man.

2.He advocated increase in public spending on health to about 2.5% of GDP which may be about 50,000 crores which is a substantial figure.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I went to a reputed hospital in Hyderabad about an year back to visit a relative who was admitted there.  As there were a number of visitors I sat in the waiting area along with my cousin who was also a doctor. Right in front of us was a "Dialysis" room and it was mentioned "Open 24 hours" on the door. "Who would come for Dialysis at night" I casually remarked to my cousin, who to my surprise informed me that all the Dialysis units in the city are operating at full capacity 24*7. "But, what is the need", said I,  at which point he surprised me further by informing that there is a shortage of Dialysis units in the City.  I found myself shaking my head wondering what made this situation come by?!

I read a bit further on this and was further shocked to know the following - India gets 1.5 lakh patients with kidney failures every year and a majority of them die within five years due to the acute shortage of dialysis units in the country, according to Dr D S Rana, secretary, Indian Society of Haemodialysis. “There are only 1,470 haemodialysis units in the whole country, whereas 40,000 of them are immediately required,” Dr Rana said at the fourth Congress of International Society for Haemodialysis held on March 3-5, 2011 in New Delhi. The full text is available here
http://www.aalatimes.com/2011/03/06/india-faces-acute-shortage-of-dialysis-units-dr-d-s-rana/

How are more and more people getting affected? What emerged from my reading sounded scary.  The following  are some of the ingredients found in our daily use products:-

1.   Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS is an ingredient used in commercial shampoos, but it's also used in engine degreasers. It can be stored throughout the body including in the eyes, brain, heart, and liver, and can even change genetic information in cells. It can react with other ingredients in shampoos and body cleansers to form carcinogenic nitrates and dioxins. With just one shampooing, large numbers of nitrates can be absorbed by the skin and enter the blood supply.
2.   Propylene glycol. Propylene is a major ingredient in industrial antifreeze as well as brake and hydraulic fluid. In personal care products, it helps retain moisture. It’s used in toothpastes, deodorants, lotions and shampoos, and it can cause kidney and liver damage.
3.   Para-dioxane. Para-dioxane, also known as 1,4-dioxane, is a probable carcinogen that is found in some children’s shampoos at levels above those deemed safe by the FDA. In 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned a study of baby-care products that found 1,4-dioxane in 67 percent of products tested. The Environmental Working Group estimates that more than 25 percent of all personal-care products contain the chemical. Personal care products containing para-dioxane have been banned in Europe.
4.   Diethanolamine (DEA). DEA is found in hundreds of personal care products and is probably in your soap and shampoo. It causes cancer in rats when applied to the skin as well as damage to the liver, kidneys, and other organs. (full text at http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/headline_health/shampoo_cause_cancer/2012/03/05/437676.html)

Considering that we are living with such kind of products, high tension jobs, junk foods, TV and a sedenatry lifestyle, there is bound to be an increase in diseases.

(to be continued.....)

FDI in retail


There was a time when my neighbourhood 'mom and pop' store charged me MRP(Max retail price) on everything they sold me.  In fact, I didn't even know that it was MRP,  I used to think that was the cost of the item.  Sometimes they used to give me a discount of Rs 1/- due to lack of change on a big fat bill and I used to be thrilled about it, feeling that the 'mom' or 'pop' gave me a discount due to our cordial relations.  The shop keepers had their own associations and no-one ever gave a discount though you could bargain slightly over the price of rice or wheat etc.



Then came the supermarkets which rained discounts on the consumers.  The volumes of scale at the supermarkets offered lower prices to the consumers who naturally flocked to them.  To keep up with them and retain their old customers even the 'mom n pop' store in my street started offering discounts. So, was the case with all the 'mom n pop' stores or the 'uncle and aunty' stores across the nation.  Suddenly the MRP had lost its significance and the consumer was only looking at 'Offer price' which was (and is) significantly lower than the MRP (that the MRP itself could have been tweaked higher to make the offer price attractive is an altogether different topic).  This naturally benefited every customer with lower prices on every product irrespective of whether they bought from a supermarket or a neighbourhood store.



Though there were organised protests against these supermarkets also, by personnel with vested interests ,they didn't cut any ice with the people primarily because the supermarkets  offered lower prices and more importantly they were fully Indian.  So, the protests died down naturally.


The advantages in a Nutshell, are that it is  expected to bring in much needed investment in the supply chain management, areas of cold storages and thousands of jobs.  This in turn is expected to prevent loss of produce for the farmer and offer more competetive prices to the consumer. There are a few other benefits also listed.  The idea is good and is beneficial to everyone and there should be no doubt in that. What is troubling everyone actually is  the "F" in the FDI.

I am not an economist or learned enough to comment on government statistics on the advantages of fdi in retail. So i will accept them at face value.

But i humbly ponder on the following:-

1. i read that by fdi in retail - we mean a min investment of $ 100 million ( 500 crores) by each company. So, considering that there may be 10 companies willing to invest,  that would make it 5000 crores(even if it is a bit inflated, it doesn't matter as i  again take it at face value).

2. this money would be utilised to set up processing units, storage units, retailing units etc which will be more efficient and as a result be beneficial to everyone.

3. So simplistically speaking, in a country of our size,  if 5,000 crores (or if required even 50,000 crores) could be mustered,  this FDI may not be required. that money could be used to set up the same processing units that the "F" in the FDI would have setup.

4. if that is the case, cant we raise 5,000 crores from within the country through an SPV(special purpose vehicle) floated for this specific purpose.  The shares of such a company could be listed and offered to the public for sale and if efficiently managed would surely return profit.

5. So, rather than a walmart maybe we could have an 'indmart' working on the same principles and guidelines the govt laid down earlier.

maybe the govt economists have already thought over it and discarded the idea on technical grounds but if not, its worth a thought as it will keep the 'F' out of FDI in retail.


We do want the low prices offered by Walmart and Carre four etc and we are thrilled about the extensive variety of goods they have. The only question is - can't we do it on our own?!!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

mobile phone cameras - boon or bane


There are cell phones in the market starting with a VGA camera to upto 18 MP (Mega pixels).  what started out as hazy recordings on a VGA camera have reached a state of cyrstal clear picture with high resolution cameras.

With the increase in resolution, every  individual has become trigger happy and you could find anyone and everyone around you clicking away merrily in the shopping malls, beaches, hotels, roads etc.   Earlier you needed to carry a cumbersome camera (even that reduced in size now) to be able to take pictures and therefore it was carried only by those who really wanted or needed to take picture. Now with camera being a part of the most essential device in our lives (read MOBILE), the camera is also there with us all the time.  And with everyone carrying one in his/her pocket you cannot keep tabs on who is clicking your picture or recording a video of you.  That essentially is the crux of the problem.


Women and men (in some cases) face this perennial problem in the current day world.  There are constantly being clicked, videographed without their consent or knowledge.  If you look around closely next time, you may find some guy quietly clicking away photographs of pretty women on the street.  Sometimes these guys make it obvious to the women that they are clicking a photograph.  I happened to catch one such guy who was blatantly clicking photographs on a beach.  I took his mobile and was shocked to see that he had clicked photographs of many women on the beach in in-appropriate moments when they  had involuntarily exposed themselves (due to the waves) for fleeting moments, as there were on a beach.  Though i made him delete all the photographs he moved ahead and joined up with a gang of four, to whom he narrated his ordeal with me.  They all noticed me and moved to another part of the beach where they continued with the same activity.

similar is the case in a nightclub i visited where youngsters were busy clicking away photographs of women in their clubwear which quite obviously would be revealing.  on complaining about these guys to a bouncer, they were stopped but the moment the bouncer left they continued with their activity again.

few nightclubs and hotels have contemplated installing cell phone jammers but the problem is that it would totally knock out the cell phone signal but the camera which is an inbuilt device in the cell phone would still continue to function

the internet too is full of such photographs - be it women on the beach, in parties or just friendly get togethers.  Many of them photos are of  women having a bit of fun, or in in-inappropriate moments or upskirt shots or of  wardrobe malfunction.  The multiple angles in which such photographs are taken makes one realise no part of any woman is free from the prying lens of a cell phone camera!!

Still, these activities may seem relatively harmless when compared to the increased instances of making explicit videos of rape and molestation forcing the victims on several occassions to commit suicide and on other occassions suffer in silence for fear of their videos being broadcast.  

Honestly, we should ask ourselves - why do we need that camera in the cell phone? if it is to take pics of our near and dear ones, we do have a digital camera!!! if it is to take photographs outside, then what kind of photographs do we intend to take?

Can we ban cell phones with cameras altogether? that may be the step in the right direction as there are very few legitimate uses for the cell phone camera but the ills are too many.   What would the cell phone companies say about that? especially when they have glossy ads highlighting the camera performance in the cell phone!!

The camera in the cell phone is definitely something we can live without. The govt may consider banning the same in the larger social interest!!!

 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

family balancing


family balancing?!!! - come again - what is that was my first reaction till the time i read the article by Ms Tara.  A bit more of reading educated me further on the topic.  The blog balanced families is quite informative and can be reached here
http://familybalancing4u.com/ 





post # 1 - what is family balancing
--------------------------------------------------
family balancing refers to the processes in achieving an ideal balance in the gender of the offspring of a given family. for example a family with two boy children may want a girl and a family with two girl children may want a boy. the need for family balancing is acute in the case of families with two girl children. several illegal methods are being used by people in achieving their ends with some successes and several cases of failures which make very pitiful reading. the whole idea of this blog is to generate a healthy debate as to whether family balancing techniques are humane and ethical in the indian social context given their peculiar spiritual beliefs and can a legalised and systematic implementation of the family balancing system help in 'saving the girl child' and heralding a better era for the 'girl children'. read on in the next posts..
 
post # 2 - the pro's and con's of family balancing
----------------------------------------------------------------------
this post impassionately examines the pros and cons of family balancing without touching on any ethical issues which would be followed in the subsequent posts. firstly - the cons - a plethora of social activists, feminists and the governmental organisations would say that this would lead to a gender imbalance and a skewed sex ration.  there would be further discrimination against the girl child, with the girl child not being chosen by anyone given the current social fabric in the country.  those largely being the major cons - lets take a look at the pros.  well the biggest argument in favour of this family balancing is the joy it brings to the affected families. it would also reduce the discrimination against the girl child and actually improve the female:male sex ratio. ofcourse as with all good offers there is a rider that - 'conditions apply'. more about them in a short while.
the author intimates that the whole idea of this site is to generate a healthy debate as to whether family balancing techniques are humane and ethical in the indian social context given their peculiar spiritual beliefs and can a legalised and systematic implementation of the family balancing system with governmental support help in saving the girl child and heralding a better era for the girl children. read on in the next posts.

this surely is a point worth debating considering the following stats about the major crimes against women (2010 statistics of reported crimes only - all figures rounded off)
rape                - 22000 ( 1 every 25 minutes)
kidnap            - 30000 ( 1 every 18 minutes)
torture           - 90000 ( 1 every 6 minutes)
dowry death  - 8300   ( 1 every day) - the most serious
molestation   - 40000 ( 1 every 13 minutes)

would it too simplistic of me to assume that if every house had one girl child, atleast the dowry death cases would come down?!!

therefore, it is very important to bring some semblance of order in our social outlook to ensure that the crime rate especially the dowry deaths and torture come down drastically in the near future.

To beign with, it may not be a bad idea to examine this concept of family balancing with an open mind!!!










Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Barack Obama and Outsourcing



"And I will invest $15 billion a year in renewable sources of energy to create five million new energy jobs over the next decade - jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced; jobs building solar panels and wind turbines and a new electricity grid; jobs that will help us eliminate the oil we import from the Middle East in ten years and help save the planet in the bargain. That's how America can lead again." - President Barack Obama, October 30, 2008

I dont like Mr Barack Obama at all!!!

He is anti - outsourcing to Asian nations and had hugely hiked the visa fees for our job aspirants forcing many of our US and Indian multinational companies to do a rethink about outsourcing.  Quite obviously hiring Indian labour (read software engineers) is cheaper which enables the companies to position themselves better in an increasingly cost competitive environment.  Mr Obama's policies would mean that companies would have to hire more 'costly' American labour which would obviously increase the input cost of the product and thereby the selling price.  This would naturally push these companies to the wall while competing against other companies which are employing the cheaper labour.  Atleast this is what most of the companies want us to believe.

Now let us look at the real facts:-
Earlier (pre outsourcing days)
---------
1. The Americans were living in their own country
2. They were being paid a good salary to be able to look after their families
3. They may have worked lesser (than Asians) but they also enjoyed time with their families
4. They had dignity of labour in whatever they did
Then slowly, the outsourcing started
---------------------------------------------------
1. They started losing their jobs as Asians were working longer, harder and cheaper
2. In some cases they were smarter also rising fast to the top
3. Companies that did not outsource could not compete globally and therefore there was a deluge of outsourcing
4. This led to a drastic reduction in jobs in America
5. Those who continued in their jobs had to work doubly hard to retain them
6. So, those who retained their jobs lost the time they earlier spent with their families and those who lost their jobs could not look after their families

Naturally, they are all aggreived!! But why shouldnt they be?  WE have entered into their house, taken away their jobs, taken away their livelyhood and as a result their families are suffering and they are also not able to spend enough time with their families.  They obviously are angry and this is also reflecting in the increasing attacks on Asians(read Indians in most cases) in both America and Australia. 

Why do we go to America? Well we all go to America for the standard of living, the lush green locales and the high quality of life.  But if we all go there and start working for a lower pay, then how can we keep up that quality of life?!!! Even with lesser pay, the standard/quality of life that we can afford may be far superior to what we can get in india but for the average American, lesser pay may mean reduction in quality of life from their own standards.  

They have reasons to not like us as we are driving them against the wall in terms of unemployment.  So, Mr Obama is quite right in saying No to outsourcing, in as far as his own country men are concerned.  Corporations in the US should not look for increasing their profits but to provide employment and job security for the people of America.  And Indian companies should stop crying hoarse and look for innovative solutions to the problem.  Becoz, as we see it, no right thinking politician in the US would ever be able to oppose Mr Obama on outsourcing.  The recent reports of a fall in unemployment from 9.9% to 8% is a clear indication that his policies are working.  The average Americans whom he is feeding by tightening Outsourcing and Visa norms are going to be forever grateful to him. 

As an Indian - I don't like Mr Barack Obama  at all, as he is hurting our  software companies and our people  but I definitely do not disagree with what he is doing!!! Still, I think that is the way to go if you have to look after your fellow countrymen as countrymen come first and foremost, Always!!

Barack Obama and Outsourcing



"And I will invest $15 billion a year in renewable sources of energy to create five million new energy jobs over the next decade - jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced; jobs building solar panels and wind turbines and a new electricity grid; jobs that will help us eliminate the oil we import from the Middle East in ten years and help save the planet in the bargain. That's how America can lead again." - President Barack Obama, October 30, 2008

I dont like Mr Barack Obama at all!!!

He is anti - outsourcing to Asian nations and had hugely hiked the visa fees for our job aspirants forcing many of our US and Indian multinational companies to do a rethink about outsourcing.  Quite obviously hiring Indian labour (read software engineers) is cheaper which enables the companies to position themselves better in an increasingly cost competitive environment.  Mr Obama's policies would mean that companies would have to hire more 'costly' American labour which would obviously increase the input cost of the product and thereby the selling price.  This would naturally push these companies to the wall while competing against other companies which are employing the cheaper labour.  Atleast this is what most of the companies want us to believe.

Now let us look at the real facts:-
Earlier (pre outsourcing days)
---------
1. The Americans were living in their own country
2. They were being paid a good salary to be able to look after their families
3. They may have worked lesser (than Asians) but they also enjoyed time with their families
4. They had dignity of labour in whatever they did
Then slowly, the outsourcing started
---------------------------------------------------
1. They started losing their jobs as Asians were working longer, harder and cheaper
2. In some cases they were smarter also rising fast to the top
3. Companies that did not outsource could not compete globally and therefore there was a deluge of outsourcing
4. This led to a drastic reduction in jobs in America
5. Those who continued in their jobs had to work doubly hard to retain them
6. So, those who retained their jobs lost the time they earlier spent with their families and those who lost their jobs could not look after their families

Naturally, they are all aggreived!! But why shouldnt they be?  WE have entered into their house, taken away their jobs, taken away their livelyhood and as a result their families are suffering and they are also not able to spend enough time with their families.  They obviously are angry and this is also reflecting in the increasing attacks on Asians(read Indians in most cases) in both America and Australia. 

Why do we go to America? Well we all go to America for the standard of living, the lush green locales and the high quality of life.  But if we all go there and start working for a lower pay, then how can we keep up that quality of life?!!! Even with lesser pay, the standard/quality of life that we can afford may be far superior to what we can get in india but for the average American, lesser pay may mean reduction in quality of life from their own standards.  

They have reasons to not like us as we are driving them against the wall in terms of unemployment.  So, Mr Obama is quite right in saying No to outsourcing, in as far as his own country men are concerned.  Corporations in the US should not look for increasing their profits but to provide employment and job security for the people of America.  And Indian companies should stop crying hoarse and look for innovative solutions to the problem.  Becoz, as we see it, no right thinking politician in the US would ever be able to oppose Mr Obama on outsourcing.  The recent reports of a fall in unemployment from 9.9% to 8% is a clear indication that his policies are working.  The average Americans whom he is feeding by tightening Outsourcing and Visa norms are going to be forever grateful to him. 

As an Indian - I don't like Mr Barack Obama  at all, as he is hurting our  software companies and our people  but I definitely do not disagree with what he is doing!!! Still, I think that is the way to go if you have to look after your fellow countrymen as countrymen come first and foremost, Always!!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Juggling with Genetics - family balancing


This is an article i read in another blog http://balancedfamilies.blogspot.in/

Afternoon Despatch and Courier (Mumbai),
By Tara Patel


Is there such a thing as a tailor-made baby? No such thing yet, exclaimed a bemused British Doctor, Dr. Alan Thornhill, visiting Mumbai and India for the third time --- this time in association with city doctor Dr. Aniruddha Malpani's Infertility Clinic.

Medical technology has advanced a great deal, he explained, but the field of genetics is complex. India still has a long way to go before we can order a baby to specification. Besides, there are ethics involved. For the time being, even the effort to treat genetically-flawed babies is a problem. And if couples have been unable to have a child, they should seek medical redressal to the problem."

The P.G.D. procedure, says Dr. Thornhill, was originally developed to diagnose genetic disease at an early embryonic stage but it has a number of clinical applications nowadays. If there is a genetic flaw in either routine and the results consistent. Similarly, the diagnostic material required to accurately and reliably diagnose chromosomal abnormalities or single gene defects from a single cell have been refined largely in the 1990s ..."
Is one of the other clinical applications of this procedure? He smiled, having anticipated the questions, he is aware that a large number of termination of pregnancies take place in India after a female foetus has been diagnosed. "It is a social issue we do not have in the west," says Dr. Thornhill. The law in the U. K does not permit the hospitals and doctors to use the P. G. D. procedure specifically for sexual identification. "The law says you can't although there are the old cases when somebody may want to have a male or a female child to balance the family... it's family may have four girls in a row and may want a boy. May be in future, family balancing may be allowed, but at present it is not allowed in the U.K"

Besides, he says, if an associated test was run for sex determination, it would be costly. " In vitro fertilization costs abut 1,200 pounds, and a P.G.D. procedure another 800 pounds." Needless to that it is only in the Asian and middle Eastern countries that there is a premium on male children. In Dr. Alan Thornhill's experience, Jordan is an example where a genetic test is run for sex determination, and in some states of the U.S.A. "family balancing" is legally permitted.

How is it done? Well, in an I.V.F. cycle a woman's ovary is stimulated to produce a number of eggs. These are collected and mixed with sperm to produce embryos. Three days after the mixing, at the eight-cell stage, a chemical is used to drill a hole into an embryo to remove a cell for genetic testing i.e. male and female constituents. If it's the desired sex, an embryo can be implanted in the uterus... and all this is not as easy as it sounds. The success rate is a mere 30 to 45 percent!

In conclusion, Dr. Alan Thornhill posed a thought-provoking question. "If ever, family selection is permitted legally, rather than kill a healthy female or male foetus through medical termination of pregnancy, isn't it better to permit an option of a pre-implantation diagnosis before pregnancy is initiated?"

These are ethical-medical issues the world needs to think about!!!!!

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