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28th February – Prelims Booster

Cabinet approves Bill to regulate surrogacy

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020, allowing a “willing” woman to be a surrogate mother and proposing that the Bill would benefit widows and divorced women besides infertile Indian couples.

Changes to the original bill –

  • The Cabinet approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill after incorporating the recommendations of a Rajya Sabha Select Committee.
  • The 15 major changes suggested by the 23-member committee to the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019, also included deleting the definition of “infertility” as the inability to conceive after five years of unprotected intercourse on the ground that it was too long a period for a couple to wait for a child.
  • The proposed insurance cover for a surrogate mother has now been increased to 36 months from 16 months earlier.

Features of Bill –

  • The Bill prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy.  Altruistic surrogacy involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance coverage during the pregnancy.
  • Surrogacy is permitted when it is: (i) for intending couples who suffer from proven infertility; (ii) altruistic; (iii) not for commercial purposes; (iv) not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation; and (v) for any condition or disease specified through regulations.
  • Surrogacy clinics cannot undertake surrogacy related procedures unless they are registered by the appropriate authority.  Clinics must apply for registration within a period of 60 days from the date of appointment of the appropriate authority.
  • The central and the state governments shall constitute the National Surrogacy Board (NSB) and the State Surrogacy Boards (SSB), respectively. Functions of the NSB include, (i) advising the central government on policy matters relating to surrogacy; (ii) laying down the code of conduct of surrogacy clinics; and (iii) supervising the functioning of SSBs.

In Rakhigarhi, anxiety trumps history

The Centre is moving ahead with its plan to develop the site as a tourist hub and set up a museum, and this has got residents in two villages in Haryana’s Hisar district — Rakhi Khas and Rakhi Shahpur — known as Rakhigarhi worried.

What is the concern?

  • After Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the government’s plan to fund five on-site museums, including the under construction museum initiated by the Haryana government at Rakhigarhi.
  • As part of encroachment removal at the Rakhigarhi heritage site, 152 households are being shifted to flats.

About Rakhigarhi –

  • Rakhigarhi in Haryana is considered to be the largest site of Indus Valley civilisation. Granary, cemetery, drains, terracotta bricks have been found here.
  • It is located in the Sarasvati river plain, around 27 km from the seasonal Ghaggar river.
  • It is a 5,000-year-old site that showcases continuity from the Harappan age to the present times.
  • In May 2012, the Global Heritage Fund, declared Rakhigarhi one of the 10 most endangered heritage sites in Asia.

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