Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 04 October 2022
- Avoid infant abandonment by opting for “safe surrender.”
- The fate of the Nord Stream pipelines remains a mystery
Avoid Infant Abandonment By Opting For “Safe Surrender.”
- There has been a disturbing trend recently in the media regarding infant abandonment cases.
- In Tamil Nadu, for example, a two-year-old girl found alone in a government bus was handed over to police, who traced her mother using CCTV footage.
- In a similar case, police in West Bengal found a two-week-old boy abandoned in a closed tea stall and provided immediate medical attention.
- The article discusses the seriousness of the issue of child abandonment, the underlying causes, and potential solutions.
GS Paper I and II: Role of women and women organizations, schemes for vulnerable sections. Fundamental rights, Issues with adoption laws etc
Examine the main provisions of the National Child Policy and throw light on the status of its implementation. (150 Words: UPSC 2016)
- According to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, and Law and Justice’s recent report, “Review of Guardianship and Adoption Laws,” there is a huge mismatch between the number of people wanting to adopt children and the number of legally available children for adoption.
- According to the report, one solution would be to make “orphan and abandoned children” available for adoption as soon as possible.
- National Crime Records Bureau: According to NCRB data, more than 700 criminal cases of “exposure and abandonment of a child under the age of twelve” were registered in 2021.
- Top abandonment: Between 2016 and 2020, Delhi and Maharashtra had the highest number of desertions.
- Awaiting adoptions: According to a parliamentary report, as of December 2021, there were 27,939 prospective parents registered with the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), up from nearly 18,000 in 2017.
- In addition, only 2,430 of 6,996 orphaned, abandoned, and surrendered children residing in childcare institutions considered adoptable were legally free for adoption by Child Welfare Committees.
- Adoption timeline: It claimed that in the last five years, the waiting time for adoption had increased from one year to three years. In 2021-22, there were only 3,175 children adopted.
- In 2021-22, there were 2,991 in-country adoptions and 414 inter-country adoptions, according to the CARA portal.
- The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) was established in 1990 as an autonomous and statutory body of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
- Role: Its primary concern is the adoption of orphaned, abandoned, or surrendered children, and it regulates both in-country and inter-country adoptions through its affiliated and recognised adoption agencies.
- Inter-country adoptions are governed by the provisions of the 1993 Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, which India ratified in 2003.
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015 (or the JJ Act): It requires hospitals, Child Care Institutions (CCIs), foster care agencies, and Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) to legally place abandoned babies in the adoption system, and it allows parents to hand over their child to adoption agencies or the CWC.
- Procedure: Parents or guardians who want to give up a child are given 60 days to reconsider their decision after submitting a “surrender letter,” after which documents such as an Aadhar card, a PAN card, and hospital discharge papers are collected.
- If both parents are drug addicts or alcoholics, a child may be considered and declared eligible for surrender after the prescribed process of inquiry and counselling.
- Strict penalties: It is the responsibility of the authority or officer in front of whom the surrender deed is executed to produce the child before the CWC within 24 hours. Failure to report abandonment within the required time frame is a criminal offence.
- Safe surrender: The JJ Act states that no First Information Report (FIR) shall be filed against any biological parent during the investigation of an abandoned and surrendered child.
- The purpose of this provision is to ensure that all efforts are made to locate the child’s parents or guardians without resorting to criminal action.
- Furthermore, the CWC is prohibited from disclosing the identity of such children, and all reports relating to the child are to be treated as confidential.
- Importance of Surrender: It ensures that the child will be cared for until he or she reaches the age of majority or is adopted by a suitable and willing parent.
Concerning abandonment and surrender
- An abandoned child is one who has been abandoned by his biological or adoptive parents or guardians.
- Surrendered child: A parent or guardian who wishes to surrender a child due to physical, emotional, or social factors beyond their control must present the child to the Committee.
- Legal provisions: In police parlance, abandonment is classified into three categories: infanticide, foeticide, and finally child exposure and abandonment.
- Infanticide: preventing a child from being born alive or causing a child to die after birth (10 years in prison under IPC section 315)
- Foeticide: Causing the death of an unborn child, which constitutes culpable homicide (ten years in prison under Sections 315 and 316).
- Abandonment: Parental or guardian abandonment of a child under the age of 12 years (7 years in prison under Section 317)
- Implications of child abandonment: Abandonment endangers the child’s life and exposes the child to life-long trauma. It also violates the fundamental human right to life and dignity.
Reasons for child abandonment include:
- Lack of knowledge of legislation: A major reason for child abandonment in India is a lack of awareness about the law governing the surrender of unwanted children.
- Personal reasons: unwanted pregnancy, relationship breakdown, lower socioeconomic status, etc.
- Hassle-free surrender: Many people believe that safe surrender requires a lot of paperwork, so they take illegal shortcuts.
A broad interpretation
- Pregnancy termination: The Supreme Court of India recently issued a liberal interpretation of the law regarding pregnancy termination for single and unmarried women.
- In 2021, the words “married woman” were replaced with “any woman,” and “husband” was replaced with “partner” in Section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971.
- Ambiguity: However, Rule 3B of the MTP Rules, 2003 was not amended, leaving room for different interpretations by lower courts.
- Rule 3B(c) refers to a change in marital status while a pregnancy is ongoing, and is followed by the explanatory words “widowhood and divorce.”
- In light of this, the Supreme Court issued an interim order allowing an unmarried woman petitioner to terminate her 24-week pregnancy resulting from a failed live-in relationship, subject to the Medical Board’s recommendations.
- Importance: The Supreme Court’s decision to grant unmarried women the same right to medically terminate pregnancy as other categories (divorcees, widows, minors, disabled and mentally-ill women, and survivors of sexual assault or rape) liberates her from mental trauma.
The Way Forward
- Regulatory body: CARA was established as the nodal body for in-country and inter-country adoptions in response to rampant malpractices and inter-country adoption rackets.
- However, institutionalisation may be harmful in the long run, so equal attention must be paid to the finer aspects of child care, and the organisation must allow itself to be guided by a child-centric philosophy.
- Raising Awareness: It is believed that Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), daais, and anganwadi workers, who have a strong network in villages, are aware of the majority of cases of unwanted pregnancies. As a result, educating and sensitising them may reduce instances of abandonment.
- Nursing home staff should also be included in such a programme.
- Promote legislation: These provisions of the JJ Act must be widely publicised so that no child is abandoned and parents, guardians, and functionaries who are required to report any abandonment do not face criminal charges.
- Local surveys: The Parliamentary Standing Committee has proposed conducting periodic district surveys to identify orphaned/abandoned children.
- Parental privacy: Amendments to the JJ Act can also be purchased, allowing vulnerable parents to surrender their child confidentially at local police stations without stigma or legal repercussions.
- Create a separate constitutional body for child welfare, similar to the Election Commission of India, where central, state, and district child protection bodies are monitored and held accountable.
- Identity linking: Every person’s DNA could be recorded in his Aadhaar card, allowing cases of abandonment and even foeticide to be checked using such tools by tracing parents and assigning responsibility.
The Fate Of The Nord Stream Pipelines Remains a Mystery
Since September 26th, reports of four separate leaks have come in from the pipelines that carry natural gas from Russia to Europe via the Baltic Sea and the North Sea.
GS Paper – 2: Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India’s Interests
What exactly are Nord Stream pipelines? Discuss the recent leakage crisis and the environmental consequences of such a leak. (250 Words)
The two pipelines that make up Nord Stream each have two separate lines.
- In 2011, construction on Nord Stream 1 was completed between Vyborg in Leningrad and Lubmin near Greifswald, Germany.
- In September of 2021, construction was finished on Nord Stream 2, which connects Ust-Luga in Leningrad with Lubmin.
- Once operational, it will be able to handle 55 bcm of gas per year, and the two pipelines together will be able to send 110 bcm of gas per year to Europe for at least half a century.
- The Nord Stream pipeline travels through the territorial waters of Russia, Denmark, and Germany as well as the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany.
- Connecting to the European grid via the OPAL (Baltic Sea Pipeline) and NEL (North European Pipeline) in Germany.
The significance of this pipeline
- Increased reliance on Russian gas by Europe
- More than 40% of Europe’s annual natural gas demand is met by imports from Russia.
- This gas is used for both heating and powering buildings throughout Europe during the cold, long winters.
- To lessen reliance on Russian gas, however, is challenging because there are no simple substitutes. Importing LNG from countries that already export it, like Qatar and the United States, is not possible due to a lack of infrastructure.
- As Germany moves away from nuclear power and coal, its reliance on Russian gas has grown.
- Most economical choice
- As Germany moves away from nuclear power and coal, its reliance on Russian gas has grown.
- There will be no more dangerous gas shipments through transit countries thanks to Nord Stream 2.
- A land pipeline connecting Russia and Europe already exists, and it traverses Ukraine.
- Ukraine’s lucrative annual transit fees of about $3 billion could be lost if Russia decided to avoid using its pipeline.
- It provides direct access to Germany, its most important European customer, and eliminates operating costs by eliminating transit fees.
- It deepens Europe’s reliance on Russia while also providing that country with a steady clientele.
- Value to Russia
- Roughly 40% of Russia’s budget is supported by revenues from the sale of gas and oil, despite the fact that the country has the world’s largest natural gas reserves.
So, what exactly has transpired here?
- Since September 26th, reports of four separate leaks have come in from the Nord Stream pipelines that connect Russia and Europe.
- Danish and Swedish seismologists detected underwater explosions close to the future sites of the first two leaks.
- Damage to the pipelines caused by this has caused gas to leak from the pipelines.
Effects of the Spills
- The infrastructure for transporting gas has been hampered, and its normal functioning is not likely to be restored for some time.
- The pipelines were unlikely to supply any gas to Europe in the coming winter months due to the lack of certainty surrounding the timeline for repairs.
- Because of the leaks, gas prices in Europe skyrocketed.
- Analysts are also concerned about the leaks’ potential effects on the environment.
- oThe combined leaks, according to technical experts, initially released more than 500 metric tonnes of methane per hour before slowing down.