News Wrap


India’s proposed parliamentary Billon Surrogacy bars married couples who have biological or adopted children, single people, live-in partners and homosexuals from opting for surrogacy. The Bill allows ‘‘altruistic surrogacy’’ for childless couples who have been married for at least five years. The surrogate mother is required to be a ‘‘close relative’’ of the couple. She should be married and have borne a child of her own. Barred from opting for surrogacy are foreigners, non-resident Indians and persons important overseas who hold Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Certificate. Anand town in Gujarat has countless IVF clinics, and ready availability of surrogates. Some women are critical of the Bill, as they feel it is too stringent in its scope. Besides the surrogate mother giving joy to another women, the surrogate system improves the financial situation of the surrogate mother. Needy families will be economically distressed. ‘‘Altruistic Surrogacy’’ may fail in India, as the needy turn to surrogate births. Money is the main reason behind the decision to become surrogates. There is a risk of the new law making surrogates unemployed. Bonds develop, as some foreign couples seek a family, and take care of their surrogates throughout their life. If a woman does not have a close relative willing to be her surrogate, she is deprived of all options. Compensation to surrogate mother is about Rs 3 lacs.

Demand and Deficit
The marked improvement in electricity power availability has resulted in higher capacity creation and generation, in India. There is a dramatic reduction in peak deficit to 1.9% in June 2016, from 2.9% (June 2015). Prices on the spot exchange have fallen steadily as a result. The day-ahead spot market rate had dropped to Rs 2.16 per kwh (July 2016), from Rs 3.54 per kwh (July 2015). The power situation is brighter caused by a good monsoon, more hydro-electric power into the grid, improvements in coal linkages via India’s first coal auctions, and better availability of cheaper gas. The average coal stock position has increased to 21 days from just seven in 2014. The new linkage policy leaves power plants free to access coal from the nearest and cheapest source. Thermal power plants now have considerable operational flexibility to manage costs.

While shortages and the high price of power have receded, there is a lower demand deficit and prices. The growth in power demand has not been as robust as generation. Over the past three years, India has added 80 GW of capacity, but demand rose by only 33 GW. Amount traded in the power spot market has dropped sharply from 13,799 units (2011-12) to 3,581 units (July 2016). The demands for June to October 2016, have been stagnant, for the months that typically experiences demand increases. The plant load factor has hovered at 65%.

NepalIs in Afghanistan
Nepalese workers, organised by Nepalese contractors, are a larger community of security guards from South Asia, who guard and stand sentry at foreign missions in Kabul. Many of the Nepalese guards have been working for months, just to recover the thousands of dollars in broker fees, they had paid to secure jobs in Afghanistan. The Nepalese workers are driven to work in Afghanistan, by collapsed economic prospects back home. The labour contractors are able to send desperately needed money back to their families. Nepalese guards enjoyed fewer privileges in their barracks than their ‘‘white brothers’’. They are even prevented from leaving their compound to go to a store. Unlike armoured cars that protect many western contractors, Nepalese guards are shuttles around in ordinary minibuses. A Nepalese worker pays a broker about $3300 to get to Kabul, where his remuneration is about $950 a month, which is a fraction of the salaries paid to western security contractors. Thousands of Nepalese workers are working around Afghanistan, including veterans of British, Indian or Nepalese Gurkha units. In the third week of June 2016, a Taliban suicide bomber killed 15 men, 13 Nepalese and two Indian workers, who helped secure the Canadian Embassy, striking the guards’ commuter bus, just after it had picked them up at their residence compound. Between July 2016 to October 2016, another 20 Nepalese have been killed in Afghanistan by sniper fire and shrapnel.

Vol. 49, No.21, Nov 27 - Dec 3, 2016