IASCLUB DAily Current Affairs : 12 August 2019

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The transgenders’ rights Bill

Topic: GS–II: Social Justice  

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 19, was passed by a voice vote on August 5. A contentious provision that criminalised begging by transgender people has been removed from the Bill.

Who is a transgender person?

  • The Bill defines a transgender as a person whose gender assigned at birth does not match with his/her perceived gender. This includes trans-men, trans-women, “(whether or not such person has undergone Sex Reassignment Surgery or hormone therapy or laser therapy or such other therapy), person with intersex variations, genderqueer and person having such socio-cultural identities as kinner, hijra, aravani and jogta”.

What are the provisions?

  • The Bill states that a transgender person shall have the right to self-perceived gender identity. It prohibits discrimination against a transgender person on grounds including denial, discontinuation or unfair treatment in educational establishments, services, employment, and healthcare.
  • According to an analysis by PRS Legislative Research, every transgender person will have the right to be included in their household, and in case the immediate family is unable to take care of the person, he/she may be placed in a rehabilitation centre.
  • The government shall provide education, sports and recreational facilities for transgender people. Provisions for separate HIV surveillance centres and sex reassignment surgeries should also be provided by the government, as per the Bill.
  • The Bill mentions that the “appropriate Government” will formulate transgender sensitive, non-stigmatising and non-discriminatory welfare schemes and programmes. Additionally, the government should also take steps for the rescue, rehabilitation and protection of transgender persons.

The Grievance Redressal Mechanism

  • The Bill states that every establishment will have to appoint a complaints officer to deal with complaints relating to the violation of any provisions.

What is the Certificate of Identity?

  • A transgender person will have to make an application to the District Magistrate, who will issue a certificate of identity to the transgender person. Essentially, this certificate will be proof that the person is a transgender, reflecting their gender as “transgender”.
  • Subsequently, the gender of the person as reflected in the certificate will be recorded in all official documents. In case of a minor child, such an application will be made by the parent or guardian of the child. A transgender person will be eligible for a revised certificate only if he/she undergoes surgery to change their gender.

National Council for Transgender Persons

  • In order to exercise the provisions and functions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, the Central Government will set up the National Council for Transgender Persons (NCT), on appointment. This body will consist of the Union Minister for Social Justice (Chairperson), a Minister of State for Social Justice (Vice- Chairperson), a Secretary of the Ministry of Social Justice, and one representative each from ministries including Health, Home Affairs, and Human Resources Development.
  • Representatives of the NITI Aayog and the National Human Rights Commission will also be included, along with five members from the transgender community and five experts from non-governmental organisations.
  • This body will advise, monitor and review the policies and schemes formulated by the central government for transgender people.

What constitutes offences and penalties under this Bill?

  • Any person who is found to be compelling a trangender person into bonded labour (barring compulsory service imposed by the government), denying right of public passage to a transgender person, evicting a transgender from his/her place of residence, causing physical, sexual, verbal, economic and emotional abuse, can be penalised with imprisonment of not less than six months, that can extend up to two years, and be also fined.

Key provisions of the Bill to regulate surrogacy

Topic: GS –II: Governance

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2019, which proposes to ban commercial surrogacy, was passed by Lok Sabha on August 5.

What is commercial surrogacy?

  • Surrogacy is defined as the practice in which a woman gives birth to a child for a couple, referred to as an “intending couple”, with the intention to hand over the child to that couple.
  • An ‘intending couple’ are a couple who have medically been proved as infertile. Ordinarily, in surrogacy, eggs are extracted from the intending mother and after fertilisation, are implanted in the surrogate mother’s uterus.
  • Surrogacy can be either altruistic or commercial. In the former, no monetary considerations are involved, except medical expenses and insurance. In the case of commercial surrogacy, the woman who gives birth to a child for the intending couple is rewarded for it in cash or kind.

Who can be a surrogate mother?

  • Chapter I of the Bill defines a surrogate mother as, “a woman bearing a child (who is genetically related to the intending couple) through surrogacy from the implantation of the embryo in her womb…”. A married woman between the ages of 25 and 35 who has a child of her own can be a surrogate or can help in surrogacy by donating her egg. The surrogate mother needs to be a close relative of the intending couple and can become a surrogate only once in her lifetime. Additionally, a woman cannot become a surrogate mother by providing her own gametes (unfertilised eggs).

When is surrogacy permitted?

  • As per the Bill, only altruistic surrogacy will be permitted in India, in cases where either or both members of the couple suffer from infertility, of which the certificate of essentiality is proof. Additionally, a certificate of eligibility is issued to the intending couple and is proof that the couple has been married for at least five years, and are Indian citizens. The wife must be in the age group of 23-50, and the husband in the age group of 26-55.
  • The intending couple should not have any surviving biological child, through adoption or through surrogacy. An exception is made if the intending couple has a surviving child who is mentally or physically challenged, or is suffering from a fatal illness with no permanent cure.

Where can surrogacy procedures be carried out?

  • Only surrogacy clinics registered under the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2019 will be able to perform procedures related to surrogacy. The Bill defines surrogacy procedures as “all gynaecological, obstetrical or medical procedures, techniques, tests, practices or services involving the handling of human gametes and the human embryo in surrogacy”.

Who can be guilty of commercial surrogacy?

  • According to the Bill, if an individual is found advertising or undertaking surrogacy, exploiting the surrogate mother, selling, importing, purchasing or trading human embryos or gametes for surrogacy, conducting sex selection for surrogacy, or has abandoned, exploited or disowned a surrogate child, he/she can be liable for imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh.

Other provisions

  • In case abortion of a surrogate foetus is considered, only the consent of the surrogate mother is required, as per the provisions under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The intending couple has no say in this decision. On the other hand, after being born, the child is considered to be the biological child of the intending couple.

July 2019, hottest ever month on record

Topic: GS-III: Environment

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that July 2019 matched, and possibly broke, the record for the hottest month since analysis began.

  • The finding emerged from analysis of new data from the WMO and the Copernicus Climate Change Programme, run by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. The previous warmest month on record was July 2016, and July 2019 was at least on par with it.
  • Every month in 2019 has ranked among the four warmest for the month in question, and June was the warmest June ever recorded, the Copernicus Programme said in a statement. July 2019 was close to 1.2°C above the pre-industrial level.
  • The Paris Agreement set specific ‘temperature targets’ with a goal to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels; and to aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C.

Why it’s a concern:

  • Exceptional heat has been observed across the globe in recent weeks, with several European countries recording temperature highs. “The extraordinary heat was accompanied by dramatic ice melt in Greenland, in the Arctic and on European glaciers. Unprecedented wildfires raged in the Arctic for the second consecutive month, devastating once pristine forests which used to absorb carbon dioxide and instead turning them into fiery sources of greenhouse gases.
  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres says that this year alone, we have seen temperature records shattered from New Delhi to Anchorage, from Paris to Santiago, from Adelaide and to the Arctic Circle. If we do not take action on climate change now, these extreme weather events are just the tip of the iceberg. And, indeed, the iceberg is also rapidly melting.

Northeast crowds list of states with most dense tree & forest cover

Topic: GS-III: Environment

A quarter of India’s geographical area (24.49 per cent) is under forest and tree cover, according to data shared in Parliament by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

More in news:

  • These assessments are done by the Forest Survey of India, whose findings are published in the India State of Forest Report (ISFR). The last report was published in 2017.
  • The lowest forest and tree cover in the country is in Haryana, at 6.79 per cent of its geographical area. Punjab follows with 6.87 per cent. Rajasthan’s forest and tree cover is over 7.26 per cent of its geographical area while Madhya Pradesh’s is 27.73 per cent.
  • At 97 per cent, the Union Territory of Lakshadweep is on top – its geographical area is only 30 square km.
  • Among the six states with the highest forest and tree cover, four are in the Northeast – Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Meghalaya.

  • Goa and Kerala are two other states with more than 50 per cent of their geographical area under forest and tree cover.
  • In terms of geographical area, the highest tree and forest cover is in Madhya Pradesh, with 85,487 sq km.

Editorial section:

The imprint of a state juggernaut- The Hindu

Dealing with doping- The Hindu

Hong Kong on the brink- The Hindu

A point to ponder over in the POCSO Bill- The Hindu

Rethinking water governance strategies- The Hindu




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