And we thought babies were made out of love…

Despite all our theorizing and debating, the poor continue to exist, inequality persists and the vulnerable continue to suffer due to discriminatory policies especially in areas of health, education and employment. And because the oppression and insecurity, both social and economic, are not as stark i.e. discrimination is far more refined and subtle, the identification of problem areas and realisation of a fair society becomes all the more difficult. About three weeks back, I heard of Christian orphanages being raided in the city of Hyderabad. It may have been motivated by communal politics. But I'm not here to examine those motivations or even the legal/police details or discrepancies that are involved. Neither would I question nor undermine the good faith in which these organizations work, provide shelter and care and also manage to find the children loving homes. Yes they make money and somewhere something inside twitches when one realizes that the charitable organization possibly earns a good amount of non-taxable foreign exchange when their babies find homes abroad. But " babies can't live with just love and air " . . . they need food, they need ayahs; and they also need toys. However if one goes a bit further one realizes the repercussions of such a network where charity meshes into commerce. In a society where exploitation and coercion is rampant and has weaved into every thread, we can ignore that little twitch for sometime. The end would nullify it. But we cannot turn away from the degenerative trends that it may put into action. Following this news, I read an article (HT) about a tribal woman being offered a sum of Rs. 2000 to deliver a baby which would then be taken to an orphanage by the broker. The babies of this tribe are high on demand because of their fair skin and good features. Whether or not the orphanage is aware or linked to these brokers or are even aware of them is impertinent. What is relevant is that the trend has been set and one can't ignore it. Today morning (04/06), I opened the editorial page of TOI and found an article about British girl students selling their eggs to childless parents to pay off their student loans. It is a convenient option for them and an alternative to not begin their life with a burden of 10000 pounds. They are able to sell their eggs for as much as 6000 pounds. And the price goes up if the student has a PhD; if she's a Jew or east African/Asian. Parents without children can start a family. The Woman who provides them with the option can start a new life without the burden of having to pack back a huge loan. But something inside still twitches and we must learn to ignore it. To delineate my argument: we have these two woman ... one who makes a baby and sells it so she can provide a square meal for her family ... the rest of her family. And the other who does something somewhat similar, but the coercion is not so stark. What a striking similarity between a woman of the developed world with a PhD degree and a tribal woman from Andhra Pradesh ... both experiencing the same element of duress. Our tribal woman has little choice, but maybe that is not so unfortunate because her duress is even more stark and lawmakers, if they so choose, can check it. Whereas their student who has more choices and is therefore more empowered, has little protection ... or probably she chooses not to have any. I suppose now I can once again come back to what I was saying earlier about how as we move up the ladder of development and empowerment... discrimination/coercion becomes more and more subtle. From ignoring a girl child's education to sexual harassment at office ... we are moving towards subtler forms of discrimination. But is this what my attempt is ... is this what our struggle is all about. That even though we can create choices for ourselves, the element of coercion continues and some of us are so confused about identifying them that we infact make choices that perpetuate that coercion.