Pale Blue Dot

 

In the photograph, Earth’s apparent size is less than a pixel; the planet appears as a tiny dot against the vastness of space
In the photograph, Earth’s apparent size is less than a pixel; the planet appears as a tiny dot against the vastness of space

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

Street Vendors Act

Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to regulate street vendors in public areas and protect their rights.

  • The Bill provides for constitution of a Town Vending Authority in each Local Authority, which is the fulcrum of the Bill, for implementing the provisions of the Bill.
  • To avoid arbitrariness of authorities, the Bill provides for a survey of all existing street vendors and issue of certificate of vending to all the street vendors in the vending zones subject to a norm-conforming to 2.5% of the population of the ward or zone or town or city, where the number of street vendors more, draw of lots for issuing the certificate and the remaining persons will be accommodated in any adjoining vending zone to avoid relocation.
  • It has also been provided that in case a street vendor, to whom a certificate of vending is issued, dies or suffers from any permanent disability or is ill, one of his family member i.e. spouse or dependent child can vend in his place, till the validity of the certificate of vending.
  • Procedure for relocation, eviction and confiscation of goods has been specified and made street vendor friendly. It is proposed to provide for recommendation of the TVC, as a necessary condition for relocation being carried out by the local authority.
  • The Local authority is required to make out a plan once in every 5 years, on the recommendation of TVC, to promote a supportive environment and adequate space for urban street vendors to carry out their vocation.
  • There is a provision for establishment of an independent dispute redressal mechanism under the chairmanship of retired judicial officers to maintain impartiality towards grievance redressal of street vendors.
  • The Bill provides the time period for release of seized goods, for both perishable and non-perishable goods. In the case of non-perishable goods, the local authority is required to release the goods within two working days and in case of perishable goods, the goods shall be released the same day, of the claim being made.
  • The Bill also provides for promotional measures to be undertaken by the Government, towards availability of credit, insurance and other welfare schemes of social security, capacity building programmes, research, education and training programme etc. for street vendors.
  • Section 29 of the Bill provides for protection of street vendors from harassment by police and other authorities and provides for an overriding clause to ensure they carry on their business without the fear of harassment by the authorities under any other law.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Regulation Bill

surrogacyThe proposed law aims for legitimate regulation and supervision of ART(Assisted Reproductive Technology) facilities and banks in the nation to prevent abusing of this innovation, including surrogacy, and for safe and moral practice of these services. 

Eligibility
The Government of India has suggested that surrogacy for the foreigner in India should not be permitted and surrogacy shall only be permissible to overseas citizens of India (OCIs), people of Indian origin (PIOs), non-resident Indians (NRIs) and any foreigner married to an Indian citizen.

The eligible couple will have to produce an appropriately notarized agreement with the prospective Indian surrogate mother. Further, they need to sign an undertaking that they would take care of the child conceived through surrogacy.

For foreigner married to an Indian, the Bill makes it obligatory for the couple to be married with the marriage sustaining for at least 2 years. They will further need to submit certificate attested by an appropriate government authority of that country, conveying that the woman is not able to conceive.

Citizenship
The Government has likewise said that the child born to a foreigner married to an Indian resident by sperm or egg donation, or surrogacy in India won’t be an Indian citizen, in spite of being born in India, and will be entitled to Overseas Citizenship of India under Section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

National Registry
The draft Bill also establishes the National Registry. The registry will maintain a central database which will contain details of ART clinics and ART banks. ART clinics will be responsible for carrying out ART procedures. The ART banks will be responsible for supply of gametes and surrogate mothers to ART clinics.

As per ART Bill, any woman agreeing to go about as a surrogate shall be duty-bound for all relavent activities, including unprotected sex that may harm the foetus during pregnancy and the child after birth, until the time the child is handed over to the designated commissioning couple.

The last date for submitting comments is November 13, 2015.