Surrogate Mothers and the Indian Economy

In-vitro fertilization in the United States can cost infertile couples tens of thousands of dollars. If couples look overseas for a surrogate mother, they would only have to spend a fraction of that. In India, a surrogate pregnancy costs just $6000. For the average working person in India, it would take 10 years to earn the equivalent of $6000.

There are 600 IVF clinics in India and they bring roughly $400 million dollars a year into the local economy.

The Christian Science Monitor reported last year that 75% of the clients at Kaival Hospital in Anand are foreigners from the UK, the US, Japan and Southeast Asia.

Grameen Bank Opens a Branch in Queens

Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus was profiled this morning on This Week with George Stephanopolous. After seeing pawnshops, check-cashing counters and payday lenders in the American cities he has visited, Yunus decided to bring Grameen Bank to New York City. The bank makes microcredit loans primarily to low-income women in the community.

The check-cashing industry in particular irks Yunus. “It’s very humiliating that I have a check, even a government check, I cannot get it cashed.,” he said. “So I have to go to cash checking, and I have to spend a lot of money … and this is my hard-earned money. But I cannot take it to the bank and get the cash. … And then payday loans — this is another big business. That means a failure of the system.”

A Bush-Musharraf Comparison

Guess who said this:

“Just like Musharraf, since 9/11, the Bush administration has played both ends and the middle, assuring the American      people that it’s doing everything it can to protect them, while tiptoeing around our supposed ally,” Huckabee said. “It’s been afraid of upsetting the apple cart, even though the cart contains poisoned apples destined for export to the United States.”

Answer: Former Arkansas Governor and current Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. (Via TPM Election Central)

The Darjeeling Limited: Movies, India and Self-Discovery

Jonah Weiner has a very good essay in Slate about race relations in The Darjeeling Limited, the new Wes Anderson movie opening in New York this weekend. You should read the whole thing, but Weiner’s point can be summed up with “beware of any film in which an entire race and culture is turned into therapeutic scenery.”

There have been books, movies, and pop songs about Westerners traveling to India to find spiritual enlightenment before, of course. There’s City of Joy (Patrick Swayze goes to Calcutta), The Razor’s Edge (Bill Murray climbs the Himalayas), and After the Wedding (a Danish film about the manager of an Indian orphanage.)

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Global Warming and the Future of Bangladesh

The Himalayan glaciers are melting fast and Bangladesh is suffering because of it.  The melting ice has already caused sea levels to rise and the Washington Post today said that Bangladesh could lose up to 20% of its land by 2030.  The article also says that there could be as many as 20 million “climate refugees” from Bangladesh in 23 years.

Stories like this make me wish American environmental activists and celebrities would talk more about the damage that has already occurred because of global warming instead of discussing it as if it were a dangerous, yet thankfully distant, phenomenon.  It’s something we can’t neglect.