Australia has gained tremendous importance in recent times as the US pivots to the Pacific. Just like Israel is considered to be America’s permanent aircraft carrier in the ME, AUS may be the place to be for the US military looking to offset China.
India and AUS relations are generally friendly (driven by the same security concerns as noted above) but local events (-ve) have had a tendency to overwhelm govt to govt (G2G) relations (+ve). For a while AUS had the same problem as UK, many rich and rowdy Indian kids coming ashore to study in fake colleges (and fake degrees) with the hope of gaining residency. A number of assaults on Indians generated a lot of heat in terms of reports of racism etc to the point where the settled Indian community got alarmed that the image of Indians were being affected (as a model minority). Also caught in the web was Md. Haneef, who was accused and detained without charge (he later received $1M and an apology).
One particular concern at the G2G level was how AUS will handle requests from India for uranium which will disturb the regional balance (read Pakistan). Many Aussies are deeply unhappy on grounds of nuclear proliferation and nuclear safety.
The “Financial Review” opined, “There are also question marks about safety standards in the Indian nuclear industry, with a recent report by the nation’s auditor-general finding major faults in terms of inspections, monitoring and verification of the disposal of nuclear waste. Australia needs to ensure it is not providing fuel to nuclear reactors with the potential to be the world’s next Chernobyl. Or, to weapons-making facilities.”
The criticism is that India is getting a pass under US pressure with Australian leaders behaving as “US poodle” aka Tony Blair. Security concerns creates common friendships leading to more security concerns.
In a happy turn of events Aussie PM signed off on the nuclear deal even while she slipped up (literally) while wearing high heels on grass (Sahar should be warned). Undeterred by the grass in her face, she pointed out the moral of the story to a (male) journalist: how men can never understand the magic woman screens (Zachary should be warned).
“For men who get to wear flat shoes all day every day, if you wear a heel it can get embedded in soft grass. And then when you pull your foot out, the shoe doesn’t come – and then the rest of it is as you saw.”
Left unsaid amidst all the diplomatic triumphs is that while all the coal and uranium is coming from AUS, India is doing more than her fair share in sending precious babies back.
India is now the baby hub of the Australasian world. The Aussies are queueing up for a ‘made in India’ baby as surrogacy is illegal in most Australian states (in the few where commercial surrogacy is permitted, the law recognises the surrogate as the legal mother). This has led to many Australians heading to countries where they can rent a womb.
India has become the destination of choice for fertility tourists: it’s cheap, has excellent doctors and, most importantly, has women ready to gestate a foetus to delivery for a price.
In fact, 1,500 children are born to parents across the world through a surrogate in India each year. And unofficial figures suggest that 179 babies were born to Australian parents last year in India.
The (AUS) high commission’s website now has a special section for “children born through surrogacy arrangements in India”, in which it advises Australians to exercise extreme caution when opting to go the surrogacy route, given the laws back in Australia and the legal status of surrogacy in the country. Then it goes on to list, in painstaking detail, the steps that need to be taken for legalising the process. It states a large number of documents and tests, such as a DNA test for the parents in Australia and for the child in specific centres in Delhi and Mumbai.
That the move to have a baby in India is fast gaining popularity in Australia can also be attributed to couples sharing their stories on social media networks and YouTube and urging other parents to try India for a hassle-free surrogate experience.
Surrogacy Laws India, a Delhi-based law firm specialising in surrogacy, emphasises that “international surrogacy involves bilateral issues, where the laws of both the nations have to be at par, or else the concerns and interests of parties involved will remain unresolved. Due regard must be given to such concerns in order to protect against the commercialisation of the human reproductive system, the exploitation of women and the commodification of children.”
Julia Gillard is famously able to stand up for herself (except when she slips up by herself). But she is probably not too worried about Indian women getting exploited and children getting commodified. The usual response (correct) would be that if India really cared it would have the proper laws in place. For now uranium vs babies sound like a good deal for everybody concerned.