Make sex/gender determination tests compulsory

Photos by – Irina Murza and at Unsplash

The PC-PNDT Act is a 1994 act of parliament that outlaws the gender determination of the foetus before birth.

The intent of the PC-PNDT Act is to prevent female foeticide and to correct the poor gender/sex ratio in India. 

Assuming near parity in the number of girls and boys, the current national sex ratio suggests that 7% of all girls are missing. I.e 3.5% of the national population of 1.2 billion, which is about 50 million missing girls/women.

The PC-PNDT Act has been a total failure. The improvements in child sex ratio are marginal and it’s likely a result of a more educated/literate population and not a result of the PC-PNDT Act.

Now, the Act is causing more damage than good. Sonography is a fast growing, emerging area of diagnostics and hand held devices with intelligent software on the cloud are changing the face of diagnostics that work using sound wave sensors.

Given the failure of the Act and the democratisation of the technology, it makes far more sense to make gender/sex determination compulsory for all pregnant women in India. This is easy to do and enforce by simply linking it to claiming of future benefits and rights.

By making sex determination compulsory, we will be able to track every girl child and make parents and caregivers responsible to give reasons for death or poor nutritional status of the child.  Unusual cases can be investigated (without harassment) and people responsible for foeticide can be brought to justice.

The PC-PNDT Act must go.

Goa Burning!

Goa Tourism has a serious problem and it is in the air!

I go to Goa very frequently. Several times a year and have been doing that for the last 25 years.

Goa has changed a lot in this time. The Russian and North Indian tourists have greatly changed the character of Goa. Some people dislike it but most don’t mind. I am indifferent.

However, the biggest risk to Goan tourism in my view is its garbage burning problem.

Almost everywhere in Goa, people burn garbage everyday at street corners and other places.

The acrid smell of the smoke from burning garbage is everywhere in the evenings.

This is not just a problem of pollution by particulate matter. Because the garbage includes plastics, there are toxic dioxins as well.

Goa must clamp down heavily on this problem and increase the effectiveness of its waste collection infrastructure. Else it risks chasing away health conscious tourists.

The anti-vaccine movements will fail

Unless there is an alternative to vaccines, a technology breakthrough that is not on the horizon, the anti-vaccine movements in various countries are doomed to fail.

The diseases are coming back and with their increase, communities worldwide will not risk their lives or the lives of their children. Loss of herd immunity will also threaten the vaccinated population with disease.

People who refuse to vaccinate their children risk being socially isolated. Their children will not be able to attend mainstream schools or colleges. Eventually, the few who hold out may even be restricted to quarantined areas.

Theirs is a battle that they are destined to lose. But at what cost? When?

Photos – credits to Hyttalo Souza and Lucas Vasques on Unsplash

The golden past and other such fictions

Almost all the gains in human well-being across the world have happened in the last 250 years.

We live longer and better than ever before.

There was no golden past.

Except for a minuscule few who were either rulers or priests or merchants, the vast majority of the population in every part of the world lived on the brink of starvation and death, which could both come any time and from many possible causes.

This article in VOX captures the key data for the last 3000 years which shows this.

The world’s first humans with augmented intelligence?

Will DeepMind create the world’s first neural interfaces?

Humans wired to DeepMind will have superhuman capabilities. They will be able to solve practical problems by accessing the AI working on some of the largest data sets in the world. Across business, finance, investing, technology, sciences, medicine, arts and much more.

This article by Michael Spencer seems to believe that this will be the case and that this will create a dangerous monopoly. Decimating Google’s existing business but replacing it with something much more powerful. –