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Saturday, June 30, 2007

My thoughts for this Saturday

Even playing field is needed.

Do you know this? If you purchased your air ticket for domestic travel in India from a foreign destination, your computer IP address is recognized and your price is automatically calculated in foreign currency which could be significantly higher (in exchange rate conversion) than the same ticket purchased in India (at the same time). Imagine this: You would be traveling in the same plane, to the same destination and rendered same services yet you pay more simply because you’re a foreigner, how would you like that? Well…..what does this got to do with adoptions? Read on:

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We are talking about the price disparities to adopt the same child by Indian/ Foreign nationals.

As per CARA price guidelines (Annexure III of in-country adoptions), domestic adoption should cost no more than 25,200 rupees (Rs. 15000/- for maintenance plus Rs. 9,000/- medical care plus Rs. 1200 for registration and home study). This expense doesn’t include fee for legal services, travel, boarding & lodging etc. Here is CARA link to this information: http://www.adoptionindia.nic.in/guide_incountry_ann_3.htm

As per CARA price guidelines (clause 5.17 a), in inter-country adoption, an adoption fee of fixed amount of US$3500/- or its equivalent in Indian rupees will be payable by the adoptive parents to the Recognized Indian Placement Agencies (RIPA) through EFAA (enlisted foreign adoption agency) or a central authority. Here is a CARA link to this information: http://www.adoptionindia.nic.in/guide_inter_country_chap5.htm

As the United States of America is the largest recipient of Indian children, let’s use USA as an example for a foreign country in this discussion. Take a look at this table below:

India:
Per capita income (PCI): Rs. 20,734/-
Maximum adoption costs (MAC): Rs. 25,200/-
% of PCI to MAC: 121.539%

USA:
Per capita income (PCI): ~ $ 42000/-
Maximum adoption costs (MAC): $3500
% of PCI to MAC: 8.33%


An average Indian is asked to pay 121% of their annual income to adopt a child compared to 8.3% of annual income of an American citizen. Who do you think finds it relatively easy to raise the needed money?

An average American citizen is paying 5.5 times more ($3500 X Rs. 40/- conversion rate divided by Rs. 25,200/-) than an average Indian citizen payment to adopt the same child. Who do think the adoption agency finds attractive?

Now knowing what we know, one wonders why? Why such a price disparity? Every country loves to have stash of foreign reserves and India is no different. But that is in a commercial environment to have a competitive edge. Here CARA guidelines (clause 5.17 a) clearly says that an adoption agency pursues only non-profit objectives. If one argues that an adoption agency needs money to support themselves, the question is why only from foreigners? Why not also from Indians? Moreover, isn’t it the responsibility of a government which boasts of US $212 billions of foreign reserves to support their own current citizens and future leaders?

Lastly how do we fix it? Answer is quite clear and simple. Make the playing field even for every adoptive family across the globe. Bring down the foreigners cost equal to Indians cost to adopt, that is Rs. 25,200/- (equivalent amount for foreigners in their own currency). That will be US $620/- for Americans (Rs. 25,200 divided by 40 rupees of exchange rate today). Foreigners are already paying quite a bit for other expenses in their own country and this will come as an added relief.

There is an argument that mere equality in pricing in itself gives the foreigners more advantage as their currency has more purchasing power. So be it, and CARA has guidelines for RIPA’s to follow in placing children in homes in an order beginning with Indian citizens in India first. At least the playing field is even and no one feels that they have been denied of an opportunity because they couldn’t afford.

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