This Sperm Counts

Amba Batra Bakshi | Outlook | 3 November 2008

The Indian obsession with ‘white skin’ begins early these days. Now, childless Indian couples aspiring for offspring have a large roster of demands: fairer skin, light hair and blue/green eyes. And they’re thronging sperm banks and fertility centres across the country looking for “firangi” donors to ensure they get it. So, foreigners visiting India or residing here are being tapped for gametes—to beget, by proxy, children with lighter skin pigment and eye tone. “We get about 10-15 requests every day for fair babies,” says Dr Anoop Gupta of the Delhi In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) Fertility Research Centre. “They include almost all couples from South India and a large number of nris .”

The sperm bank at Gupta’s centre too has a large number of foreign donors. “We encourage foreign donors,” he says. “Most of them are exchange students studying medicine and engineering who are commercial donors back in their countries and donate here regularly.” Male donors get anywhere up to Rs 2,000; women who donate their eggs get between Rs 30,000 and Rs 45,000.

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