The Hindu | Mysuru March 08, 2017 | Karnataka | ‘Smart cradles’ to the rescue of deserted newborns |
A smart cradle designed by the National Institute of Engineering (NIE), an engineering college in Mysuru, has caught the attention of the Women and Child Welfare Department, which is planning to place them at key locations so that unwed mothers can safely handover the newborns to the authorities instead of either selling or abandoning them. The smart cradle has been equipped with an alarm system that goes off in five minutes after the baby has been placed, providing sufficient time for the mothers, who want their anonymity to be protected, to leave the place. While clarifying that the department’s move to place these cradles was not to encourage people to abandon children, Mysuru District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) R. Nagaraj told The Hindu that the authorities hope to deter unwed mothers from either selling the newborns or abandoning them near drains or streets, where they are often at the mercy of street dogs. While a prototype of the smart cradle has already been kept outside Bapuji Children’s Home, an institution which provides shelter to abandoned children in Mysuru, orders have been placed for two more such cradles.
Claiming that the number of unwed mothers delivering babies had increased in recent times, particularly from rural areas, Mr. Nagaraj said a total of seven newborns were voluntarily surrendered to the authorities since January 2016 while at least four more were found abandoned in different places. Two of the voluntarily surrendered children had been kept in the cradle outside Bapuji Children’s Home, he said. “Officials of the department from different districts of the State too have evinced interest in the smart cradles,” Mr Nagaraj said, adding that the two to be delivered shortly will be placed outside the Government Home for Girls on Lalith Mahal Palace Road and Government Home for Destitute Women in Vijayanagar II Stage in the city.Emphasising on the need to ensure the safety of the child, Mr. Nagaraj said the authorities also accept newborns handed over to them personally. “We will not ask the mother or others any questions,” he assured. The surrendered children will be taken care at specialised adoption agencies registered by the State government till they are handedover to childless couples, who are registered with the Central Adoption Resource Authority. “About 1,800 couples in Karnataka have registered themselves and are awaiting children for adoption. There are about 270 children available for adoption in the State now,” he added. Meanwhile, K.R. Prakash, Head, Centre for Automation Technology, NIE, said the smart cradle was designed and developed by Ajit, a student of Industrial Automation and Robotics, who passed out from the institute last year. “NIE has now outsourced the technology to an alumnus of the college, who runs a fabrication unit, to make the smart cradles,” he added. – Courtesy