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NEW DELHI: When the pandemic shut down their auto-parts supply business in Maharashtra last year, Sheetal pawned her gold jewellery to repay debts. A lull in Covid-19 cases in the country brought the couple hope that income would pick up. Then, the second wave hit.

“This time, there was nothing left to sell or pawn,” said Rahul, Sheetal’s husband, who took up a job as a mechanic, but the pay was barely enough for their sustenance. Soon they were missing payments of their 8-year-old son’s school fees.
“We had heard about clinics where one could become a surrogate. We discussed it and Sheetal decided to become one. The money would keep us afloat until things get better,” said Rahul. His wife, 37, and three months pregnant, is currently a resident at Kiran Infertility Centre in Hyderabad.

Since the pandemic, the centre in Hyderabad has recorded “an exponential rise” in women approaching it to become egg donors or surrogates, according to Dr Samit Sekhar, executive director and embryologist at Kiran.

“Inquiries from women wanting to become surrogates have increased up to... see more