Sterilisation in India

By Acharya, Keya | Contemporary Review, July 2001 | Go to article overview

Sterilisation in India


Acharya, Keya, Contemporary Review


THE Chief Minister, Digvijay Singh, calls it consciousness-raising. His executive secretary, R. Gopalakrishnan, says it's a gimmick. Firebrand feminist Member of Parliament Shabana Azmi declares it unconstitutional. New population-control legislation passed by the huge central Indian province of Madhya Pradesh, banning those candidates having their third or subsequent child after January 2001 from standing for village council polls, is arousing strong passions.

Singh's administration claims its population control plan will empower women by offering them contraceptive choices and childcare facilities. Azmi disagrees. 'How can women help population control when they have no say in the number of children they have?'

India established the world's first national family planning programme over 50 years ago, and the country's overall total fertility rate has declined in the last twenty years. But Madhya Pradesh's growth rate is 40 per cent higher than the national average. The law follows a federal population policy introduced in February 2000. Its long-term objective is to stabilise the country's population by 2045 by reducing the total fertility rate -- the number of children a woman will bear during her reproductive years -- from 3.13 in 1999 to 2.1 by 2010.

While the national policy includes some progressive measures such as promoting primary education for girls, addressing the need for contraception and granting state incentives to reduce infant mortality, there are disincentives for those who do not toe the two-child line. Health insurance will only be provided to the poor if they undergo sterilisation after two children. Although targets for contraceptive use were officially dropped in 1996, quotas for government health workers were never eliminated. Instead, they have been renamed with euphemisms like 'Expected Levels of Achievement'.

Abuses of women's reproductive health and rights are rife. Oral contraceptive pills are distributed by health workers without mention of possible side effects. Until a recent Supreme Court decision banning its use, the drug quinacrine had been used to sterilise women despite a World Health Organization warning about side effects. All this has led activists to charge the Indian government with violating its promise to honour international pledges rejecting the use of family planning quotas and coercion to achieve lower fertility rates.

Madhya Pradesh -- part of the northern tier of poverty-stricken and populous states -- is not alone in punishing large families. A bill before the Delhi assembly proposes that families with more than two children be denied ration cards that allow cheap food, bank loans and enrolment in government housing schemes.

For human rights activitsts -- and ordinary citizens -- the new population control moves invoke the spectre of state-sponsored rights abuses in pursuit of contraceptive targets. Seared into public memory are the forcible mass sterilisation camps for women and men set up in the mid-1970s by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Protests over these camps are believed to have helped bring down Gandhi's government in 1977. But the fear was so great, recalls Dr Thelma Narayan, member of India's Population Commission, that villagers would run away from health workers long after the Gandhi government fell. The family planning programme virtually collapsed, before recovering several years later.

Mindful of the legacy, India's current prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, among politicians who opposed the Gandhi government excesses, recently warned health officials in another northern state, Uttar Pradesh, that achieving family planning goals 'shouldn't be done the way it was in the late 1970s don't force people. Spread awareness, instead'. But Brinda Karat, a prominent left-wing activist belonging to the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA), believes the government has not shed its fondness for bloated budgets -- swollen by foreign donors with their own population agendas -- in pursuit of slashing birth rates. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sterilisation in India
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.