Monday, February 27, 2006

The ghost of Sanjay Gandhi?

The Telegraph has a disturbing story, about a kind of forced sterlization program in Uttar Pradesh.
Thousands of primary school teachers have been ordered to find two "volunteers" for sterilisation as part of a draconian solution to India's population explosion.

The order was issued to 6,400 teachers in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state (pop 170 million), where the teachers have been given until March 31 to meet the "sterilisation target" or face disciplinary action.
The plan, imposed by a district magistrate in the southern city of Allahabad, is a radical approach to dealing with India's population of almost 1.1 billion.
The nation's population, as displayed on a giant screen in the capital at noon yesterday, stood at 1,089,752,843. It is expected to overtake China (currently 1.3 billion) by 2020 as the world's most populous nation. It is estimated that 29 children are born in India every minute.
The magistrate, Amrit Abhijat, has remained unapologetic despite an outcry from religious groups and social activists. They say the scheme evokes memories of the forced sterilisation of the Indira Gandhi government of the 1970s, when nearly a million men and women, mostly from the lowest castes, were targeted. "The root cause of all evils is population explosion," Mr Abhijat said.
Experts disagree over whether the population will be a burden or a boon in the years ahead. Some economists predict India will benefit from the fact that China's economy is expected to slow by 2030 because of the ageing effects of its one-child policy.
India, by contrast, is one of the youngest countries in the world, with half the population now under 25, a fact that could give India a potential competitive edge over Europe where the population will soon be top-heavy with pensioners. Any advantage could depend on India's ability to educate its masses sufficiently to compete in the global economy.
[Lifted from Zadok]
[Sanjay Gandhi, elder son of Indira Gandhi, who was killed in a plane crash in 1980, gained notoriety, among other things, for a forced sterlization campaign in the UP in the mid--70s during Emergency (when Mrs. G invoked a draconian clause in the Constitution, and suspended parliament, effectively killing democracy for two years). When elections were held in 1977, this campaign was supposed to have been one of the contributors to Mrs. Gandhi's electoral defeat. It didn't last long, the opposition Janta government lasted three years, and Mrs. G was back in power in 1980.]


chez said...

hmm...surprising that this one didn't get picked up by the local media. They are too busy with the annual budget and Bush's visit I guess.

Gashwin said...

Yeah, I just spoke to my folks and it was all budget and Bush. Besides, I would suspect there's a lot of sympathy from the whole "we must educate these poor illeterate masses who breed like rabbits" perspective that's so pervasive among the Indian elite.