Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Kamal Nath is in the middle of a controversy yet again- this time for reigniting the sterilisation agenda of the Congress that had caused ripples across the country during the Emergency days.
The National Health Mission (NHM) of the Madhya Pradesh government has directed top district officials and the Chief Medical and Health Officers to undertake the exercise of identifying male health workers who did not sterilise even a single man in 2019-20.
There is still a month before the Financial year ends, and the Madhya Pradesh government has issued a diktat similar to the one that was issued during Emergency- “no work no pay” principle for those who fail to bring even one man for sterilisation. Moreover, those who officials who fail to comply with the draconian directions will be compulsorily retired.
— Economic Times (@EconomicTimes) February 21, 2020
When such draconian directions are given and diktats are issued to the government officials and health workers, it leads to forced sterilisations. Working with set targets that are enforced in accordance with the incumbent regime’s agenda leads to coercive vasectomies and mutilations.
And we have also seen this on a large scale before. During the Emergency era, sterilisation spree of the kind that Kamal Nath is promoting now was at the top of the agenda of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s son, Sanjay Gandhi.
After Proclamation of Emergency came into force, 62 Lakh men had been sterilised by 1976, while two thousand men had died from botched operations. According to science journalist, Mara Hvistendahl, the number of those sterilised by the Indira Gandhi regime was 15 times the number of those sterilised by the Nazis.
Now, when health workers will be extended to the State-sponsored threat of job loss on the failure to bring people for sterilisation, it will definitely lead to forced sterilisations. The documents will obviously mention that health workers have to bring them with their consent, the ground realities will be very different.
During the Emergency era, there used to be a saying, “Indira Gandhi ke do hath, Sanjay Gandhi aur Kamalnath” Kamal Nath was a close aide of Sanjay Gandhi, the man behind the sterilisation campaign at the time. Clearly, old habits die hard.
Given his background and the stark semblance of the arbitrary directions with the sterilisation campaign of the 1970s, analogies are bound to be drawn. Kamal Nath has therefore reignited the horrors of the Sanjay Gandhi era with his sterilisation diktat.