Thursday, May 26, 2011

Family planning is back as population stabilisation in India

Indian health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was quite conscious of the controversy surrounding the word, 'family planning' in the 1970s when it was misused in quite a burtal manner during the Emergency period from June 1975 to January 1977. The general view was that forced family planning through vasectomy operations and through targets was the handiwork of authoritarian Sanjay Gandhi, who was the extra-constitutional authority during that brrief dark moment in the history of independent India. Congress paid a heavy price as it was booted out of power in the March 1977 Lok Sabha elections and brought in the first non-Congress government to power at the centre. Congressmen and Congresswomen learnt a bitter lesson which they have not forgotten 35 years later.

Speaking to journalists as part of the UPA2 government's deliberate decision to engage with the media, Azad said that the government will now be going into a 'population stabilistaion' programme across the country, and he said that it was for the first time after 35 years that it has become possible to talk openly of population control. He has assured that this time round all that the government would do is to distribute contraceptives at the block level -- an administrative unit comprising a score of villages or so -- and it will be left to the people to choose. This is going to be entirely voluntary, Azad took care to emphasise.

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