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Friday 10 April 2020

Kamal Nath govt aborts forced sterilisation decree

The Madhya Pradesh government had issued an order to its health workers that their inability to meet sterilisation targets would be punished

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Following the ruckus over the ‘decree’ issued about sterilisation, the Kamal Nath government of Madhya Pradesh has withdrawn the order. Madhya Pradesh Health Minister Tulsi Silavat shared this information.

The Madhya Pradesh government has removed Chitra Bhardwaj, director of the National Health Mission in the state, who had issued the order. She has been transferred as an officer on special duty (OSD) in the Secretariat.

The forced sterilisation order

In the order issued by the Kamal Nath government, the government had targeted health workers for vasectomy of men. It stated if the employees of the department were not able to meet the target, their salaries would be deducted and they could also be forced to retire.

The Madhya Pradesh government issued this decree to Male Multi Purpose Health Employees (MPHWs) to increase men’s participation in the state’s family planning programme. The state government targeted health workers to perform sterilisation operations on five to 10 men every month.

According to the report of the National Family Health Survey 4, only 0.5% of men have undergone sterilisation in the state. The National Health Mission (NHM) of Madhya Pradesh asked the top district officials and chief medical and health officers (CHMO) to identify such male employees.

Officials were asked to apply the principle of ‘no work no pay’ to employees with ‘zero work output’ if they did not make an entry in at least one case in the period 2019-20, which ends next month. The NHM mission director issued the decree on 11 February.

Men-to-women ratio in sterilisation

The number of men who get sterilised in Madhya Pradesh has been decreasing in the last five years. In 2019-20, 3,397 men underwent sterilisation by 20 February 2020 as compared to 3,34,000 women. The state underwent 9,957 vasectomies in 2015-16 and in the following three years the number stood at 7,270, 3,719 and 2,925 respectively.

Vasectomy is the surgical procedure in which the vas deferens that carries sperms from the testicles through the penis is severed. Female sterilisation is called tubectomy because the fallopian tubes are blocked or severed so that egg is unable to travel from the ovaries to the uterus.

INC finds a Modi ghost even in this haunt

The Indian National Congress (INC) has found an excuse to blame the BJP government at the Centre even for this awkward act of its own dispensation! Party spokesperson Syed Jafar has said that population control is a national programme of the Modi government, which the National Health Mission of Madhya Pradesh has merely followed.

Health officials of all districts are given such yearly targets, Jafar said. Many a time, the officials do not meet this target on time and at the end of the year, there is a lot of pressure on them in February and March, he added.

The officials have asked the employees to meet the target and action will be taken against them for not doing so, Jafar said. He added that it was not the aim of the state government to sack an employee or deprive him of his salary.

Remembering Emergency

Kamal Nath and Jagdish Tytler with Sanjay Gandhi

This government order reminded many of the Emergency days under the rule of Indira Gandhi when, under the aegis of her son Sanjay Gandhi, thousands of people — including many who had yet to turn sexually active — were forcibly castrated so that the employees of the health department could meet their targets.

BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said it is now clear who, during the Emergency, was the guru of Kamal Nath. “Population control cannot be achieved by means of hooliganism,” Naqvi said.

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