Need for Compulsory Sterilization Laws in India

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The endurance of living species on earth depends on its progeny. Generations sustain life on earth and human race is not different in following this natural law. Life of a person begins from his parents and Indian culture and tradition gives values for family relations particularly the bondage between parents and children. The duties of parents towards children and vice versa were mentioned even in religious texts that were observed by people from ancient time onwards. Children were considered as boon from almighty and in many families priorities were given for the needs of children. In the joint family system the number or strength of the children was not a serious concern. Gradually with deterioration of joint family system and the emergence of nuclear families created great changes in the number of children in a family. In pre independence era in India lack of education, religious beliefs, ignorance of birth control methods resulted in over population that created crisis in the economy of the country. Lack of food and shelter resulted in poverty and insecurity among people.

In the 1970’s the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi gave more concern to the issue of over population and measures were taken to prevent this scenario. Though family planning program was introduced in the year 1951, by the Government majority of Indians criticized the usage of contraceptive as it was opposed against major religious beliefs. Mrs. Gandhi introduced several Government schemes for birth control through proper usage of contraceptives and awareness programs in the control of over population. She even took stern decisions in Family Planning programs by making compulsory sterilization for married men who have two children. This was effectively done in the State of Maharashtra and Haryana through strict measures taken by the government through ordinances, where the basic amenities prevented from the couples having two children and who hadn’t undergone the compulsory sterilization program. In many parts of the country at that period protests were conducted against compulsory sterilization. Heavy criticism was put on this Government mission as compulsory sterilization was conducted on women than men though sterilization in men was simpler in men than women. Gender discrimination was indirectly done through this Government scheme as alleged by the critics. Another factor that made this program a failure was illiterate men other than married ones was also subject to this, as there were several attractive monetary benefits and incentives were given by the Government.

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The changes in the social and culture concepts gradually created awareness among people in controlling the overpopulation. The use of contraceptives by educated married women became an influential factor in birth control programs during the 1980’s and 1990’s. The fertility rate showed remarkable decline during these period till today. An estimated modern contraceptive usage by married women is up to 48% till 2009. The Family planning programs are initiated under the Ministry of health and Family welfare in India. In many remote parts in India family planning programs hadn’t achieved the desired results even today as a result of lack of proper education among people. Women in remote villages are bound by several restrictions imposed on them after marriage on the basis of social and cultural concepts. Uneducated and unemployed women are not capable of taking own decisions in birth control, as they are conditioned to act according to the decision of husbands in giving birth to children. In urban society employed married women to a greater extent have the decision making ability in family matters and majority of educated couple are aware about the importance of family planning. Though the family programs increased the usage of contraceptives that in turn controls population of the country, an estimated assessment on India‘s population rate shows that every 15 days, 1000,000 of population growth is shown. The voluntary sterilization programs were not effective as estimated by the Government policies, makes it an intense issue to be considered by every citizen. In this context compulsory sterilization program at the highly populated areas can be implemented after providing proper awareness of the consequence that might occur to the future generations if this compulsory birth control program is not implemented.

In the state of Haryana and Punjab an ordinance is passed which provides stringent punitive provisions against government employees who refuse to go for sterilization program who is having two children. Similarly a strong attempt is made by the Maharashtra government for compulsory sterilization of all men who is having three living children by approving a Bill for the said purpose. As per the provision those who don’t follow, will forcibly subject to sterilization under arrest. Like Maharashtra, Haryana and Punjab the rest of the states will also think about in making such stringent laws for controlling overpopulation. Many developed countries in the world adopted so many strong regulations and rules to regulate birth control and as a developing country we too should have to make a strong punitive population control measures in the form of a central legislation.

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The decline in the fertility rate shows progress in birth control programs but at the same time large number of married people are deprived of children who under goes several treatment in need of a child. Infertility clinics are mushrooming providing various treatments that to an extent helps couple to have a child is also a reality faced by many people in the midst of contraceptive usage and awareness programs for birth control is an irony of life.