The recent deaths of at least 15 women at a sterilisation camp in Bilaspur district, Chhattisgarh, once again highlight India's horrifying approach to family planning. While Harsh Vardhan no longer holds the health portfolio, it would remain a cause for grave concern if the government's approach is in line with the statements he made during his time in office.
IN JUNE THIS YEAR, less than a month after taking office, the union health minister Harsh Vardhan declared in an interview to the Deccan Chronicle that “population stabilisation” was high on his agenda. In another interview around two months later to the same paper, Vardhan elaborated on his plans: he intends to revive a controversial draft bill from 1992, which would disqualify anyone with more than two children from membership to parliament or legislative assemblies.
Vardhan’s statements received little attention, and were not discussed in the media. But the government’s moves will merit scrutiny, since the statements suggest that the health minister is ignorant of the globally established fact that coercive population-control measures not only violate human rights but are simply not effective in curbing population growth.
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