Transcript of Anti -natal Policies in India
Anti-natal Policies in India
Why was an anti-natal policy introduced?
India's population is growing rapidly at a rate of 1.5% (2013) and has a current population of 1.24 billion which puts it just behind China in size of population.
When the Indian Government realised that in the future they may face water and food shortages, they decided something had to be done. If nothing was done, the country would've become overpopulated and unsustainable.
The Indian Government was forced to enforce some kind of population growth control to prevent a population catastrophe. The aim was to reduce the fertility rate from 3.3 to below 2.5.
The Indian Government set out on a campaign to try and educate people the benefits of having smaller families. Some campaigns even suggested parents should adopt rather have their own children which would decrease the number of newborn babies.
Money incentives are a key aspect to the family planning scheme in India. If a couple postponed the birth of their first child for 2 years after getting married, they would receive 5,000 rupees as part of a 'honeymoon package'.
Sterilisation was the favoured method of controlling the population by the Indian Government in the 20th century and in 1976, forced sterilisation was being carried out in poorer neighbourhoods. Many women would give birth and then be taken immediately for sterilisation.
There were also rewards for persuading
other colleagues in your workplace to
undergo a sterilisation operation. In the 1950s when sterilisation was the main method of controlling the population, workers were often given a television or a radio as an incentive to persuade others to get the operation.
Today in India sterilisation is not forced upon women by the government but in many ways, women are still forced into it as they have no other choice. Health officials visit women in poorer areas to persuade them the benefits of getting sterilised and offer money to undergo the operation which they desperately need in order to buy food for their children. Is this not forced sterilisation?
Today, India has carried out 37% of the world's female sterilisations.
Women wait for paid sterilisation in Mohan Lal Gautam District Women's Hospital in Aligarh, India.
The Indian National Population Policy 2000
The main aim of the reviewed policy in 2000
was to have reached a stable population by 2045
by lowering the fertility rate to 2.1 (replacement
level). This would sit India in stage 4 of the DTM.
It was to achieve this aim by improving the health infrastructure and increasing the awareness and use of contraception.
The idea of improving the healthcare and increasing the use of contraception was to decrease infant mortality rate which would lead to a decrease in fertility rate.
This was to be achieved trough incentives as before such as payment for couples who are sterilised after having two children. In addition education on the benefits of having smaller families was to start but this only lasted up to age 14 for girls.
The price of contraception was made affordable but not free. The price varies from region to region but for example in one area the contraceptive pill was lowered to 5 Rupees from 40 Rupees.
What are the Issues?
The main issue with India's method of controlling the population is the fact they don't respect women's rights. It is not as bad as it used to be but there are still some serious cases where women are treated horrifically.
47,87,653 sterilisations were carried out in 2011-2012.
46,08,044 of these were female sterilisation.
Just 1,79,609 were male sterilisation.
The UN's data shows that 48.3% of India's population are estimated to be using contraception. But 75% of that is female sterilisation.
Have the policies worked?
The fertility rate is now at 2.4 (2013 World Population Data Sheet)
The policy's potential is limited by India's inequality of men and women. The fertility rate has decreased but that still doesn't make the policy successful if it isn't morally right.
Kerala is a southern Indian state where the fertility rate has dropped to around 2. As well as free contraception, education and family planning, the state government here has tried to equalise men and women to lower the fertility rate.
Compared to the rest of India, Kerala has a lower infant mortality rate of 6.70 compared to 44.0 (2009)
Is this the model the rest of India should follow?
No government in India has successfully formulated policies to manage the country’s human population growth, which stands at 1.6% a year, down from a high of about 2.3% in the 1970s.
In that decade there were aggressive sterilisation campaigns, mainly targeting men, and these have stigmatised family planning ever since.
India is forecast to become the world’s most populous country in 2030, up from 1.25 billion today to nearly 1.5 billion.
Teaching poorly educated women in remote communities how to use pills or contraceptives is more expensive than the mass sterilisation campaigns, and despite successive years of economic growth, governments have systematically chosen the cheaper option.
India, therefore, has one of the world’s highest rates of female sterilisations, with about 37% of women having the operations, compared with 29% in China, according to the UN. About 4.6 million Indian women were sterilised in 2011 and 2012, according to the government.
Only a tiny fraction of men choose to have vasectomies. Male sterilisation is viewed as culturally unacceptable in India’s conservative society, experts say.
Incentives vary, however in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh – where 14 women have died recently and more 20 are in intensive care after surgery at two government-run sterilisation camps – women were supposed to get about 1,400 rupees (£14), for having the operation, equivalent to nearly two weeks wages for a manual labourer. That is a substantial sum in the very poor communities where the campaign is often focused.
Some incentives have been more generous. But health advocates worry that paying women is dangerous. “The payment is a form of coercion, especially when you are dealing with marginalised communities,” said Kerry McBroom, director of the Reproductive Rights Initiative, at the Human Rights Law Network, in New Delhi.
However, Pratap Singh, commissioner of Chhattisgarh’s department of health and family welfare, insisted the state’s sterilisation programme was voluntary.
One key question is whether quotas are being set, at national, state or district level. Local officials in Chhattisgarh say they were set a target by central government of 220,000 sterilisations a year, including 15,000 in Bilaspur, the district where the botched surgeries took place.
But health officials in Delhi said no such targets for sterilising women had been set since 1998. Both may be telling the truth. “The government of India denies that there are targets but it’s a matter of semantics. At a local level they simply call them expected levels of achievement,” Sona Sharma, joint director for advocacy at the Population Foundation of India, New Delhi, said this week.
Though large numbers of young people can be an economic advantage, a combination of unfulfilled aspirations, scarce land and water, overcrowding in growing cities, as well as inadequate infrastructure could lead to social tensions and political instability.
One further problem is a gender imbalance, arising from selective abortion of girls or their murder immediately after birth. In some communities there are fewer than eight women for every 10 men, with the ratio skewed even further among younger people.
Experts point out that the population control strategy is linked to a series of other problems relating to discrimination against women and marginalised communities. In Indian states where female literacy is higher the fertility rates are lower.