ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From Notebandi to Nasbandi

Mass sterilisation as the way to curb population growth is dangerous talk.

Giriraj Singh, union minister of state for micro, small and medium enterprises, has a tendency to shoot his mouth off. In the past, this member of Parliament from Bihar has asked critics of the Modi government to move to Pakistan. He also suggested that nine out of 10 beef eaters studied at an Indian Institute of Technology. His latest diatribe, however, goes beyond these nonsensical comments because it hints darkly at a possible future strategy that his government could adopt. On 5 December, the minister said in Patna that notebandi, as the withdrawal of high denomination notes is being called, should be followed by nasbandi, or sterilisation. The latter term was first used in 1976 when Sanjay Gandhi launched his mass sterilisation campaign during the Emergency especially targeting poor men. This campaign, ruthlessly executed in states like Uttar Pradesh, was considered to be one of the main reasons for Indira Gandhi’s defeat in the 1977 elections.

Singh is not the first to hint at this. A few weeks before him, Sanjay Paswan, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader from Bihar expressed similar sentiments as also the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat. Although the expressed concern of all these men is population growth that they argue holds back deve­lopment, they have made it abundantly clear that they are concerned only about the increase in the population of Muslims in India. In fact, both Singh and Bhagwat are on record asking Hindus to have more children and increase their numbers. Singh has demanded a law on population control and even suggested that the voting rights of those with more than two children should be revoked.

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