India offers prizes for sterilisation

01 July 2011 - 11:43 By Sapa-AFP
A Tata Nano. File picture
A Tata Nano. File picture

A government in northern India is offering prizes including television sets, food processors and even a Tata Nano car for people who agree to undergo sterilisation, a doctor told AFP on Friday.

"We want to promote sterilisation," Pratap Singh Dutter, the deputy chief medical officer of Jhunjhunu district in the north Indian state of Rajasthan told AFP.

"Everyone who gets sterilised between today and 30 September will be entered into a lottery to win prizes."

The first prize is a Tata Nano, billed as the world's cheapest car at about $3,000, but other rewards up for grabs include motorcycles and 21-inch televisions, Dutter said.

"We felt we were falling behind on our sterilisation targets of 21,000 per year, so the district collector came up with this idea. We hope at least 6,000 people will come forward in the next three months to get sterilised," he said.

According to census data released in March this year, India is set to surpass China and become the world's most populous nation by 2030.

The country has a total fertility rate -- the number of children borne on average per woman -- of 2.588, according to 2010 figures issued by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which indicates a fast growing population.

The fertility rate has declined, however, since 1990 when it stood at 4.0, the UNFPA says.

The rewards-for-sterilisation programme in Rajasthan has echoes of controversial schemes tried in the late 1970s, blamed by many observers for turning Indians against family planning.

Sanjay Gandhi, the son of then prime minister Indira Gandhi, initiated a family planning programme in which men with two or more children were forced to undergo sterilisation surgery.

Dutter said no one in Jhunjhunu, which has a population of 2.1 million, up 11.8 percent over 10 years, had complained about the new scheme.

"We are not forcing anyone or taking advantage of them, we are just trying to encourage them to volunteer," he said.

X