Four decades ago, Emergency was declared in India. The two-year long suspension of civil rights and liberties was the only time independent India’ democracy has been interrupted, and the results were horribly tyrannical. The then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi cut down on liberties, jailed her opponents and started meddling with all sorts of industries. The most infamous move, though, the one that is still remembered by many today, was the mass sterilization program.

The PM’s son Sanjay Gandhi took charge of a population control program, and instead of allowing people to go willingly, began forcing impoverished people into camps where mass sterilization was taking place. The drive ended up killing more than two thousand men from botched operations. And those who survived the operations, were sent back without incentives which was earlier promised by the government.

The press note on these special camps said all that you needed to know: “In a special Camp held in September 1975 as many as 425 operations had been performed within a fortnight. This was considered a record. A second camp was organized in the same area from December 26, 1975. In a fortnight about 1000 operations were performed.”

Eventually the horror of these camps was remembered so well that it ended up in books and films. Salman Rushdie mentions the camps in his book, Midnight’s Children, while a satirical film called Nasbandi (vasectomy) from 1978, which would later be banned, sought to turn the events into a farce. The movie was banned immediately after release, and only later made legal again after Indira Gandhi left office. Here is one song from the film, with lyrics that go, “Oh government, why did you sterilize me? I wanted to get married and have children but you ruined it all by imposing the emergency.”

Source – Scroll



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