What has sterilisation got to do with teaching, you might ask—except, perhaps, that both involve children. And over 6,400 teachers in nearly 2,000 government primary schools of Allahabad district are asking the same question ever since each was told to bring in at least two new cases of sterilisation before March 31 or face the music.
District Magistrate Amrit Abhijat has fixed this deadline for the teachers. On a sterilisation spree in the district, Abhijat has also instructed Class III employees of the Medical and Health Departments to bring 10 sterilisation cases each or face suspension, as well as set targets for newly elected village heads. Many of the panchayat leaders have even started delivering results, using their influence in the area.
The government school teachers, who are anyway summoned for duty every time a census or election is held, are shocked at this addition to their extended duties.
“We are treated like bonded labourers. The government always engages us in any job it fancies and now the DM has directed us to persuade two each for sterilisation. Are we supposed to teach students or ask them to bring their parents to medical camps for sterilisation? It is shameful but who is going to listen to us?’’ says Ravi Prasad Chaurasia, a primary school teacher in the district.
DM Abhijat admits he has fixed targets for every employee, adding that it was necessary to make the family planning programme a success. He also admits that he puts family planning above everything else, including the KANDYA Vidyadhan Yojana, as “the root cause of all evils is population explosion. We have to take up this challenge on priority basis.” The fact that local community centres are not equipped to handle the numbers that might stream in for sterilisation if Abhijat’s targets are met is, of course, another story.
For example, the Koraon tehsil in Allahabad district. At least 50 village heads of the tehsil managed to persuade 25 or more women of their respective villages for sterilisation. But such was the chaos at the local community centre that while as many as 2,000 women were registered for sterilisation, only 700 could be operated on because of paucity of doctors.
‘‘The Medical and Health Departments cannot persuade even a single woman but I alone led at least 90 women to the local centre for sterilisation. But there was a dearth of doctors,’’ says Ramashanker Pandey, head of Pathartaal village. Pandey, at least, is off the hook, having got a pat on the back from the District Magistrate for his efforts.
DM Abhijat’s inspiration apparently is the District Innnovations in Family Planning Services Project Agency (DIFPSA). DIFPSA is the district unit of a state-wide project in this regard.
In 1992, when this project was conceived, the population of Uttar Pradesh was 140 million, making it the highest in India and higher than all but five countries in the world. Uttar Pradesh also had one of the poorest demographic social and economic profiles in India. The thinking was that if access to family planning services could be greatly increased in UP, and if couples accepted and used contraception on a broad scale, the efforts would pay off.
“But those who had initiated the project didn’t want sterilisation to be coercive, reminding us of the Emergency. The DM is doing just that,” says an annoyed teacher.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines