Indian male health workers in Madhya Pradesh have been instructed to convince at least one man to opt for sterilisation or face losing their jobs. This order has been withdrawn after receiving a flurry of criticism.

The order initially came about because there were very few men who opted for vasectomy as a form of family planning. Thus, the burden of contraception is left to women since as it was erroneously thought that a vasectomy would hamper sexcual functioning or male virility.

Read the full article on The Guardian: India: male sterilisation order withdrawn after flurry of criticism


The order was intended to combat India’s population growth since overcrowding has led to problems in many Indian cities. The male sterilisation order was given since it was thought that family planning in India is neglected and is largely relegated to females.

Is sterilisation really the best way to go about combating the issues related to population growth? If the concern with the increase in population size is related to the climate, there are other green ways to mitigate the crisis, like cutting back carbon emissions. Or if the issue is related to traffic, the city could explore traffic management measures such as congestion charges, etc.

Fortunately, the order was withdrawn. However, if it were allowed to stand, would it have been legitimate for the state to order the health workers to sterilize a man or risk losing their jobs? Should they even have the power to order people to get sterilized given how personal the decision is? The retraction of the order recognises that it would have been an overstepping of political authority to execute the order.

Questions for further personal evaluation: 

  1. Do you think that the state should have the power to order its citizens to be sterilized to combat rapid population growth issues?
  2. If an authority figure (e.g., politician, principal, boss) asked you to do something contrary to your conscience, what would you do? If you would resist, how would you do so?

Useful vocabulary: 

  1. ‘mitigate’: make (something bad) less severe, serious, or painful
  2. ‘retract’: withdraw or go back on