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Compulsory Sterilization Architect Honored by Loyola Marymount Univ.

Dr. Karan Singh of India, who approved compulsory sterilization in India in the 1970s, was honored earlier this summer at Loyola Marymount University in California, according to a release from the Jesuit university.

Dr. Singh not only has advocated aggressive birth control policies but, according to the book Birth and Birthgivers: The Power Behind the Shame, he made compulsory sterilization legal in India.

Singh was awarded The Doshi Family Bridgebuilder Award, which comes with a $10,000 stipend, for his work at interreligious dialogue, and keynoted a two-day conference at the University. According to LMU, the award is sponsored by the Navin and Pratima Doshi Professorship of Indic and Comparative Theology, which is held by LMU Theology Professor Christopher Key Chapple.

“Dr. Singh is on the steering committee of Project Tiger, one of the world’s great ecological restoration success stories,” said Chapple in the release. “He also has been an active board member of the Temple of Enlightenment in New York City and the Parliament of the World’s Religions, first founded in 1893. These organizations have advanced the cause of world peace through interfaith dialogue.”

What Chapple didn’t reveal is Singh’s radical take on population control, which shockingly included monetary inducements to sterilization as well as the legalization of compulsory sterilization.

Under Dr. Singh, the first monetary incentives were introduced for undergoing vasectomy and tubectomy. In April 1976, as Minister of Health and Family Planning, he announced the National Population Policy of India.

He said:

Experience over the last 20 years has shown that monetary compensation does have a significant impact upon the acceptance of family planning, particularly among the poorer sections of society. In view of the desirability of limiting the family size to two or three it has been decided that monetary compensation for sterilization (both male and female) will be raised to Rs.150 if performed with two living children or less,

And then he took it a step further, allowing for compulsory sterilization.

The question of compulsory sterilization has been the subject of lively public debate over the last few months. It is clear that public opinion is now ready to accept much more stringent measures for family planning than before. However, the administrative and medical infrastructure in many parts of the country is still not adequate to cope with the vast implications of nation-wide compulsory sterilization. We do not, therefore, intend to bring in Central legislation for this purpose, at least for the time being Some States fee that the facilities available with them are adequate to meet the requirements of compulsory sterilization. We are of the view that where a State legislature, in the exercise of its own powers, decides that the time is ripe and it is necessary to pass legislation, for compulsory sterilization, it may do so, Our advice to the States in such cases will be to bring in the limitation after three children, and to make it uniformly applicable to all Indian citizens resident in that State without distinction of caste, creed or community.

Responding to an email from The Cardinal Newman Society, Dr. Chapple writes that he was not aware of Singh’s role in sterilization: “Thank you for alerting me to this.  No, I was not aware of his role in what all recognize now to have been a terribly mistaken (and failed) policy under the government of Indira Gandhi almost forty years ago. If I meet with him in the future, I will ask him about this.”

Although Chapple states that this policy was implemented 40 years ago and that “all” recognize that it was terribly mistaken, Singh himself was still publicly defending his plan in the early 1990s. In a piece called “Population:The Forgotten Factor,” Singh called his National Population Policy “the most comprehensive, enlightened and far-sighted policy ever to be adopted by any nation.” That piece is still displayed at under the banner Public Service.

Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.


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