India: Sterilisation in tribal-dominated districts
By DAULAT RAHMAN
Push for tribal birth control - Dispur plans job and cash rewards
Dispur is considering job and money incentives to draw the state’s tribal population to family planning schemes, which they have long resisted, fearing extinction.
The state trainer-cum- nodal officer for male and female sterilisation programmes, Ilias Ali, said the percentage of sterilisation in tribal-dominated districts was very low because of unfounded fears.
“The issue was even raised in the Assam Assembly by some tribal MLAs and they demanded that the family planning schemes must not be extended to tribal areas in the state. Initially, such demand put the health department in a fix. Finally, the department decided to adopt innovative schemes to motivate and convince the tribal communities about the necessity of having small families,” Ali said.
The indigenous communities, popularly known as “sons of the soil”, comprise over 15 per cent of the total population of Assam.
Ali said a huge public rally was held in Karbi Anglong district on November 1, highlighting the dangers of population explosion and the benefits of family planning programmes.
He said the meeting bore fruit and eight men underwent no-scalpel vasectomy sterilisation surgeries.
Such meetings will be held in all tribal areas once a week in the presence of eminent personalities from the communities.
“We will engage experts and scholars to convince the tribal populace in Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills about how population explosion will have an adverse impact on their ecology and bio-diversity. A huge chunk of forest resources in the twin hill districts has been destroyed by people only for their livelihood. Films will be screened on how more such destruction will take place if the population continues to rise,” the official said.
He said the health department has also tied up with the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council and Bodoland Territorial Council to stage drama and street plays and conduct seminars and counselling sessions in villages, colleges and schools to sensitise all age groups of the tribal population about the importance of family planning.
“The government has agreed in principle to provide job reservation and other monetary incentives for tribal families who adopt family planning methods,” he added.