Mass sterilization programs took place in the 1970s under Indira Gandhi's government during the Emergency.
The Congress party has opposed the population control bill introduced by the Uttar Pradesh government this month (July 2021). However, in response, a number of social media users accused the Congress party of hypocrisy, highlighting that forced sterilization had taken place while they were in power.
During the period known as "the Emergency", between 1975 to 1977, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi allocated quotas for sterilization to chief ministers in every state. The Association for Asian Studies notes that in Uttar Pradesh, vasectomy camps performed 331 operations per day initially, which then rose to 1,578 per day and later to 5,664 operations per day. During this period, 6.2 million men were thought to have been sterilized in just one year.
The program was endorsed by the World Bank, The Swedish International Development Authority, and the U.N population fund, which reportedly supplied tens of millions of dollars in loans.
In January 1977, Prime Minister Gandhi lifted the Emergency and announced elections. Voters chose the Janata Party (a coalition of her former opponents) and threw Indira Gandhi out of power. While several factors led to the party's defeat, the aggressiveness of Gandhi's family planning programs was thought to have contributed to her loss. Major parties were consequently reluctant to broach the topic of sterilizations for several decades.
On Population Day, July 11, chief minister Yogi Adityanath unveiled the Uttar Pradesh Population Policy 2021-2030. According to a draft of the bill, families with more than two children would be banned from applying for government jobs, running in elections, or receiving subsidies, The Times of India reports. Congress leader Salman Khurshid told the press, “Before making the law government should tell how many legitimate and illegitimate children its ministers have.”
“Politicians should declared how many children they have. I will also declare how many I have and then it should be discussed."
In March 2021, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that he acknowledged that the Emergency was "a mistake".