While the efficacy of vasectomy - or nasbandi, as it is popularly called - in family planning across India is still debatable, there is little doubt that the population control measure is a political tool that has been used time and again. The term still evokes harrowing memories of the Emergency for many.
Now, the note ban has brought nasbandi back into focus with a spike in a number of people turning toward this sterilisation technique in Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur.
Earning much-needed cash
The Poorva Post, a Delhi-based weekly magazine focusing on the Eastern UP, recently released a video highlighting this trend. The publication claims labourers rendered unemployed after the 8 November demonetisation move are opting for nasbandi in large numbers to earn some cash.
The Poorva Post report cites sources from a private clinic in Gorakhpur to state that labourers are coming in large numbers to undergo vasectomy operation. These are the same people who were earlier hard to convince to adopt family planning measures under the National Health Mission (NHM).
According to Poorva Post, over 38 daily wage labourers have undergone vasectomy operations in this Gorakhpur clinic alone since 8 November.
A team leader working in the clinic has confirmed that the number of nasbandi cases has sharply risen after demonetisation. Since the cash crunch has left many labourers with no source of income, they are left with no other option but to sterilise themselves for easy money.
It is worth noting that the government pays Rs 2,000 to each person coming to a government hospital for nasbandi in UP. The incentive for such an operation in any private health institute is Rs 1,000. Presumably, the lure of this money is attracting the poor towards sterilisation after the note ban.
The analysts believe the number of nasbandi cases in other government and private health centres of Gorakhpur district could be much higher.
A similar story elsewhere
It appears the trend is not restricted to Gorakhpur. The story of Aligarh's Puran Sharma (35) has attracted media attention during the past three days. Desperate for cash, Sharma got himself sterilised, but his handicapped wife could not get it done. The payment for the female contraception operation is only Rs 1,400.
Puran says that a local social health activist (ASHA) told him he could get some cash by doing nasbandi. He is the sole breadwinner of his family, but has been jobless for the past three weeks.
Puran admitted before the media that he was driven by the hope of getting Rs 2000, and not any awareness drive. He was left with no money to feed his family.
A sharp rise
Seemingly, Puran is not the only one to take this drastic step. Various media reports suggest districts like Aligarh and Agra have witnessed a sharp increase in nasbandi operations this month. This clearly means people from East to West parts of UP are seeking refuge from demonetisation woes in sterilisation.
A report published in The Times of India claims the number of vasectomy operations in November has almost doubled, rising from 92 during the same period last year to 176 now. And, the count is still rising.
The situation is same in Agra where a record 913 people have undergone sterilisation this November as against 450 during the same month last year.
The figures disclosed by Agra's family planning department pegs the total number of sterilisation cases in the district during the year at 2,272. Out of these, a staggering 913 people came for such operations in November alone. The numbers go up slightly during winter as people believe that the risk of infection post surgery is lower.
The annexure-2 of the 2014-15 report by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare on sterilisation records a total of 9,798 vasectomy operations across UP. This comes to an average of nearly 131 such cases in each of the 75 districts of the state. In other words, roughly one nasbandi operation was carried out every three days in each district of UP during the past year. The data recorded after 8 November is nearly six times the figure.
Edited by Aleesha Matharu