With a massively growing population, and no Chinese-style national one-child policy in place, sterilization campaigns in India’s provinces and municipalities are far from uncommon. But now, in the Rajasthani district of Jhunjhunu, officials in charge of sterilization campigns have found a new incentive to encourage Indians to undergo the procedure: the subcontinents growing obsession with automobiles. Britain’s The Independent was the first Western news outlet to report on the scheme, which offers those undergoing sterilization
a coupon for a forthcoming raffle, with prizes including a Tata Nano car, motorbikes and electric food blenders.
The prizes for the Jhunjhunu raffle were donated by a local university, and because compensation for sterilization is technically illegal in India, a Tata Motors spokesman tells the New York Times that
The Rajasthan initiative you are referring to — we are not sure whether it is a government or a private initiative – has got nothing to do with Tata Motors or its dealers. We have not been aware whether this is being shown as endorsed by the company.
Tata says it will “look into” the scheme, but with sales of “India’s Model T” flagging, even this questionable promotion might well be welcome. After all, many Rajasthanis seem to grasp the practical benefits of sterilization, but have a hard time finding the motivation to leave farms in order to receive the surgery. One woman, interviewed by The Independent, seemed to sum up the mood:
Ms Kumar explained how she had opted for the operation for purely practical reasons. But she admitted she was excited by the prospect of the raffle. She said: “If I am to win anything, I hope it is the car.”
In modern India, where booming sales of ultra-cheap cars conceal the reality that millions remain without mobility, it seems that the offer of even the cheapest car on the market is motivation enough to forgo having children.