|Memo showing communication between LRB &
Prof. Samuel Paul on July 22, 1976
In the end, though, the Ministry, then headed by Prof. Nurul Hasan, refused to grant permission. In hindsight, its possible to see how political calculations probably came into play with Indira Gandhi facing the heat in the west after for the Emergency. However, at the time, the response was both unexpected and disappointing and the incident stayed in both Prof. Paul's and IIMA's institutional memory. In his memoirs, Prof. Paul has narrated the incident..
|excerpted from 'A Life and It's Lessons: Memoirs' by Samuel Paul
[Editor's note: The award, as described above, was actually from American Marketing Association and the presentation would have been at the AMA annual conference at Memphis. The Ford Foundation, NY had agreed to pay for the trip, and not Columbia.]
|excerpted from 'The IIM-A Story' by Praful Anubhai
In the larger scheme of things, however, this was a minor incident - it only resulted in LRB not being able to attend a conference and receive an award. But, the Emergency may have had a much deeper impact on his career. When he returned to India, LRB was likely very enthusiastic about continuing his widely appreciated research on the social marketing of family planning programmes. A few months ago, in a meeting with Profs. David and Fran Korten at Harvard, he had discussed his hopes of getting the attention of top-level policy makers in India and persuading them to make their programmes more marketing strategy-oriented and situate family planning communication within the value system of the people being targeted, an approach that he had pioneered during his PhD.
The notion of a marketing strategy, however, implies treating the citizen as a customer and advocates taking into account their wants, desires and value systems when communicating with them. During the Emergency, the population policy took a wholly different and nefarious turn. In April 1976, the same month that LRB arrived in India, the government approved a new population policy calling for new measures to 'encourage' family planning. It spoke of incentives, targets and the possibility of compulsory 'sterilisation'. Sanjay Gandhi, the prime minister's son, who had become an extra-constitutional authority during this period, was especially enthusiastic and made a big push to raise the number of sterilizations, if necessary by coercion. With civil liberties suspended, in just the 6 months between July and December 1976, the government recorded 6.25 million sterilizations (vasectomies and tubectomies), up from 2.7 million in previous 12 months. The widespread resentment towards the forced sterilizations is widely believed to have been a key factor in the wholesale rejection of Indira Gandhi and the Congress party in north India in the elections of the 1977.
In effect, the excesses of the Emergency destroyed India's family planning programmes. As Esther Duflo and Abhijeet Banerjee have argued in their recent book, Poor Economics, "Tainted by the Emergency, family planning policies in India retreated into the shadows and in the shadows they have remained - some states, such as Rajasthan, do continue to promote sterilization on a voluntary basis, but no one except the health bureaucracy seems to have any interest in it. In the meantime, however, generalized suspicions of the motivations of the state seems to be one of the most durable legacies of the Emergency; for example one still hears of people in slums and villages refusing polio drops because they believe it is a way of secretly sterilize children."
This legacy of suspicion may explain an abiding mystery - why did LRB not continue his award-winning family-planning work after his return to India? A reasonable hypothesis is that the environment for family-planning work in India became increasingly hostile after 1977. No government could afford to push family planning after the atrocities of the Emergency. LRB's expertise in the area remained unused as he turned to different subjects.
*This note was prepared by Apoorva Bhandari on the basis of the LRB papers, published books, and the testimony of witnesses.