Questions of Ethics: How Family Planning changed under Indira Gandhi's Emergency

  • Hannah Johnson University of Waterloo


India’s family planning policies and sterilization drives under Indira Gandhi during the Emergency period of 1975-1977 will be examined in the following article. Initially, an overview of the history of population issues in India including prior family planning initiatives is presented to provide context. The Emergency period is a complicated one in Indian history and intense family planning initiatives were merely one component. The family planning policies crafted during this period in particular are considered to be significantly more aggressive and questionable; this includes the methods that were used to put these policies into effect. It is shown that although family planning policies existed before the Emergency, they became much harsher and affected many more people during the period known as the Emergency.