Confessions of a Population Control Committee Member

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“Condom is such a dirty word. How could we have discussed it with strangers [in this defunct committee of wives of ministers]?”

I was made a part of the Population Control Committee of the Maharashtra government without my knowledge because my husband was a minister. The committee was to decide on policies pertaining to population control and someone decided that the wives of ministers would be in it. 

This committee was to be headed by Vaishali Deshmukh, wife of Vilasrao Deshmukh, who was the Chief Minister when this idea came into being. None of us was keen on being in it, so we all stayed away. Some bureaucrat kept calling me to attend a meeting, but with not even Mrs Deshmukh interested, naturally not a single meeting has ever been held. 

Many of our husbands could never see eye to eye, so how could they expect us to be friendly? We were just decorative pieces on the committee. Also, wives of many ministers are from the rural belt and have no exposure to decision making. Some understood the issue but were not keen on attending. 

I am friends with three or four others who are a part of this defunct committee. Even between ourselves, it is difficult for us to say words like condom and sex. Condom is such a dirty word. How could we have discussed it with strangers? 

Our husbands were amused and ridiculed the idea. The committee would have disbanded even before it started, but information about it was leaked to the press. Once it came in the newspapers, the government had no other option but to ensure that the committee continued.

My husband used to keep telling me that the committee was a mistake. I think the committee is still there, but no one really cares. Two or three times, some reporter called me up for a comment on an issue related to population. All I could say was “No comment”. I had nothing to say about it. 

(She is a member of this committee of the Maharashtra government)

As told to Haima Deshpande