April 12, 2007

Red faces at invasive questions

An embarrassed Indian Government bowed to pressure from across the country yesterday and withdrew an official form that required millions of female public servants to provide details of their menstrual cycles and date of their last pregnancy.

Normally, I'd have posted this to my column, "Del.icio.us Bytes", but in the light of my earlier remarks on India learning dystopian tricks of trade from China, this news merits a place in my main blog. I am glad that the government (both the state and the central governments, I presume) has withdrawn the offending performance appraisal form after widespread protests from the concerned officials. Yet, the fact that the original order was issued after having been vetted through the infinite rungs of the Indian bureaucratic ladder, raises doubts about the present government's commitment to privacy, freedom, and democracy.

  1. whaaaaaaat? and for what purpose I wonder!

  2. This would be a nice addition to Orwell's novel

  3. Your angle is privacy, but to most people in the Indian Media, this seems to be an issue of Gender-Specific Form only!

    The article says
    "both male and female bureaucrats will have to share similar details concerning their routine health check-up, comprising reports of blood sugar, lipid profile, liver and kidney function tests, ultrasound of abdomen, cardiac profile and others"

    But nobody seems to be protesting for that!

    Shouldn't health details be confidential between me & my doctor? Shouldn't a doctor's certificate suffice?

    But one reader of a newspaper writes in the Letters to the editor -
    " There is nothing wrong in giving the details."

    When such people vote, you know what kind of Govt. we can expect!

  4. Naren wrote:
    Shouldn't health details be confidential between me & my doctor? Shouldn't a doctor's certificate suffice?

    You are right, unless there is a contractual obligation to reveal the details, communicated to the prospective employee along with the job offer, I think. The candidate then would have the option to decline the job. The retracted order was a new one, and definitely invaded the privacy of the women employees.

    Btw, is there a constitutional right to information on the health of the public servants in India (MP's, ministers, included)?


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