It was launched last week by the Tamil Nadu state government at a state-run clinic in its capital Chennai, with priority given to the poorest women there. Authorities have promised to soon expand the free service to other districts of the state.
According to data from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, about 33,000 breast augmentation surgeries were carried out in India in 2016. At private hospitals, a procedure costs 2,300 to 3,800 U.S. dollars, which is almost a year’s wage for most Indians.
The state’s health minister, Vijayabaskar, said the scheme aims to stop people opting for dangerous methods of breast reconstruction or taking out huge loans for it. “If a poor woman desires to look beautiful, we will support her financially,” he told AFP.
According to the clinic, some of its patients seek breast reduction to alleviate shoulder and back pain, while some want to augment or shrink their breasts for aesthetic reasons. Tamil Nadu is known for its populist schemes, which have previously included free food canteens and providing wedding jewelry and venues to the poor.