The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has yet again reiterated its suggestion for a population control policy, to face India’s demographic challenges in the next 50 years.
“The Sangh has already passed a proposal keeping an eye on the future of the nation in the next 50 years,” said RSS joint general secretary Dr Manmohan Vaidya, who is in Chhatisgarh’s capital Raipur with other top RSS leaders, discussing various social issues, including religious conversions and expanding the reach of the Hindutva organisation and its affiliates.
RSS, the ideological parent body of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been demanding a policy for population control for a long time. Earlier, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had expressed concern over ‘population imbalance’ in the country, and demanded that a clear policy should be made to control the demographics in the country.
Recently, the debate on population control erupted after Union Minister Prahlad Singh said that India will soon have a strong law on population control.
The Proposed Population Control Bill Of 2019
With the suggestion of a two-child policy, the population control bill has been introduced in the Parliament 35 times since independence. The latest bill was introduced in the Parliament by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha. The move came after the United Nations predicted that India will surpass China as the world’s most populous country, by 2030.
In the proposed population control bill of 2019, a couple cannot have more than two children. The bill states that families with more than two children will not be eligible to get government jobs, and other states incentives such as educational benefits, free healthcare, better employment opportunities, home loans, and tax cuts.
The bill, however, was withdrawn in April this year, after Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya categorically dismissed it stating that the government has successfully used and implemented health awareness among people to control the population in the country.
In July, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Bharati Pawar also said that the government is not contemplating any measures for population control in the country. She hopes that the government will achieve a stabilised population by 2045, under the National Population Policy, 2000, and the National Health Policy 2017.
BJP-ruled States Planning For Population Control Policy
Meanwhile, several BJP-ruled states are also planning to implement their own population control law.
Last year, in July, Uttar Pradesh became the first state in the country to release the draft of Population Policy 2021-2030. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that with this bill, the government’s main objective is to stabilise ‘population imbalance’, along with improving social welfare and development in the state.
The draft, which promotes the two-child practice, said that couples who have more than two children will be debarred from contesting local bodies’ polls, government jobs, and any kind of subsidy that comes under the state government.
The draft bill also states that couples with a single child will get free health facilities for their child till the age of 20, free education till graduation, and a preference for admission in all educational institutions including in IIMs and AIIMS. Parents of a single child, who fall under the Below Poverty Line (BPL), will also be paid Rs 80,000-1,00,000.
Earlier, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said that his government is also contemplating the implementation of a two-child policy-based population control policy in his state. He said that the government benefits including loan waiver will be provided in near future to those who will follow the state’s population control norms. Sarma also urged the state’s immigrant Muslim community to “adopt” the decent family planning as state has land and resources.
According to the Indian Express, the Uttarakhand government is also planning to introduce a population control bill in the state. The report said that the Pushkar Singh Dhami government is studying UP’s proposed population control bill for the same.
The report also claimed that the RSS, in their recent meeting in Dehradun, suggested that the Uttarakhand government must have its own population control policy, similar to Assam and Uttar Pradesh, to fight against “demographic imbalance” in the state.
The population control bill faces constitutional challenges as it violates the constitutional rights of citizens under Article 16 (equal opportunity in matters of public employment) and Article 21 (protection of life and liberty).
Citing the violation of constitutional rights, the Supreme Court, in 2018, rejected a petition asking the top court to implement a strict population control law across the country.
Article 22 of the 1969 Declaration on Social Progress and Development, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in a resolution, also ensures that couples have the right to choose freely and responsibly the number of children they will have.
Critics and policy-makers believe that women will be the biggest victims, irrespective of religion, if such laws come into force, and would be debarred from political participation.
It will also create issues in subsequent marriages since a divorced person who has two children with a prior partner will not be able to bear a child with their next spouse.