The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has raised objections to Uttar Pradesh draft population control bill, saying that it can “lead to furthering the imbalance between different communities”, reported The Hindu on Monday.
Last week, the Uttar Pradesh Law Commission had released a draft of the proposed legislation. The Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilisation and Welfare) Bill, 2021, promotes a two-child policy. The draft bill said that those violating the proposed legislation would be barred from contesting local body elections, applying for government jobs and getting subsidies under government welfare schemes.
The new legislation, when passed, would also attempt to bring down the state’s gross fertility rate from the existing 2.7 to 2.1 by 2026. On July 11, Chief Minister Adityanath had said that “attempts would be made to ensure there is a population balance among various communities”.
In a letter to Uttar Pradesh Law Commission, VHP’s Acting President Alok Kumar said the reason behind the imbalance was because Hindu and Muslim communities respond differently to incentives and disincentives on family planning and contraception.
Kumar referred to Assam and Kerala as examples. He said that the total fertility rate of Hindus in the states was far below the replacement rate (total fertility rate at which women give birth to enough babies to sustain population levels) of 2.1. The VHP chief said that the total fertility rate for Muslims was 3.16 in Assam and 2.33 in Kerala. “In these states, one of the communities has thus entered the contraction phase while the other is still expanding,” the letter said.
The VHP chief also cited China’s relaxation of population control norms to push his point. In May, China had allowed couples to have up to three children. Before this, China had a one-child policy, which had been imposed in the late 1970s to control a population explosion. It was scrapped in 2016 to allow couples to have two children. However, experts believed that the two-child policy did not have the effect needed to counter the ageing problem.
In his letter, Kumar said that some sections of the draft bill, which gives incentives to public servants and others for following the policy, go beyond the objective of the proposed legislation.
“In a contracting population, the ratio between the working age and the dependent population gets disrupted,” the VHP chief said. “In an extreme case, the one-child policy would lead to a situation where there is only one working age adult to look after two parents and four grandparents. In China, which adopted the one-child policy in 1980, it was called the 1-2-4 phenomenon. To get over it, China had to relax its one-child policy.”
Education necessary to check population explosion: Bihar CM
Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said that the laws alone will not help control the population explosion and that education was necessary to address the problem, reported the Hindustan Times.
“It was found after a lot of research work that the rate of reproduction comes down effectively if women are educated,” he said. “Bihar has experimented with it by promoting education among the girls and achieved success. If it continued, the state would have negative growth of population after 2040.”
Speaking about the success of educating girls to control the population, Kumar also took a swipe at former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav for having more than three children. “But the overall impact of girls’ education yielded good results in the state,” he added.
Bill meant to divert attention, says Opposition
The Opposition parties also criticised the Adityanath government’s draft bill. Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Ram Govind Chowdury alleged the state government was bringing in the bill to divert attention from law and order problems, reported PTI.
“If someone has two daughters, will he not go for the third in the hope that it will be a son,” he said. “There is a population control law already.”
Congress leader Salman Khurshid asked the Uttar Pradesh government to tell how many “legitimate and illegitimate children” its ministers have before bringing in the law. “Politicians should declare how many children they have,” he said. “I will also declare how many I have and then it should be discussed.”
Samajwadi Party MP Shaqfiqur Rahman Barq described the bill as “election propaganda”. “They [the Bharatiya Janata Party] look at everything from a political angle,” he said. “They just want to win elections and don’t take any decision in the interest of the people. Since the assembly election is coming, they are concerned about it. By the grace of Allah, we will not let them win.”