BJP-RSS pushes for population policy despite declining fertility rate

The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS) released on Wednesday by the Union’s Health Ministry shows the country’s fertility rate, at 1.6% in urban areas and 2.1% in rural India is stabilizing, but this finding is unlikely to reduce the pressure for laws. for the control of the population by the RSS and in particular by the legislators of the BJP.

Over the past year, as clamor for a population control bill has been observed in several states, Karnataka, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Assam and Uttar Pradesh are preparing a law to control the population through rewards and penalties.

UP Chief Minister and government spokesman Sidharth Nath Singh told ET that the state’s success in reducing its Total Fertility Index (TFR) from 2.7 to 2.4 was entirely due the government’s decision to increase awareness of maternal and child health. “We made contraceptives accessible to women. We have developed a health policy and we are working on its agenda items, but when it comes to the population, we have only seen resistance in some communities centered on religious lines. Although it is a BJP government, we have contacted maulvis and maulanas and some of them are helping us in our outreach work, ”he said.

The law proposed in UP states that people with more than two children will not be able to participate in surveys of local organizations, apply for government jobs or receive any type of subsidy. It also prohibits government employees from getting promotion. “The government will take notice of the law commission’s bill,” Singh said.

Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha of the BJP who had proposed a private member’s bill suggesting that every sitting government employee pledges not to “procreate more than two children” and also recommended rewards for those who respect the two-child policy, said he was still very supportive of a population control law. “I haven’t changed my mind at all because I think the TFR is not contextually appropriate in India, unlike the west where the TFR works in a more scientific way because a significant number of children are born before marriage there. We should rely more on the total fertility rate (TMFR) proposed by the census commission, and the latest findings of the TMFR are not encouraging, “he said, alleging that tools such as the TFR are “used by the West in developing countries to ensure cheap labor for years to come”.

He said demographic changes were a major concern, as many have a much higher number of children than others. “The ecological footprint is an important metric in understanding whether we are increasing the deficit in how much land, water and resources we use and what we are actually able to create. The decline in the TFR can be misleading given the scale of the population growth around us, even a marginal increase leads to millions more people. I am happy to see the data showing that the marriage rate has increased among educated women and that many are employed in multinational companies, but how many want to have more than one child? ”

BJP MP Jharkhand Nishikant Dubey, who was also among the prominent voices in favor of a population law, said “data often does not reflect all aspects of reality.” “I can see around me what’s going on and the population is growing … States like West Bengal have seen a high level of infiltration from Bangladesh. Some states, especially in the South, have responded well to the population explosion problem, and others are taking action … why should they be penalized for those who haven’t. ”

Experts said countries with below replacement fertility, fundamentally less than 2.1 children per woman, indicate that a generation is not producing enough children to replace itself, which could lead to a decline in fertility. population.

The five states with TFR above 2 are Bihar (3), Meghalaya (2.9), Uttar Pradesh (2.4), Jharkhand (2.3) and Manipur (2.2 ), and the Department of Health has already announced that a district-specific approach will be launched in these states. Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan reported TFR at the same level as the national average of 2, while West Bengal reported 1.6. Six states – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Tripura – had an TFR of 1.7. Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha reported 1.8, while for Haryana, Assam, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Mizoram, the ISF was 1.9.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has specifically referred to the “population explosion” in several of his important speeches over the past two years. “We should review population policy. Ours is a country of young people and 56 to 57% of young people who will age. How many people can we feed? A population policy should be developed with the next 50 years in mind, and it should be applicable to all equally, ”Bhagwat said in his annual address to Vijayadashami.

RSS insiders say the organization’s demand for a national population control law will only intensify as it alleges Muslims continue to have more children than the national average. “Our biggest worry is demographic change. More and more educated Hindu women have only one child or none at all. It is a worry,” said a senior official.

It was not only BJP lawmakers who called for population regulation laws, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi also proposed a bill enforcing the two-child rule, claiming that rapid population growth has resulted in increased pressure on the country’s limited natural resources.

Delhi-based public health activist Sana Sheikh told ET that there was no evidence of organized resistance to family planning among Muslims, and that the community was quickly adopting family planning, citing latest data from the US-based Pew Research Center which showed that the gaps in fertility rates between the two largest religious groups were declining and, while Muslim women had an average of 1.1 more children than Hindu women in 1992, the gap narrowed to 0.5 in 2015.

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