Despite the fertility rate stabilizing in the country, the RSS-BJP lawmakers are determined to push for laws for population control. Opposition parties have criticized the ruling party’s moves in this regard saying its aimed at a specific community.
Sidharth Nath Singh, senior UP minister and government spokesperson, told ET that the state’s achievement in reducing its total fertility rate (TFR) from 2.7 to 2.4 was due to the government’s move to create more awareness about maternal and child health.
“We made contraceptives accessible to women. We have come up with a health policy and we are working on its agenda points, but with regard to population, we have seen resistance only in some communities centered on religious lines. Despite being a BJP government, we have reached out to maulvis and maulanas and some of them are helping us out in our outreach,” Singh said.
People with more than two children, according to the proposed law in Uttar Pradesh, will be barred from contesting local body polls, apply for government jobs or receiving any kind of subsidy; it also bars government employees from getting promotion.
Rakesh Sinha, BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP, had suggested in the proposed private member’s Bill that every serving government employee shall give an undertaking to not procreate more than two children. He also recommended rewards for those abiding by the two-child policy. “I have not changed my views one bit because I feel TFR is not contextually appropriate to India, unlike the west where TFR works more scientifically because a significant number of children are born before marriage there. We should go more by the total marital fertility rate (TMFR) that the census commission comes up with, and the latest findings of TMFR are not encouraging,” Sinha explained. He alleged that tools such as TFR are used by the West in developing countries to ensure cheap labor in the years to come.
The BJP MP highlighted demographic changes as a huge concern. “Ecological footprint is an important measure to understand if we are increasing the deficit of how much land, water and resources we use and what we are actually able to create. The declining TFR can be delusional as given the magnitude of population growth around us, even a marginal increase leads to crores of more people.” Sinha said he is glad to see that marriage rate has gone up among educated women and many are employed in MNCs.
However, experts believe that countries experiencing below-replacement fertility, basically lower than 2.1 children per woman, indicates that a generation is not producing enough children to replace itself, which might lead to a decline in population.