As India’s population continues to grow and threatens to overtake that of China, a campaign started by a group called Taxpayers’ Association of Bharat wants every state in the country to execute a two-child policy so that the resources and taxpayers’ money can be utilised properly. But critics wonder if that’s the right path to tread….writes Rupesh Dutta
The two-year-old campaign, which now has over two lakh members — including celebrities such as Ajay Devgan, Suniel Shetty, Priyanka Chopra and Virendra Sehwag — has also written to all the chief ministers to come up with a population control policy on the lines of Assam.
Assam in April announced a draft population policy, which suggested denial of government jobs to people with more than two children and making education up to university level free for all girls.
According to the campaign, since independence citizens have been paying tax so that the country could be developed in a poverty-free and crime-free environment, but over the years, both the crime rate and poverty have only increased.
The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) — the number of children who would be born per woman during childbearing age — instead of decreasing, has gone up.
“Over the years, governments have done nothing to control the population, instead they did only caste-based politics. In 1961, the population below poverty line was 19 crore while in 2011 it rose to 36 crore. Why the increase? Is this why the citizens are paying tax for,” questioned Manu Gaur, National President of the campaign, also known as Taxab.
Stating that it was important for every state to have a two-child norm to make the country prosperous, Gaur said that with the continuity in same TFR, India’s population would hit 200 crore in the near future. “Are we ready for such a situation,” he asked.
For a stable population, a country needs a TFR of 2.1, whereas Indian states have a TFR as high as 3-3.2.
“It is quite evident that with such a TFR, India cannot grow. Today, every well-off nation has a TFR of 2.1 or below,” said Gaur, adding that in India government jobs and welfare schemes should always be for the families having two children.
According to the campaign, India has invested a considerable amount of resources in the name of family planning but no significant breakthrough has been made towards population control.
“Such policies cannot yield results. Until we educate the couple and let them realise that more children is indeed a problem, the problem can’t be solved. We have to make contraceptives available in the rural areas, whose absence is one of the biggest reasons for population growth,” Suneeta Mittal, Head of Gynaecology at Fortis Healthcare, said.
Mittal, formerly the Head of Gynaecology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, said that couples needed to be informed about other family planning methods, such as spacing and permanent contraceptives, instead of implementing the two-child policy.
Population Foundation of India (PFI), an NGO involved in various family planning policies of the country, in its recent letter to Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, also raised its reservations against its draft population policy.
“We sincerely request you not to go ahead with the two-child norm. China, where a one-child policy was state law for 35 years, till the country was forced to lift it in 2015. The country now finds itself in the midst of a population crisis,” said the PFI letter to Sarma.
According to PFI, it was observed that China’s dramatic post-1978 economic boom and the profound social changes unleashed by rising incomes and levels of education and rapid urbanisation would have driven down the birth rates even in the absence of a state birth planning campaigns.