‘Depleting resources’ shift RSS’s focus on changing demography

Bharatiya Janata Party politician and Rajya Sabha MP, Rakesh Sinha, says the private member’s bill he introduced last week, proposing that people with more than two living children be barred from contesting elections, isn’t targeted at any particular community, but seeks to address the need to control India’s burgeoning population and the pressure it puts on natural resources.

The Population Regulation Bill, 2019, will pave the way for incentivising those who limit their families to two children, Sinha said. “There is a strain on the country’s resources. Any multireligious, multiethnic and multiregional country requires balance as pressure on resources can lead to conflict,” Sinha said.

Claiming that the bill has support from members across party lines, Sinha said the proposed law does not seek to place restriction on democratic processes such as the voting rights of those who breach the two-child norm; its focus is on incentivising those who comply with it than penalising those who violate it, he said.

The bill calls for barring candidates who don’t conform to the two-child norm from contesting polls at all levels. “This Bill has a sunset clause; it will be implemented from one census cycle to another, allowing a review of its impact. If the government feels it has a negative impact, it can be tweaked or repealed,” Sinha said.

Sinha isn’t alone in calling for a two-child norm. Union minister, Giriraj Singh, made a similar suggestion, linking the rising population of India to religion.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, BJP’s ideological mentor, in 2015 passed a resolution at its Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal, demanding the government “reformulate the national population policy keeping in view the availability of resources in the country, future needs and the problem of demographic imbalance and apply it uniformly.”

There is no link between the bill and the resolution except that they address the same issues.

India’s changing demographics and imbalance in the total fertility rate (TFR, the average number of children a woman has in her lifetime) are issues that have been discussed at various levels in the Sangh over the years,senior RSS functionaries said on condition of anonymity. “There is a concern that in some pockets of the same state, such as in Kerala, the TFR is already below the replacement rate, but there are communities where family planning is yet to pick up. There is also imbalance in the population on account of conversion. The census figures too indicate this,” said a scholar, who works on demographic issues with a Sangh-linked organisation.

Asked whether the two-child norm will correct this imbalance, he said: “It may or may not work; what needs to be done intensively is social awareness about family planning measures.”

First Published:
Jul 20, 2019 02:42 IST

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