Population explosion is a matter of concern for the development of the nation. So, discussion on population control is natural among cautious citizens. On World Population Day, Union minister Giriraj Singh linked the rising population of the country with religion. He said that there should be a rule of having only two children per family in the country for every religion and those who violate it should be debarred from the right to vote. Giriraj Singh tweeted, “In India, population explosion is disturbing the balance of economy, social harmony and resources. One of the reasons (for failure to check it) is dharmik vyavadhan (religious obstacle).”
It is notable that China and India are the two most populous countries of the world. In China, population control was taken as a national issue and it has been successful because their intention was clear. But in India, this important issue has taken an ugly form of dispute due to hidden plans. The Union Minister Giriraj Singh targeted a religious group and politicised the issue for vested gains. The same issue of population control has been treated in different ways in China and India. On account of religious division, India could not take concrete steps and make rules for it so far. It seems that “Two children Policy” will have the same fate as that of “Triple Talaq”. The Modi government will never get the support of the opposition parties even on “Two children Policy”.
The dispute over two children per family
The Union minister, without naming any community, said that the rising population was posing threats to resources and harmony. He said that it is ruining the economy. Singh’s tweet in Hindi said, “Population explosion in India is disturbing social harmony and balance. Religious interference is also a reason related to population control. Like in 1947, India is heading towards division on the basis of culture. Every political party should come forward to make laws regarding population control.” He asked all parties to consider over the issue seriously. He said, “A strict law should be made to control the population. There is a need to raise the issue in Parliament.” Three years ago, Giriraj Singh had demanded laws for sterilization in the country. The firebrand BJP leader has always been in the news for the wrong reasons. During the parliamentary elections, he had demanded a ban on green flags. He said, green tends to create hatred in society and gives one a feeling of being in Pakistan.
If that was not enough, he triggered another row during the Lok Sabha polls when during an election meeting he said, “Muslims will have to say Vande Mataram if they need three yards of land for a graveyard.” A comment that had angered key ally JD(U) which in turn asked the Election Commission (EC) to take cognizance of his comments.
Giriraj Singh has been known for his controversial remarks in the past too. Only last year, he had embarrassed the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in Bihar, when he demanded to rename Bakhtiarpur town, where Nitish Kumar was born. The minister also wanted the name of Akbarpur in his current Lok Sabha constituency of Nawada changed, saying it was named after Mughal emperor Akbar.
JD (U) MLA, Lallan Paswan comes in support
Giriraj Singh’s latest comments on population found support from NDA MLAs in Bihar. “For the sake of the country, we need to control the population, irrespective of religion. If not controlled today, it is bound to create food and water scarcity in the country,” said JD (U) MLA, Lallan Paswan. BJP’s MLA Sachindra Kumar, too, supported the Union Minister’s demand for population control.
The opposition, however, criticised the demand. “This shows the narrow-mindedness of the Union Minister,” said RJD’s MLA, Bhola Yadav. Congress MLC Premchandra Mishra wondered how one can seize anybody’s voting rights.
The success of one child per family policy in China
According to the United Nations’ “The World Population Prospects 2019” report, India’s population will surpass that of China by 2027. China is currently the world’s most populous country, with India at the second spot. The 2011 census had put India’s population at 1.21 billion. The next census will be carried out in 2021. China has a population of 1.42 billion, according to 2017 figures from the United Nations. The country had feared that population growth was hindering economic development. Therefore, in 1979, the Chinese government implemented a one child per family policy. It also implemented birth control programs and offered economic incentives to families with fewer children. In 2016, China abolished its decades-long one-child policy to combat an aging society and shrinking workforce. Married couples can now have two children and no longer have to apply for a family planning service certificate.
The method of implementation of One Child Policy
The one-child policy requires married couples to apply for a family planning service certificate once they learned of a pregnancy. Applying for this government-issued birth permit was complex and required navigating a maze of bureaucracy, including obtaining official stamps from a minimum of 16 different entities. The requirements involved so many steps that some couples feigned unemployment to alleviate at least one of the steps.
The Chinese government subjected the applicant mother and father to intense scrutiny, including posting their names and home address on a public bulletin board. Along with this information, they posted the mother’s identification number. This identification number is how the Chinese government keeps track of the wombs in China. They also listed the last known method of contraception the couple utilized. If parents did not acquire the certificate before the child was born, the hospital would not issue a birth certificate so there would be no legal record of the child’s birth.
Contraception and Peer Pressure
The Chinese government sees reproduction as a privilege that is granted by the state. According to officials, once a couple has been granted the right to have a child, they then have a duty to make use of contraception to prevent further pregnancies. Because China’s society has deeply ingrained patriarchal customs, the responsibility for contraception falls primarily to the woman.
Officials typically allowed certain types of contraception, namely intrauterine devices (IUDs) and tubal ligation. These methods are easily verified, lasting and offer bureaucratic convenience. Regulations encouraged women with one child to use IUDs, and those with two children to undergo tubal ligation. In many instances, a woman needed to have an IUD inserted to register a second child with the local public security bureau, which is essential for the child to have access to health care and public education.
Punishment for those who have two or more children
In certain locations, family planning officials, essentially agents of the government, used a type of neighbourhood crime watch structure that encouraged neighbors to spy on one another and report any children who may be unregistered. In some instances, those reporting suspicions were monetarily rewarded.
Local family planning authorities also imposed peer pressure from coworkers. Authorities placed a collective responsibility on the work unit of a couple at a government-affiliated place of employment. If a member of the unit had more than the government-allowed number of children, then every employee working in that unit was denied an annual bonus, a form of government-sanctioned blackmail.
It is unclear how China’s relaxation of its one-child policy will affect birth rates. The birth rate in China in 2017 was 1.62 births per woman, according to the United Nations Population Division. The birth rates are similar for other industrialized nations. Because China’s economy is becoming more Westernised, it’s unlikely that the Chinese birth rate will rise significantly.