Assam Govt’s Two Child Policy To Impact Lifestyle Across The State
China’s infamous “one child per family” law to try and bring its population growth under check has led to a shortage of young people in the country.
‘Hum Do Hamare Do’- the two-child theory to control the burgeoning Indian population has been doing the rounds for nearly three decades with the infamous sterilization drive by Sanjay Gandhi - son of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during emergency - when civil liberties were suspended.
Adding a new tale to this journey is Assam government’s two child policy of reserving government jobs for those who adhere to the policy.
The Assam cabinet recently decided to reserve government jobs in the state for those who adhere to the two-child policy — a part of the state’s new population policy which will bar couples from having more than two children.
As expected, minority organizations including the front man of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), Badruddin Ajmal, reacted strongly to the government’s decision terming it as a move to deprive Muslims of the state who usually bear more than two children.
Defying the government’s decision Ajmal openly gave a call to Muslims to bear as many children they can as Islam doesn’t believe in the two child concept theory.
It’s an undeniable fact that with its 1.21 billion population which is just next to China, India is staring at a population explosion and is expected to be the number one in the population index by 2045. As resources get scarce the only available option left with the government is to adopt ways and means to check rapid population growth.
However, a repeated government effort in India to put a check on the population meter has not tasted success as was desired.
The famous line `Hum Do, Hamare Do’ which echoed in Indian households when television made its entry in mid-eighties in the middle class rooms had some effect but it was limited only to urban areas.
India lives in villages and that area, despite efforts by the government, remained more or less insulated from the population control measures of the successive governments.
In contrast, population control measures in many other countries like China met with immediate success so much so that many countries which put into effect strict population control laws had to reverse their decisions which led to shortage of younger people in the country.
India’s arch rival China had the infamous “one child per family” law to try and bring its population growth under check. The policy, under which families were fined if they had more than one child, has led to a shortage of young people in the country.
China relaxed this policy in October 2015 and allowed for two children per couple — but the fertility rate (a measure of how many children a woman bears over her lifetime) only managed to reach a dismal 1.6 children per woman in 2017. The current government is now considering relaxing the policy even further.
Whereas, India’s long time friend Russia has vowed to spend 8.6 billion dollars on programs to encourage Russians to have more babies. According to a UN report released in May 2018, Russia’s population will shrink by 11 million by 2050. In January 2018, the country’s birth rate hit the lowest mark with just 1.69 million babies recorded to be born in 2017. President Vladimir Putin, in his election campaign, had vowed to spend $8.6 billion on programs to encourage Russians to have more babies.
While the most developed country in the world, the United States of America, has been a known supporter of the Program of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, which endorses choice of the number and timing of children, gender equality and family planning based on individual preferences. The government doesn’t officially endorse population control or stabilization and rather promotes better healthcare alternatives for women and the freedom to exercise their reproductive rights.
With a continuous decline in birth rates, Japan became the oldest large country in the world by median age in 2015 and, as of June 2018, more than half of its population is above the age of 46. Authorities have begun a series of measures such as the Angel Plan (1994), the New Angel Plan (1999) and the Plus One Policy (2009) to assist and encourage young couples to have children.
Notably, India is now counted among the list of developed countries but the story of population control doesn’t seem to have gone down well as the birth rates had fallen in all these countries which shutter the growth of young populace.
India launched its family planning programme in 1951 as part of the first Five-Year Plan, and became the first country in the world to have a state-sponsored population program. Then in 1976 the government came out with draft declaration population policy which set the legal age of marriage of girls from 15 to 18 years and boys from 18 to 21.
Coming back to the Assam government’s decision, it is an indirect effort to put a brake on the population graph by penalizing an individual for his actions. The policy which comes into effect from 2021 will surely put many, especially in the rural areas of the state, in a tizzy where entertainment options are limited.