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Two-child family norm issue: Center remains reticent

By IndianMandarins- 13 Jul 2021
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New Delhi (13.07.2021): Even though two NDA CMs, Himanta Biswa Sarma of Assam and Adityanath of UP, have pitched for a two-child family norm, the central government is far from owning or espousing the idea. Indeed, the central government's reticence on the issue is striking considering the UP government has already issued a draft bill on the issue for public discussion and comment.

Knowledgable people attribute the central government's studied silence on the proposed codification of the two-child family norm to its desire to figure out the public response before committing itself in one way or another.

The Uttar Pradesh administration's explanation for its desire to codify the two-child family before the 2022 Assembly elections are that the state can't afford to have the current rate of population escalation if it really means to improve the economic status of its people. But it is asked why the state administration has woken to this reality now. Does it see any electoral benefit from the move? Or is it because the state administration has been unable to meet the aspirations of the people in the last four years and hence it is resorting to divert their attention to a highly volatile non-issue?

The issue may be a 'eureka' moment for CM Adityanath on top of his claimed achievements, but it hasn't yet seemed to have had the desirable impact on the targeted groups. Many in the Sangh Pariwar don't seem to be happy with the draft bill, which, they consider, will add to the continuing erosion of the Sanatan population in the state.

It is pointed out that one of the many reasons for the population explosion in the state as elsewhere is the desire of dominant groups to keep raising their population to sustain their domination of politics and society. So, it is argued, that, unless the rules governing the right to vote as well as to get public services are so amended as to discourage people from increasing their population, no effort is going to succeed.

Already, many socio-cultural groups associated with Sanatana Dharma have objected to certain career and pecuniary benefits offered in the draft bill to government employees on the ground that these may induce degrowth in the Sanatan population of the state.

Sangh Pariwar ideologues have pointed out that even in states with the ideal TFR of 2.1 such as Kerala, there is a TFR mismatch among communities - Hindus 1.5 and Muslims 2.8, while Christians have the TFR even lower than that of the Sanatanis.

So, there may be some merit in the expressed desire of some of Sangh Pariwar's ideologues for legal intervention to equalize the TFR ratio of different communities.

Indeed, a BJP Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha had introduced a private members bill on the issue in 2019. This bill may be discussed in the house during the next session of Parliament. Further, Supreme Court lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay is campaigning against population explosion with his PILs.

All of this may suggest that the central government may be measuring the public, legislative, and judicial response to the issue in several ways. It is in no hurry to commit itself one way or another.

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