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Home Government and Policy The Population Control Law being advocated by people is harebrained and will prove to...

The Population Control Law being advocated by people is harebrained and will prove to be catastrophic

We should know better than giving that power away to political parties whose sole objective is winning elections. "We do not want the government to control our Temples! But the government deciding how many children I should have makes perfect sense!" It's ridiculous.

In recent times, the demand for a population control law has been gaining momentum. Various people, primarily from the ‘Right-wing’ have attributed the cause of many issues that we face today to overpopulation.

While I have no reason to doubt the honest intentions of those advocating for such a law, I believe they are profoundly misguided and thinking very short-term. Regardless of any political differences that we might have, giving a government, any government, the power to decide how many children one should have could have catastrophic consequences. No government should have that much power, no government should be able to determine the number of children its citizens should have. Decisions limiting procreation are not for the government to make.

The concerns regarding population control is motivated largely, it appears, by the growing rate of Muslim population in the country. Prashant Patel Umrao, writing for Organiser, states, “Bharat has the third largest Muslim population next to Indonesia and Pakistan. We’re home to 10 per cent of the world’s Muslim community with 172 million Muslims (2011 census). There is a threat not only to the economic stability of our nation but also to social fabric due to the future disproportionate growth of Population. The other communities, on the other hand, understand the simple logic that limited resources can be ideally shared when there are fewer members. They believe in giving their children quality life. So encouraging them to procreate more won’t help at all. In such a situation the feasible option left is a coherent approach to holding back the population explosion which we severely lack. The disproportionately high population would be seriously baffling for our nation, leading to a high crime rate, tarnishing the social fabric, creating chaos in entire administration and thus cascading grave problems; burdening the government and our limited resources. So population control law becomes imperative in the national interest.”

I understand that these are not entirely misplaced concerns as an unstable religious demography is a recipe for chaos for any country. However, it is the one thing that a population control law will never solve.

The secular state has shown time and again that it is unwilling to implement laws equitably against the minority community. For instance, a non-bailable warrant was issued against Shahi Imam Bukhari in 2013 by a local court for not appearing before the court for violation of the model code of conduct but he was never arrested. Sometimes, authorities have to rope in Maulvis and Maulanas to even ensure that Muslims do not commit power theft and pay their bills on time. Under such circumstances, it’s extremely naive to assume that Muslims will be forced to obey any population control law.

If the expectation is that the entire might of the state machinery will be used to implement the said order, then it’s naivete of the highest order. Just compare the intensity with which the Indian police is dealing with those bursting firecrackers in Diwali and the manner in which the Police abdicated their responsibility of providing security to citizens at all costs when Muslim mobs rampaged across the streets of West Bengal against Hindus. The Indian state cannot even deport illegal immigrants from the country and certain people expect them to enforce a population control law, it is quite ridiculous.

Furthermore, there is no guarantee that the political party you favour will stay in power forever. Therefore, any political party that perceives the minority community as its vote-bank will turn a blind eye when they break the population control law and selectively enforce it against Hindus with the objective of enlarging their own vote-bank at the expense of another party. The selective enforcement of the law against Hindus is likely to happen anyway regardless of which political party in power considering the track record of the Indian state. Seriously, a state whose administration has to rope in clerics to ensure the payment of electric bills and discourage electricity theft cannot be expected to strictly enforce the population control law which will obviously incur far more retaliation.

Other reasons cited for such a law include corruption and increasing competition for limited resources in the future. These arguments are not based on objective observable facts either. There are more than seven billion people living in the world at this moment and we are far richer, far more prosperous than any human civilization has ever been in recorded history. Fatalists have often argued in the past that the population explosion would cause humans to go extinct by 2000, they have all proven to be hilariously off target.

India’s problem is not overpopulation and really, what are the objective standards by which we measure what overpopulation is? India is not uniformly populated. There are areas where the population density is far more than it should be but the cause of it is rapid urbanization and the opportunities that urbanization presents. Rural India is fairly sparsely populated. Why should Arunachal Pradesh which had a population density of 17 in 2011 be made to pay for the fact that Delhi’s population density was over eleven thousand?

It is preposterous to think there is a possibility of anything good coming of the proposed population control law. The Rightwing has been vociferously criticizing the Judiciary for issuing unimplementable judgments and yet they are advocating for a law that is harebrained from the very offset. It is potentially catastrophic. Just as atheists shouldn’t have the right to enter Temples by violating its traditions, you should not have the right either to decide how many children others can have. We should know better than giving that power away to political parties whose sole objective is winning elections. “We do not want the government to control our Temples! But the government deciding how many children I should have makes perfect sense!” It’s ridiculous.

How else do we stop the fast-changing demographic shift underway due to the minority community having far too many children? I do not know. But the solution is surely not preventing Hindus from having as many kids as they want to. The population control law will provide political parties with the opportunity to legally engineer a populace that is more viable to its own interests. They can effectively manufacture an electorate that is more suited to their own interests. That is not a power that we want to give any political party. Such a law could and would spell doom for the nation if it is ever implemented and we should all refrain from advocating for a such a misguided proposition.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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