One of the senior-most Congress members and an incumbent Rajya Sabha member, Abhishek Manu Singhvi is going to float a private member bill in Rajya Sabha, calling for enforcement of a two-child norm through incentives and disincentives, says an Indian Express report.
Singhvi has also received President Ram Nath Kovind’s assent to table The Population Control Bill, 2020. The approval from the President was essential as the Bill has monetary ramifications, given that it proposes incentives and disincentives to enforce the two-child policy.
The Bill proposes the establishment of a National Population Stabilisation Fund, bankrolled by the central government, for providing financial inducements to couples adhering to the two-child norm. The Fund will also ensure easy availability of contraceptives at modest rates at all-sub health centres.
The Bill also recommends providing special privileges and benefits to married couples having one child and who decide to undergo vasectomy/sterilisation. The benefits stated in the proposed bill include “preference to the single child” for admission in institutes of higher education and selection in government jobs. For married couples belonging to below the poverty line, Singhvi has put forth a suggestion in the bill that the centre must provide them with a “lumpsum amount of Rs 60,000 for a boy child and Rs 1 lakh if the single child is a girl”.
Regarding the disincentives that would dissuade the married couples from conceiving more than two children, the Bill has a provision to debar both the husband and the wife from contesting in Lok Sabha, state legislature and panchayat elections, elections to Rajya Sabha and similar elective bodies. The Bill further says that such noncompliant couples who fall above the poverty line will be excluded from getting promotion in government services, applying to Group A jobs under the central and state governments and be beneficiaries of any kind of government subsidy.
The Bill also lists a caveat, asking all the employees of the central government to submit an undertaking in writing that they will not reproduce more than two children after one year of the commencement of the act. In addition, those employees who already have more than two children will have to submit an underwriting that they would not have any more children. Furthermore, the Bill says that the central government while recruiting employees should give preferential treatment to those candidates who have two or less than two living children.
The Bill provides exceptions in certain cases such as in case an employee of the central government already having two children is allowed to procreate if one of the living children is disabled. According to the Bill, employees of the central government who are found flouting any of the provision of the Act will stand liable to be dismissed from their service.
Defending his private Bill that enforces two-child policy, Singhvi said, “I have abstained from adding any type of coercion in the Bill by providing a sophisticated, carefully assessed, a nuanced framework of inducements and disincentives, entirely financial and career-based. Each and every individual without exception, without region, community, caste, religion or political access are expected to abide by the provisions of the Bill. It has practicable escape routes and exceptions for those who have specific disabilities or exigencies.”
In February this year, Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai had moved a private member bill in Rajya Sabha to promote limiting the number of children in a family to two. The Shiv Sena MP had introduced a Constitutional Amendment Bill to introduce a new provision – Article 47A into Part IV of the Constitution of India to incentivise people who keep their family limited to two children and to withdraw every concession from people who fail to adhere to the small family norm.
Several states in India have already enacted two-child norm, barring people having more than two children from contesting in local body elections, state government jobs and other disincentives. Most states have disincentives for violating the norm, without any incentive for following the norm as Singhvi has proposed.