Days after Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma urged the minority Muslim community of the state to adopt a decent family planning policy to deal with grinding poverty and chronic social problems, he has now informed that population norms will be taken into action for providing government benefits.
While speaking on the matter on Friday (June 18), the Assam CM emphasised, “Be it loan waiver or other govt schemes, population norms will be taken into account. It won’t be applicable to tea garden workers/SC-ST community. In future, population norms will be taken into account as eligibility for govt benefits. Population policy has begun.”
We will gradually incorporate a two-child policy for availing govt benefits. You can consider this an announcement: Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma (18.06.2021)— ANI (@ANI) June 20, 2021
He further added, “We will gradually incorporate a two-child policy for availing govt benefits. You can consider this an announcement.” Himanta Biswa Sarma pointed out that the limit would be kept on the higher side i.e. up to 4-5 children. Moreover, families of the tea gardeners, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes will be exempted from the policy.
No government jobs for people with more than two children in Assam
In a bid to stabilise the state’s population growth rate, the Assam Cabinet in October 2019 decided to bar people with more than two children from having government jobs in the state after January 1, 2021. In September 2017, the Assam Legislative Assembly had passed a resolution adopting the ‘Population and Women Empowerment Policy of Assam’. According to the policy, the state government proposed to bar anyone with more than two children from contesting municipal and panchayat elections, getting government jobs and other benefits.
Muslim community criticises ‘two-child policy’ of Assam government
Sarma’s remarks on the need for the Muslim community to work on population control and educating women did not sit well with the detractors, who seemed rattled with his exhortations to the Muslim community to control their population and improve their standard of living.
“What Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said it clearly shows that he has targeted a single community, he targeted the Muslim immigrants. The Muslim migrants didn’t oppose the population policy adopted by the Assam government. Everyone thinks there should be birth control. But Himanta Biswa Sarma’s statement is a politically motivated statement,” AIUDF MLA Aminul Islam said. Party Chief Badruddin Ajmal had remarked in 2019 that the Muslim community will not listen to anyone and keep producing children.
Sarma has also been attacked by opposition since he has five siblings. “There is no point in talking about what our parents did or other people did in the 1970s. The opposition is saying these strange things and pushing us back to the 70s,” Sarma said. He further added that despite earlier criticising him, Ajmal appreciated Sarma government’s efforts on women’s education which has a correlation with population control.