Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said proper education and awareness among women was crucial to control the population explosion and merely framing a law would not serve any purpose.
The statement from the BJP’s Bihar ally comes amid Uttar Pradesh’s attempts to “regulate” population growth with a draft bill which lists out incentives and disincentives for the promotion of the two-child norm in the state.
Speaking to reporters, Kumar said he was not concerned with what other states were doing in this regard, the Times of India reported. The chief minister added that his views were based on data collected from various surveys and research and he was sure that the birth rate in the country would start declining by 2040.
Kumar said there was a time when Bihar’s birth rate was 4 per cent, which had now come down to 1.6 per cent, lower than the national average. He stressed that while a law may be helpful, the key to population control was in education and awareness.
UP’s new population policy 2021-2030, which was unveiled on Sunday, states that whosoever is in contravention of the two-child norm after the commencement of the Act shall be debarred from the benefit of all government-sponsored welfare schemes, cannot contest election to local bodies, shall be ineligible to apply for government jobs under the state government, cannot get a promotion in a government job, his or her ration card would be limited to four members, and he or she shall be ineligible to receive any kind of government subsidy.
UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath said that along with awareness and better health facilities, all necessary efforts should be made for population stabilisation. He said that while preparing the new population policy, efforts should be made to maintain the demographic balance in all the communities, easy availability of advanced health facilities, and to bring down the maternal and child mortality rate to the minimum level through proper nutrition.
The objectives of the new policy should be embedded in the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals. In this, targets have been set on different parameters in two phases for 2026 and 2030.
Apart from UP, the Assam government may bring new two-child legislation during next month’s budget session of the state assembly to enforce it widely. The law could make only those with up to two children eligible for government jobs and welfare schemes, official sources have said.
The law has been termed as a conspiracy against Muslims by Samajwadi Party MLA from Sambhal Iqbal Mehmood. “It is actually an attack on Muslims in the garb of population control,” Mehmood told PTI. The law also impacts the remarriage for widowed or separated women, disincentivizing childbearing for previously married women can impact their socio-economic status and the possibility of remarriage.