Why Assam wants to replace central population policy with its own, and why Opposition questions it

The text of the draft policy says the National Population Policy of 2000 had failed to achieve a number of goals.

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Guwahati | Updated: April 18, 2017 8:57 am
Assam, Assam population policy, central population policy, population police in Assam, Assam population, india news, Assam news Decadal population growth declining but targets of national population policy not met, says Assam draft policy. File

The Assam government’s draft population policy, which seeks to restrict access to government jobs on the basis of family size, has become a subject of controversy with the Opposition questioning the need for it when a national policy exists. Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, for his part, believes it can set the national template; he told journalists in Bhubaneswar the Assam government would suggest the Centre adopt it.

One controversial provision is that it seeks to bar persons with more than two children from government jobs and from contesting in elections to panchayats, municipal bodies, other statutory bodies and committees — apart from fixing a minimum educational qualification as eligibility criteria for contesting such polls “in aid of creating an educated society and political structure.”

Simultaneously, it proposes incentives for ensuring the two-children norm: additional grants to districts and gaon panchayats that exceed policy targets, awards to government hospitals and NGOs and self-help groups if all members follow the norm, to village heads and panchayats for better record-keeping, to schools for 100% retention of girls.

Assam, Assam population policy, central population policy, population police in Assam, Assam population, india news, Assam news

Assam, Assam population policy, central population policy, population police in Assam, Assam population, india news, Assam newsThe text of the draft policy says the National Population Policy of 2000 had failed to achieve a number of goals. Though the national decadal growth rate declined from 21.5% for 1991-2001 to 17.6% for 2001-2011, it failed to meet targets for total fertility rate, infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate until 2015, it says. “Achieving a stable population by 2045 does not seem feasible (under NPP 2000),” it says. Justifying the two-child norm and citing SRS 2013 figures (see charts), the draft says Assam’s average family size is 5.5, above the national 4.45 according to Census 2011.

At several places, the policy mentions a “demographic challenge” and a “volatile population scenario” that “will inevitably lead to social tension and political instability”.

“The government has to take everyone into confidence while handling such a sensitive issue. The draft policy should be first discussed in the assembly,” said state PCC president Ripun Bora. Former CM Tarun Gogoi said, “There is a national population policy. Moreover, why only apply the two-child norm only to panchayats and municipal body polls?” In Bhubaneswar, Sarma said the government wants to extend that restriction to assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal, MP, calls the draft policy a violation of fundamental rights. Besides, he added, families with more than two children per family are mostly found among Muslims and SC and ST communities. “This policy, once implemented, will affect a large number of Muslims, the SC/ST people and the poor,” he said.

The policy has identified char (river) areas, tea belts and “some tribal areas” as responsible for the “demographic challenge”. It says while child marriage in age group 7-10 is “not prominent” in Assam, there are high incidences of marriage at 14-16 among girls and 16-20 among boys. “Some communities also have high incidences of underage marriage and polygamy. MMR is very high among inhabitants of char areas and the tea tribes,” it adds. Also, “existence of religious prejudices and conservative values against family planning is high among some communities. Only a tiny fraction of men opt to have vasectomies. Male sterilisation is viewed as culturally unacceptable among most of the communities.” It proposes to encourage NGOs and religious leaders who advocate the small family norm with grants and awards.

The draft policy proposes a task force to formulate an action plan on population and reproductive health, a State Population Council, a Population Resource Centre and committees at district, block and gram-panchayat levels to implement the policy.

The goals include maintaining a declining trend in fertility rate and achieving a stable population at least by mid-21st century, safe motherhood and reduced mortality, and gender equality.

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  1. B
    Bhaskar Malakar
    Apr 19, 2017 at 9:26 am
    Why so much hullabaloo? In today's economic scenario how many children we middle cl people, who actually raise and educate our children to get them a (stable) sarkari naukari, afford to raise properly?? One or Two. How many children our commentators' wish to raise themselves is their personal concern!!!! What do you want am to become? A progressive state or a state to despair upon religious and ethenic clashes. Our children are forced to move out to other far away places for their higher education and prospective future. We spend our income in those places and make their economy strong. Why can't we grow our am into such a destination where investment in various sectors are received so that to make it world cl destination in every sector so that our best minds need not move out of our state for education and employment?? I'm with government s' each positive decision…....
    1. P
      Apr 18, 2017 at 8:01 pm
      State po tion policy is believed to be implemented for all people irrespective of caste and Creed, rank and file, religions.So, the Muslims, Christians, other minorities, dalits, tea tribes need not bother about their future.They are safe provided they do according to the po tion policy.
      1. Pradeep Chaturvedi
        Apr 18, 2017 at 1:04 pm
        INDIANS are S. Why should we discuss debate . Nothing is left. No forests no clean rivers no clean fresh air. Allocate Rs 1 lakh to couples with 2-kids. We cannot take the opinion of barbers carpenters cab drivers bartenders to formulate serious critical po tion control policy. Citizens (Muslims) who desire more than 2-kids can migrate to stan or any of the 56 Islamic nations. S subsidies. Ruling cl -Editors, Doctors politicians babus lawyers-want cheap free labour cl so they deliberately discourage 2-kids policy. Minorities should behave like minorities cannot put a spanner in any policy decision. No extra babies please. India is like a over-crowded RTC bus driver lost control breaks failed heading down a bend. Terminate I.A.S officer with more than 2-kids. No Mercy
        1. S
          Apr 18, 2017 at 12:59 pm
          bjp still does not speak like a party with absolute majority. They should grow some balls and clearly state their dream is to implement the vision of manu & the rss, i.e. no government benefits for muslims/Christian/dalits and an absolute rule by the savarnas.
          1. M
            Apr 18, 2017 at 11:07 am
            The country is heading back towards Brahmanical dominance.Muslims being the soft target devoid of socio economic development and political seclusion, This hindutva brigade is taking country back to the anarchic,caste ridden and narrow developmental model on the premise of hollow development propa a.
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