Arguing that increasing population is putting pressure on India’s limited natural resources, a private member Bill by Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi, which is set to come up in Rajya Sabha, calls for enforcement of a two-child norm through incentives and disincentives.
Since The Population Control Bill, 2020 has monetary implications, it required the President’s permission for its introduction in Rajya Sabha. President Ram Nath Kovind, Singhvi told The Indian Express, has given the permission.
In the Bill, the disincentives for those who do not comply include barring them from contesting elections, getting promotions in government services, receiving government subsidy — barring those in the BPL category —or applying for Group A jobs.
Not the only one
The Bill calls for providing financial incentives to couples adhering to the two-child norm, setting up of a National Population Stabilisation Fund by the central government and ensuring availability of contraceptives at reasonable rates at all-sub health centres.
The Bill suggests that if a married couple, who have only one child, “voluntarily undergo sterilisation/operation”, then the government should provide them benefits including “preference to the single child” for admission in institutes of higher education and selection in government jobs. For married couples who live below the poverty line and undergo voluntary undergo sterilisation/operation, he has suggested that the Centre give them a “one-time lump sum amount of Rs 60,000… if the single child is a boy or Rs Rs 1 lakh if the single child is a girl.”
As for disincentives, the Bill says “both the husband and the wife in the case of a married couple, who have more than two children, shall be debarred from contesting in Lok Sabha, state legislature and panchayat elections, elections to Rajya Sabha… and similar elective bodies… getting promotion in government services, applying to Group A jobs under the central and state governments and receiving any kind of government subsidy, in case the married couple falls in the above poverty line category.”
The Bill says “after one year from the commencement of this Act… all employees of the central government shall submit an undertaking in writing… that they shall not procreate more than two children.” And employees who already have more than two children at the commencement of the Act shall “submit an undertaking that they shall not procreate any more children.” The central government while recruiting employees, the Bill says, should give preference to candidates who have two or less than two living children.
As for exceptions, the Bill says the “employee of the central government already having two living children may be allowed to procreate one more child in case of disability of living child or any such circumstances as prescribed in the rules”. It says “an employee of the central government whose action is found to be in violation of any provision of this Act shall be liable for dismissal from service”.
Singhvi said “real prosperity and well being is measured always in per-capita income and not in gross income. Whenever we talk about 5 trillion and 20 trillion economy, it feels good… but what matters is the per capita division of that five trillion… and we can never have that degree of prosperity without population control.”
“I have eschewed all forms of coercion by giving a sophisticated, calibrated, nuanced framework of inducements and disincentives, entirely financial and career-based… This is intended to apply to each and every individual without exception, without region, community, caste, religion or political access. It has reasonable escape routes and exceptions for those who have specific disabilities or exigencies,” he said.
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