Health minister says no to BJP MP’s population control bill: Educate, not force

OPPOSING a party MP’s private member’s bill which sought to implement a two-child rule with penal provisions for breaches, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said Friday in Rajya Sabha that instead of using “force (jabran)”, the government had successfully used sensitization and health campaigns to control the population.

BJP MP Rakesh Sinha had submitted his population regulation bill to Rajya Sabha in July 2019. He withdrew the bill on Friday, following Mandaviya’s intervention.

Mandaviya listed the impact of family planning programs on various indicators, including a reduction in the total fertility rate (TFR) – the average number of children per woman – to 2.0 nationally. He cited statistics from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-V and census data, among others, to establish that the rate of population growth has steadily declined.

“When we talk about NFHS and look at the census, we can see the success we have achieved. In 1971, the average annual exponential growth was 2.20; 2.14 in 1991; 1.97 in 2001; and 1. 64 in 2011. This shows that population growth has been declining and declining. The growth rate observed between the 60s and 80s has decreased significantly. This is a good sign. The total fertility rate has fallen to 2.0 in NFHS -V,” he said.

Mandaviya also highlighted the drop in the teenage birth rate and teenage marriage rate to 6.8% and 23.3% respectively. “It indicates that the government policies on controlling the population without using force, or making it compulsory, and through sensitization are working … I ask him (Sinha), we are trying to work to achieve your goals so that all classes, communities get the best opportunities. develop. I ask you to withdraw the bill,” he said.

Withdrawing his bill, Sinha said he was confident that “we will be able to control our people, elevating ourselves above caste, religion, language and district”, thanks to serious efforts undertaken by the government in this regard. “The efforts of our (government) are undertaken in a constitutional manner. We don’t want to repeat the urgency,” he said.

Sinha said that although he did not use the words Hindu or Muslim in his bill, one should not shy away from using “facts” when discussing an issue. “Using the words Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Parsi does not make it unconstitutional,” he said. “Between 1901 and 2011, the Hindu population decreased by 13.8%, while the Muslim population increased by 9.8%. It’s a fact. I don’t want to comment on whether this increase is good or bad, but you can’t deflect from the facts,” he said.

BJP members KJ Alphons, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar and Harshvardhan Singh Dungarpur, who spoke ahead of Mandaviya, backed the bill as they questioned the alleged population growth rate of a particular community.

Opposing the bill, Congressman Jairam Ramesh said the country had reached replacement level fertility. “After two generations, the population will remain stable or begin to decline. Rakesh Sinha’s bill is based on a completely flawed assumption. Except for the most unfortunate emergency period, family planning in India has been based on democratic means,” he said.

Ramesh said Parliament must also debate how not to penalize southern and western states that are family planning success stories. The issue has policy implications in light of another possible round of demarcation, he said.

TMC MP Jawhar Sircar, who also opposed the bill, said educating girls and women was the time-tested “magic pill” that could help in population control. He also advised against the deployment of state force. “Never give a bureaucracy vague powers, they are more likely to be misused than you think,” said Sircar, a retired IAS officer.