I Kid You Not: population control, not politics

By the Indian Legal Office

Three candidates from the municipal corporations of Vadodara and Rajkot were disqualified on February 8 under the two-child policy in Gujarat for running for election. The nominations were contested as each candidate had three children.

The electoral official of Ward 15 of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) rejected the appointment of Dipak Shrivastav, a two-term corporator and son of MP BJP Madhu Shrivastav. Dipak applied for freelance after the BJP refused him a ticket. He has three children, one of whom was “adopted” by his father just before the election was announced.

Independent candidate Viren Rami, a serving VMC Ward 9 corporator, was also disqualified after BJP candidate Shrirang Ayare claimed he only cited the names of two biological children. The nomination of Naran Savseta, congressional candidate for Ward 4 of Rajkot Municipal Corporation, was also rejected for the same reason.

The election official’s ordinance cited Article 10 of the Gujarat Provisional Municipal Corporations Act 1949, which was amended on August 4, 2015, and states that any candidate with more than two living biological children should be excluded from the election. ballot.

In 2005, the government of Gujarat amended the Gujarat Local Authority Act to “prevent a person with more than two children from being a member of a panchayat, or a councilor of a municipality or municipal corporation.” The amendment also added the clause to other laws governing elections to local administrative bodies, such as the Gujarat Provincial Municipal Corporations Act 1949 and the Gujarat Panchayats Act.

The rationale for the two-child policy would have been the need to “order and stabilize” the growing population. Last year, Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay, a politician and lawyer for the BJP, called for a law that would deny access to government jobs, grants and certain rights to people with more than two children. Rights denied, according to the petition, would include the right to vote, property and free shelter. In its response, the government told the Supreme Court it would not implement a mandatory two-child policy.

However, several states, including Assam, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh, have already implemented some form of two-child standard for applicants for government positions or jobs. elected.

If we consider the state versus the state, the picture is clear. In Rajasthan, applicants with more than two children are not eligible for government jobs. The Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, states that if a person has more than two children, they will not be able to stand for election as a panch or member.

Madhya Pradesh has followed the two child standard since 2001. Under Madhya Pradesh Civil Service Rules (General Conditions of Service), if the third child is born on or after January 26, 2001, he or she becomes ineligible for government service . The rule also applies to higher court services.

In Karnataka, the 1993 Karnataka (Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj) law does not prohibit people with more than two children from standing for election to local bodies such as the gram panchayat. Interestingly, the law says that a person is not eligible to challenge “if they do not have a sanitary latrine for the use of their family members”.

Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis law prohibits people with more than two children from running in local elections (gram panchayats at municipal corporations). The Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) Rules, 2005, states that a person with more than two children is not entitled to hold office in the state government. Women with more than two children are also not allowed to benefit from the public distribution system.

Also read: Koo or No Koo: the personal data protection bill is the answer

UP is also considering a proposal to include the two-child standard and a minimum education clause for candidates in panchayat elections, which are expected to take place early.

Although there is no national two child policy in India, there are local laws. These laws are aimed at politicians, current and aspiring. Under this policy, candidates for panchayat (local government) elections can be disqualified if they fail to follow the two-child policy. The idea behind the law is that ordinary citizens will look to their local politicians and follow their example.

In 2002, a government committee tasked with reviewing the functioning of the Constitution recommended adding the guiding principle to Article 47A which read: “Population control. – The State strives to ensure control of the population through education and the implementation of restricted family standards. However, this was not done.

India’s total fertility rate fell from 3.4 children per woman, aged 15 to 49, in 1992-93 to 2.2 children in 2015-16, according to data from the National Survey of family health 4. This figure is expected to drop to 1.93 by 2025 and 1.8 by 2030, without any coercive laws, according to a report from the Ministry of Health.

In 1952, India became the first developing country to have the foresight to formulate a voluntary national family protection program. Since then, especially after the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994, India’s demographic discourse has followed an empowerment approach, which emphasizes that every woman has the right to decide if, when and how many ‘children she should have.

It was during the state of emergency imposed by the government of Indira Gandhi that the two-child policy received an aggressive impetus. It was the decade when China shifted from its two-child policy to a one-child policy. Then, during the 1980s, “Hum Do Hamare Do (The Two of Us, Our Two)” was popularized by mass campaigns. The National Health Policy has been adopted. The National Population Policy entered in 2000 with the long-term goal of stabilizing the population by 2045.

When the Indian population crossed the billion mark on May 11, 2000, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said: “Stabilization of the population cannot be achieved without comprehensive socio-economic development, and certainly not through coercion.

Rajya Sabha’s 2019 Population Control Bill called for sterilization incentives by granting special benefits to families where one of the spouses undergoes the procedure.

The history of population control through family planning is a curious case in India, which has the distinction of being the first developing country to officially launch such a program as early as 1951. Thanks to the efforts of the government over the years. decades, India has already started to experience a slowdown in its demographic growth and is on the way to stabilizing its population with a total fertility rate of 2.2.

Also read: Bombay SLP Milk Producers Association Against Mumbai Milk Trade Transfer to be Heard by Supreme Court

In fact, 24 states have already achieved the replacement level of two children on average. It is important to note that the decline in the total fertility rate varies from state to state depending on their state of health and development.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day speech in 2019 told the people that population control is a form of patriotism. Months later, NITI Aayog called various stakeholders for a nationwide consultation on the issue. This was later canceled due to media glare. In 2020, the prime minister spoke of a likely move to revise the age of marriage for women, which many stakeholders see as an indirect attempt to control the size of the population.

Better late than never.