UP Draft Bill is a Shortcut to an Enduring Population Control Policy
Without investing in health & education, shortcuts like population bill are unlikely to work except as propaganda.
The political motivation behind UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's draft bill on population control is to try and ensure a message—that the UP government is serious about reducing population.
A second, and more perniciously subtle message, is to the minorities. Especially the Muslims who are in popular perception—particularly in the minds of the UP government—supposed to be having a fertility rate which is much higher than the rest of the population.
Au contraire, the difference is highly negligible. There is a subtext of a communal agenda behind the bill.
It is not created exclusively, nor is it drafted for that purpose, but the aim of this move, and the love-jihad Bill that had come in earlier, seems to be clearly directed against the Muslim minority in order to consolidate the Hindu vote.
The bill itself is an unsustainable shortcuts to an enduring population control policy.
Continuing Aim to Demonise Minorities in Uttar Pradesh
If this move is clubbed with other actions taken by the ruling dispensation today, then it clearly shows the pattern by which, the aim is the demonisation of the minority community.
This demonisation is necessary to consolidate the Hindu vote on some issue which is transcendent of caste and local concentration.
The draft bill on population control, just like the Bills that were brought against so called love-jihad, infantalise the decision by a woman.
Polygamy More Common Among Some Hindu Communities Than Muslims
There is a definitive book written by former election commissioner SY Quraishi, which on the basis of unquestionable, empirical evidence clearly brings out that many allegations like sky-high fertility rate or polygamy which are insidious innuendos against Muslim minorities are, in fact, not brought out by facts.
On the question of polygamy, the book brings out that the practice of polygamy is not as widespread among Muslims as it is in certain sections of Hindus. This may appear to be startling but these are facts. And no, every Muslim is not marrying 3-4 women.
I think we need to base our argumentation and even our innuendos on facts rather than on prejudice.
Invest in Education, Health, Not Blind Propaganda
The alternative way, beyond an insidious agenda-driven policy, is to invest in health and education. Education, specifically for women, is elemental so that they can make informed choices with regard to their own reproductive consequences. It is not as if those who have two children or one, have an extra cranium in their brain. It is because of education and better access to health that they are able to make informed choices about their own well-being and their own future as they want to carve it out.
This is the only enduring way to control population.
When you couple lack of education, especially among women, and link it to poor health infrastructure, and link both of these to situations of abysmal poverty, then you have a situation where people even against their will, are probably going to have more than two children.
These shortcuts about trying to impose population control measures by fiat—unless you also invest in these goals of health and education, and rectify inequities of the system—are unlikely to work except as propaganda.
(Pavan K Varma is an author, former diplomat and is a member of the JD(U). He tweets at @PavanK_Varma. The views expressed are the their own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.