With India’s population growing exponentially, a group of people have embarked on a campaign to force the government to formulate a law for population control. The campaign “Bharat4PopulationLaw”, supported by 125 MPs and many celebrities, is being spread through different channels and platforms, mainly social media. It is being spearheaded by Tax Payers Association of Bharat (TAXAB), an independent advocacy group of common tax payers of the country.
Those behind the campaign believe that the root cause of all the problems of India lies in the exploding population, which has crossed 135 crore and can be addressed only by enacting a law. Over the years, population control measures have largely focused on advocacy for family planning and behavior changes but, according to them, time has come for India to take stiffer and definitive steps alongside what is already being done.
While 125 MPs from different political parties submitted a petition Speaker Sumitra Mahajan during the last winter session demanding a discussion on the draft Responsible Parenthood Act prepared by the group, Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sanjeev Balyan moved a Private Member’s Bill on the issue in the Lower House.
“We have contacted most of the MPs, Chief Ministers, Governors and key officials to sensitize them on the issue which has so far been neglected by the policy makers. We have asked the political parties to give answer to this burning question. We want the political parties to include this issue in the campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” TAXAB president Manu Gaur told The Sunday Guardian.
“The country is still facing problems of hunger, poverty, etc because the population hasn’t stablised,” he added.
The cry for a law to check population growth is not new. According to Gaur, as many as 35 Private Member’s Bills have been introduced in Parliament over the issue since Independence, but unfortunately there was no discussion on even one of them. “Interestingly, out of 35 MPs who moved the Bill, 15 were from Congress, eight from BJP, one each from RJD, TMC, BJD etc. “We also held a meeting on the issue in the Constitution Club, which was attended by eight of the 35 MPs.”
In 1992, the Narasimha Rao government tabled the 79th Constitution Amendment Bill for making two-child norm as one of the eligibility criteria to contest the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. “It was moved by then Health Minister M.L. Fotedar. But, he resigned from the ministry as well as from the Congress following demolition of Babri mosque on 6 December 1992. After that, the Bill was tabled on 18 December, so no discussion could be held on it. The Bill is pending since then,” he said.
The Venkatchalaiah Committee, during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, was asked to the review the Constitution. This committee, which submitted its report in 2002, spoke about making amendments in the Constitution and advocated small family by amending Article 47 and also for being a responsible parent under the Article 51 (Fundamental Duties). Recently in 2017, BJP MP from Saharanpur, Raghav Lakhanpal, moved a Bill on this issue in Parliament.
Gaur said the TAXAB campaign is getting support from cross sections of the society. “We are getting support from opinion makers from Bollywood, sports, defence and civil society. A video recording of song ‘Main Bharat Bol Raha Hoon’, sung by Kailash Kher, Suresh Wadekar, Shaan, Ankit Tiwari and others, is being shared on social media and it is drawing huge attraction,” he said.