Just like India always needed a written Constitution or a codified Criminal Law, which has power to punish any violations, it also needs a codified law on population control. This law has to have clear provisions on the number of children a particular family can have
India, the place where the earliest civilisation began, is indeed a great nation. Politicians – either from the ruling party or the opposition – might sometimes use this ‘great nation’ rhetoric for votes, but it is no overstatement. We are a country where people from multiple faiths, linguistic preferences and lifestyles have lived as a family.
Ahead of neighbours
Resources might not be abundant, for example much of our crude is imported, but exports in Information Technology, textiles and other sectors have always helped maintain a healthy balance of trade. India, unlike nations like Sri Lanka or Pakistan, has never failed to honour any debt obligations. That we are a great nation is no rhetoric. That said, it is also imperative to realise that unless timely measures are undertaken with respect to things like population growth, the expression ‘India is great’ might one day actually become rhetoric.
Looming Population Crisis
No one can deny that our country is staring at a huge population crisis over the coming decades. No Government, regardless of the political party in power, can increase a nation’s resources beyond a certain capacity. If we do not have enough crude, we don’t have it, simple. Yes, we are rich in agriculture, but with unchecked population growth, this ‘abundance’ can soon vanish and become ‘scarcity’. Neglecting the crisis today could prove detrimental to our coming generations.
India has a written, codified law of the land, which we call the Constitution. It lends support to the social and economic development of the country. Any legislation passed by the ruling Government, either Central or of any State, that is not in sync with the Constitution can be challenged in the court of law and declared unconstitutional. Now consider what if our country did not have a written Constitution. Any ruling Government could have come up with a bizarre proposal, say the party in power at the Centre intending to infringe upon the freedom and rights of state legislatures, and it would have easily passed the constitutionality hurdle.
It is true that we would not have survived the whims and fancies of politicians in the absence of a written Constitution. In the same breath, it can be said that any policy action of the Government, unless codified, is no more than a toothless tiger. When you give an option to anyone to abide by a certain good thing, many people would always tend to ignore it. This is one reason why India needs a codified law on population control, just like we have CPC and CrPC, and not any voluntary policy that looks good and productive only on papers. Several attempts to have a codified law to check population growth have faced hurdles by those who term these proposals ‘Islamophobic’ and targeting one religion.
One Law For All
Things like affirmative actions, which benefit any one class of citizens, are debatable. People can say that legislative backing to reservation in jobs for socially and educationally backward classes is unjust for the rest of the classes. But without dwelling on such controversial topics, it is high time to have a productive discussion on legislative backing to population control. This law, indeed, cannot discriminate against any class of citizens, be it on the basis of faith, literacy, or economic status of the household. This is because if it does, then it would take only a few weeks for the court to declare it unconstitutional. This means the argument that a law on population is a tool to target a certain community is inherently flawed.
It is high time to have a productive discussion on legislative backing to population control. This law, indeed, cannot discriminate against any class of citizens, be it on the basis of faith, literacy, or economic status of the household
What is wrong in any law that mandates a family to have no more than two children? We are a civilised society that takes pride in its scientific temper and progressive thinking. If giving the right to vote to all adults irrespective of social and economic status was progressive, if not discriminating against women in matters of education and jobs was progressive, checking unsustainable rise in population is also progressive. After all, any country can have only limited resources, which must be divided among all the citizens. Dividing limited resources among an unlimited number of beneficiaries is simply not possible. It is like a wrong belief that everything is good.
Present State of Affairs
Not only India, but the entire world is bearing the brunt of inflationary pressure at the moment. In the advanced economies of the US, Australia and Canada, prices of non-discretionary goods are at multi-decade high levels. The root cause is demand, which directly contributes to price pressures. And this is when all these nations are not as burdened by population as India. Consider this-a growing population needs a greater number of jobs, for example, many people have joined food and parcel delivery startups.
These people require a motorised vehicle to deliver orders, which is directly contributing to demand and consumption of gasoline. Since the demand is high, prices had to tick up.
No economy, be it advanced like the US or developing ones like India and China, can produce an unlimited number of jobs. A country like India, which has the biggest pool of jobseekers, tends to suffer from joblessness, simply because the labour force is too bulky. Does it make any sense to add even more people to this labour force? When we talk about living standards, why do we fail to consider that India is a country with such a high population that lifting everyone from the clutches of poverty and illiteracy is a very difficult task. The ongoing global economic phase is even more difficult, thanks to issues like the ongoing war in Ukraine, which demands a timely policy action.
It perhaps makes no sense to have any policy on things like fertility rate, crude birth rate and related elements if it is voluntary and has no teeth. Similar to why we always needed a written Constitution or a codified Criminal Law, which have the power to punish any violations, we also need a codified law on population control. This law has to have clear provisions on the number of children a particular family can have, any punishments like exclusion from state benefits in cases of violations, and any exceptions like for tribal people. India, to remain a great nation, has to check its unsustainable population growth because we cannot increase our resources beyond a set limit.
(The article “Why a codified law needed to control population” published in ‘Organiser’)