After Assam brought the population control bill, the debate around the idea became more heated in states across the country. The Uttar Pradesh law commission has already proposed such a bill and the Madhya Pradesh government is also mulling over the same. However Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is not a fan.
The MLAs in Bihar from across party lines are demanding a population control bill for the state, but the Nitish Kumar led government is not ready. The MLAs from the BJP, JD(U), and some even from Congress demanded population control, and the Deputy CM, who is from the BJP, agreed on the same, but Nitish Kumar is not in favor of the idea.
After the UP Law commission floated the population control bill, Nitish Kumar refused to endorse the bill and said, “Every state is free to do whatever it can do to check population growth. Laws alone can’t help check the population. It was found after a lot of research work that the rate of reproduction comes down effectively if women are educated. Bihar has experimented with it by promoting education among the girls and achieved success. If it continued, the state would have negative growth of population after 2040.”
Nitish Kumar wants to control the population by educating girls, despite the fact that it is well known that it will not help in reducing the population in some communities. “There are some exceptions. But the overall impact of girls’ education yielded good results in the state,” said Kumar, while taking an apparent dig at former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad for having many children.
BJP MLA Vijay Kumar Khemka called for a motion of attention over the issue. “We want to draw the attention of the House towards the need for imposing the two-child norm across all castes and communities,” he said.
“We request the government to give serious consideration to a population control law. It is as important as having a law to ban sale and consumption of alcohol,” he added.
A few legislators also demanded the implementation of the Karunakaran Committee (1999) report, which demanded disqualification from contesting elections for those having more than two children.
However, despite the push from legislators across party lines, Nitish Kumar has either kept mum over the issue or opposed the introduction of the bill. This shows that he cares very little about the opinions of the legislators despite his claims of taking everyone along.
The BJP has a higher number of MLAs, and if the party is able to gather a few JD(U) MLAs and a few from opposition along with it over the population control bill, it will be able to pass it as a Private Member Bill, and that would be a big embarrassment for the Nitish Kumar government.
The proposed bill by UP Law Commission also has a provision’ for the incentive of 1 lakh rupees cash reward for having only one child. Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state of the country; the resources are limited and people from certain communities strain these resources with multiple children.
The government spends lakhs of rupees on children from poor families in form of subsidies, health infrastructure, education, and other public goods. Providing incentives including cash benefits of around 1 lakh rupees seems like a better trade-off if the people from these communities only have 1 child.
The problems in Bihar are the same but of a higher degree. It is poorer, has a higher population density, and spends more on welfare. Therefore, the Nitish Kumar government should adopt the cash incentive idea even before UP does, but the Chief Minister is not even ready to consider the idea of a population control bill.