A ticking time-bomb that’s got the PM worried: Population

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Jug Suraiya


Is family planning back in the country’s political vocabulary after the fallout of Sanjay Gandhi’s notorious `nashbandhi’ campaign expunged the term from the populist lexicon?

In his Independence Day speech PM Modi raised the bogey of an uncontrolled population growth which needs to be checked if the nation is to prosper.

“Our rapidly expanding population poses new challenges. There is a section that is well aware of the consequences of uncontrolled population growth. They deserve to be honoured and respected. They… keep their families small… which is also good for the nation. By setting them as examples we need to inspire the segment of society which is not thinking on these lines,” said the PM, adding that we need government schemes to control population growth.

Why this sudden concern about a too-large population? One of the most obvious reasons is of course rampant, and increasing, unemployment, particularly among educated young people, one of the BJP’s prime constituencies.

Because of a sluggish economy – among other factors, such as automation – the number of jobs available are falling far behind the number of job-seekers, all too many of whom hold graduate and even post-graduate degrees.

However, population control through family planning – or family welfare, to use the more politically correct expression – is a long-term solution to unemployment and can’t solve the problem overnight.

Is there a more proximate cause for the PM raising the issue of overpopulation? And which is “the section of society which is not thinking on these lines”?

There is a widespread belief – largely unsubstantiated by empirical data – among certain sections of the majority community that the Muslim population is growing at a faster rate than that of Hindus.

Indeed, several leaders belong to the saffron fraternity have publicly urged Hindus to have large families so as to redress this supposed demographic imbalance.

Were the PM’s words – coming soon after the banning of triple talaq and in widespread expectation of a soon-to-declared uniform civil code – directed at the Muslim community?

Perhaps, or perhaps not.

But it is difficult to dissociate his remarks from another kind of family planning – the planned agenda of the ideological family known as the sangh parivar to promote the cause of Hindutva and majoritarianism at all and any cost.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

via TOI Blog

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