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The logic behind No 4

IFP Editorial: We are at a loss to understand the logic behind the condition which restricts people to produce not more than four children for availing government benefits.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 16 Oct 2022, 7:20 pm

Representational Image (Photo: Pixabay)
Representational Image (Photo: Pixabay)

On October 14, the Manipur Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister N Biren Singh approved the establishment of the Manipur State Population Commission as an ordinance and a condition that no government benefits will be provided to a family that has more than four children.

Earlier, the Manipur Legislative Assembly had unanimously adopted a private member resolution to establish a population commission of the state. MLA Kh Joykisan of Thangmeiband had moved the resolution on the floor of the assembly and cited the abnormal population growth of 153.3 per cent in the hill districts of Manipur from 1971 to 2001.

During 2001 to 2011, the population growth increased to 250.0 per cent. Time and again, we have been writing about instituting a Population Commission in the state, in view of the demand for delimitation based on erroneous Census figures.

ALSO READ: Manipur government's four children policy decried

Our plea for instituting the Population Commission is not only about analysing abnormal growth of population in some hill districts and of exploring ways and means to check population growth based on a scientific study, but also of accurate population data which are linked with development indicators or strategies and benefit schemes. And there is always room for misconceptions and wrong interpretations which often causes unwanted tension among the various communities inhabiting the state.

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The issue of constituting a State Population Commission had been put on the backburner for quite some time till it came up in the state assembly session recently. Taking exception to the proposed delimitation exercise in 2020, several civil society organisations have come up with a demand for setting up a State Population Commission to resolve the issue of abnormal population growths and for finding accurate Census data.

Now, as many as six student bodies of Manipur on Sunday demanded amendment in National Register of Citizens (NRC) and establishment of a Population Commission to detect and deport the illegal immigrant and initiate necessary legal action. Earlier the CSOs had objected to both 2001 and 2011 Census figures as the basis of any delimitation exercise. The state Chief Minister N Biren Singh had objected to a delimitation exercise based on ‘wrong’ Census figures and has called for delimitation on a fresh Census figure without controversy.

ALSO READ: Cabinet decision on four children policy unconstitutional: Manipur Congress

The previous Congress regime had also objected to the delimitation exercise on 18 November 2005, after an all-party meeting. Census operations of 2001 in Manipur were controversial and results were misleading with abnormal growth rates. The then Manipur government decided to order a fresh census after discussions with the team from the Union Home Ministry and the Registrar General of Census Operations.

A fresh survey in 19 subdivisions of the hill and valley districts was ordered. When the enumerators went for re-survey, they were met with resistance from villagers. A group called Re-Census Protest Committee of Senapati district described the fresh survey as unconstitutional and unauthorised. The exercise was labelled as an attempt to deny the tribal people their rights. Some even tried to paint a communal bias to the objection saying that the valley people were concerned with losing some constituencies to the hills and thereby upsetting the power balance.

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Fact is, Census figures of 2001 of Manipur were not complete. Census of Senapati district was not actually conducted but was based on estimated figures. The final figure of Census 2001 of Manipur was estimated at 22,93,896. This figure was not based on actual head count but on projected data.

We appreciate the decision to enact an Ordinance for the State Population Commission. But, we are at a loss to understand the logic behind the condition which restricts people to produce not more than four children for availing government benefits. It is indeed strange and like putting the cart before the horse. One recalls the slogan ‘Hum Do Humara Do” of the Indira Gandhi days which encouraged people to limit the number of children to two per couple and well, of course, the era of forced sterilisation.

China, the most populous country in the world, strictly follows a ‘One Child policy’ while India, the second most populous country encourages small families and ideally two children per couple. So, the question of ‘Why four’ naturally comes up. It is another thing if the newly constituted Population Commission had come up with the idea. So, one has to question whether the proposal has a scientific basis? If so, please put the logic in the public domain so that experts and the general public can discuss it.

EDITORIAL 

 

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Tags:

populationstate population commissionfour children policy

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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