The 2-child draft policy is aimed at controlling Assam's alarming 17% population growth every year
The BJP government in Assam has proposed extending its controversial plan for a two-child policy to include lawmakers from the state and said today that it will recommend their disqualification if they do not adhere to it. Those who have more than two children will be barred from contesting elections.
"The government of Assam will take up with the centre that MLAs adhere to family planning laws. The two-child norm will be proposed as a yardstick for any contestant to the state legislature," said the state's Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
The two-child draft policy, aimed at controlling Assam's alarming 17 percent population growth every year, suggests that people who have more than two children will not be eligible for government jobs and benefits. It also proposes that they will be ineligible to become members of panchayat and civic bodies.
Mr Sarma today released a second draft of the population policy, which renames it the Draft Population and Women Empowerment Policy of Assam. The first draft was released last month to loud protests from opposition parties and NGOs. It has been compared to China's experiment with moderating population with a one-child policy, which, critics point out skewed that country's gender ratio.
Mr Sarma said the second draft includes suggestions made by people after the state government sought public opinion.
In the new draft, the government has proposed monetary incentives for those who will follow the policy, and said it will relax rules for those who have twins or triplets the second time.
The minister said the state government has also decided to review laws to protect women from discrimination and violence, and the new draft says laws that prevent underage marriage and laws against rape and domestic violence will be stringently applied.
He announced a dependency allowance or pension for widows, and schemes for divorced and single women to ensure "dignity and opportunity to live without persecution".
The state government, Mr Biswa said, will try to place the draft policy in the assembly for its approval in the next session in August.
The Congress has demanded that the state government consult all parties before bringing such a law. Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi demanded a national policy and also that MPs and MLAs from the state be brought under the two-child norm.
The Assam government has said that the state's population has grown by a crore in the 16 years between 2001 and 2017, necessitating urgent steps.