NEW DELHI: After the government’s top think tank Niti Aayog, the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has now begun the spadework on a possible central legislation on population stabilisation.
Sources in the ministry said a Congress-era Bill, tabled in Parliament during the PV Narasimha Rao government in 1992, is now being studied to “assess its feasibility in present times.”
The then 79th Constitution Amendment Bill, introduced by Health Minister ML Fotedar, had proposed amendments in Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Duties to promote population control. The Bill had stipulated amendment to the Direct Principles of State Policy (Article 47) to provide that “state shall endeavour to promote population control” and include the promotion and adoption of the small family norm by citizens as one of the fundamental duties (Article 51 A). The Bill, however, could not move beyond the discussion stage at that time.
“At the moment, we are holding discussions on the Bill that had been prepared nearly 30 years ago. We will see how we can take it forward,” said a senior official in the ministry. This newspaper had earlier reported that after Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined the need for population control in his Independence Day speech last year, the Niti Aayog too has been examining past and existing examples of population control measures adopted by various states and holding discussions.
“Nothing is concrete as of now but there could be something in the offing in the near future,” another official in the health ministry said. The development comes amid the introduction of a private member Bill in the Rajya Sabha last week which had also proposed a constitutional amendment for the government to provide incentives in taxation, employment and education for population control. Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai had moved the Bill on February 7. Last July, BJP MP Rakesh Sinha, had tabled the Population Regulation Bill in the Rajya Sabha as a private member Bill, which proposed to penalise people for having more than two children.
Sops for sticking to two children
The Population Regulation Bill had suggested over a dozen incentives for families to stick to two children, including income tax rebates and free health care for parents, subsidies and loans for plots and houses