Kerala law panel recommends population-control measures

via Pioneer News Service | Kochi published on July 27, 2008

The recommendation for measures for population control in Kerala by the law reforms committee headed by the CPI(M)-led LDF Government is to send the minority communities in the State to the streets even as their agitation against the controversial Class VII Social Science textbook is yet to conclude. The Catholic Church, which had recently given a call for its faithful to have as many children as possible to sustain its falling population rate, has already begun preparations to resist the move.

The recommendations for population control, of which the draft has already been drawn up by the law reforms committee headed by Justice VR Krishna Iyer, call for legal provisions to ban giving birth to more than two children per couples. The commission calls for propagation of family planning measures in a bid to control population.

The suggestions of the committee include imposition of fine on couples begetting more than two children. A fine of Rs 10,000 should be imposed on the couples for every child they beget after the second child. Also, such children should not be given education or other social benefits, the committee says. At the same time, it wants the Government to give all possible assistances to the first two kids.

In the particular context of the Church’s call for having more children than two, the committee also wants the Government to prohibit the efforts to promote begetting and rearing more children than two per couple on the basis of community, religion, class, caste or region. The committee has finalised the draft of the recommendations for enacting legislation named Kerala Family Planning and Birth Control Act.

Reacting to the reports about the recommendations of the committee, a senior official of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC), which had in a meeting last month asked its laity to beget as many children as possible to save the falling Christian population, said they would launch an agitation, “even stronger than the one against the textbook”, against the “atheist’s move to control religions and belief by controlling the population”.

He said, “When we suspected a move on the part of the Communists to destroy the church, many secularists did not listen to it. This (reported) recommendation of the law (reforms) committee makes it amply clear that the Communists’ goal is total destruction of religions. We cannot allow this.”

He, however, added that the Church was yet to know the details of the recommendations. Sources in several Muslim organisations refused to comment on the matter. A member of the law reforms committee refused to confirm or deny the reports about the draft recommendations which allegedly included those for birth control and family planning. “The committee’s report would be presented to the Government, most probably, in August. All will know about it then,” he said.

In Kerala, the Hindus constitute 55 per cent of the total population, while Muslims form 24.7 per cent. The Christians constitute 19 per cent or less. The larger family concept is being mooted by the Church in the context of the fall in the population growth at a rate of -0.40 per cent a decade. Sources in the Church said that the Hindus in the State also should view the situation seriously as their rate of fall of population growth, at 1.55 per cent a decade, was far more critical in the context of a growth in the Muslim population at a rate of 1.75 per cent in ten years.

The law reforms panel would also recommend regular awareness campaigns on family planning methods in the rural areas. It also wants distribution of contraceptives and other family planning implements through hospitals and community and primary health centres.

The committee has drawn up the recommendations because there are no comprehensive and effective laws to control population growth. The panel holds that certain communities are trying to grab several benefits through collective efforts using the population size as strength thus leading the collapse of the financial system of the State.

The law reforms committee feels that the Opposition parties need not have any objection to the move – unlike in the case of the textbook – as population control is accepted justice among the political parties.

It thinks that the main Opposition party, Congress, which is spearheading the anti-textbook struggle, will not be able to oppose the move as it was its leaders like late Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi who had laid the foundations for the family planning movement in the country.

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