Yoga guru Baba Ramdev has said that in order to control population growth, the government should bring in a law which would take away voting rights and government facilities of the third born child in a family. He claimed, “India’s population should not be more than 150 crores in the next 50 years as we are not prepared or ready to bear more than that. This is only possible when the government makes a law that a third child would not be allowed to vote, neither contest election nor he or she enjoys any type of privileges and facilities given by the government. Then people will not give birth to more children, no matter which religion they belong to.” Is taking away someone’s right to vote the correct solution to our problem of overpopulation? In our country, 33 percent of people chose not to vote in the recently concluded general elections. Would such people care much about losing their right to vote? Does every person hold aspirations of fighting elections?

SOME TAKEAWAYS:

  • Baba Ramdev says that the government should take away voting and other rights of every third born child.
  • He says it will be an effective way of controlling India’s population.
  • Why should the children pay for their parent’s mistakes?
  • The decision to have only two kids should stem from choice and not force. 

In our country, 33 percent of people chose not to vote in the recently concluded general elections. Would such people care much about losing their right to vote?

Ramdev’s concern regarding overpopulation in India is not misplaced. At 133 crores currently, India may soon surpass China as the world’s most populated country. India is indeed looking at a mass crisis marked by a shortage of resources, dearth of jobs and billions of mouths to feed. Apart from pollution, overpopulation should be a critical issue, high on the priority list of our state and central governments, and the citizens of this country. But the solution lies with creating awareness and incentivising family planning further, than punishing people.

While it would indeed break the nation’s back, we can’t ban people from having more kids than two, as it would take away their reproductive rights. The decision to have two or less children should be a choice. If we force it on people, it could lead to disastrous consequences, especially in a patriarchal society like ours. It could skewer the gender ratio in our country further. It could lead to rise in female foeticide, illegal gender detection procedures and impede all the labour we have put in since past few decades to ensure that baby girls do not get terminated prematurely or disposed off in dumpsters. If orthodox parents want a boy and they only have two chances to get it right, wouldn’t it motivate them to resort to catastrophic measures?

While it would indeed break the nation’s back, we can’t ban people from having more kids than two, as it would take away their reproductive rights.

The change we need is in mind-set and it is a slow and gradual process, whether we like it or not. While we will have to endure the consequences of not putting in more effort to make people realise how overpopulation will affect both their future generations and this country, it isn’t too late. Implementing a ban will be unfair to those who are third children of their parents, to no fault of their own. They never asked to be brought into this world, then why must they bear the consequences of their parent’s actions?

Ramdev’s argument speaks of urgency which is understandable, but the ways he is suggesting may leave a negative impact on the society. Fear is a reckless incentive, as it could lead to results we may not want to incur. The damage done may be too much too soon.

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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