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Upananda Brahmachari | HENB | Guwahati | Jan 25, 2017:: Taking a plea that there is no law in India which recognises Friday as a general holiday, the BJP run Assam Govt earlier cancelled holidays in State run Madrasas on Friday+ as applied by the Congress Govt there.
Though allowed one-hour break on Friday for Namaz in such Madrasas, the Govt cancelled the Islamic imposition of one month vacation during Ramadan.
Now, in its second significant move to end the alleged Muslim appeasement in Indian politics, the Assam Govt is finding a process to put a control upon the Muslim population in the mainstream life. Like China, the concerned Govt is thinking its own population control policy so that the unchecked growth of population including Muslim population can’t make a hindrance to the economic planning of Assam anyway.
In order to bring a legislation for such a population control in the state, the Govt has decided to bring forth a population control policy with the provisions where more than two children may disqualify for any Govt help or even losing a Govt job.
If the matters go as planned, the draft bill may come up in the month of March (Budget session) in the assembly in its ambiance restricting two children per able couple (two children for a single Muslim married man) as proposed.
As per report, this bill also includes the provisions of disqualification for being a candidate for contesting in any election whether it is a seat of Gram Panchayat, Municipal bodies or state assembly.
According to the state government, the decision has been taken keeping in mind “Assam’s unique social, economic, ethnic and geographical diversity”. The senior commentators and political experts in the state have termed it a policy aimed at mainly addressing the rising population of the Bengali-speaking Muslim migrants residing in the chars or sand bars of Brahmaputra.
“The proposed policy is obviously meant to target people in the whole of Assam. But, to put it bluntly, the state government must be concerned about the large family sizes among the Muslim community of migrant origin who are mostly concentrated in the chars or the sandbars in the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. The districts where people of this community are largely settled for decades now are Barpeta, Dhubri, Goalpara, Darrang, Bongaigaon, Hailakandi, and Nagaon,” wrote senior journalist Wasbir Hussain in an article in the Guwahati-based daily The Sentinel.
As per the 2011 Census, Assam registered the highest rise in Muslim population, from 30.9% of the state’s three crore population in 2001 to 34.2% in 2011. Nine districts+ (Barpeta, Dhubri, Karimganj, Goalpara, Hailakandi and Nagaon, Darrang, Bongaigaon and Morigaon) have been declared Muslim majority, out of which three – Darrang, Bongaigaon and Morigaon – were not so as per 2001 census.
The growth of Muslims some other dists is also alarming with a significant share of Muslims as Cachar (6.5 lakh against 10.3 lakh Hindus), Kamrup (6.01 lakh Muslims against 8.77 Hindus) and Nalbari (2.77 lakh Muslims against 4.91 lakh Hindus).
The 2011 census report has made Assam the second most Muslim populated state in the country after Jammu and Kashmir (68.3%).
Assam is also the state with one of the highest maternal mortality rates (MMR) in the country. Against the national average of 42 per 1000 children, the rate of MMR in Assam is 55 per 1000. Many cases of MMR are regularly reported from the char areas, where there is abject poverty and no basic facilities like healthcare and educational institutions. Typically, girls are married off earlier than their legal age, thus exposing them to poor reproductive rights. Boys too, are married before 21. As per journalist Wasbir Hussain, “A study conducted in the chars of Kamrup and Barpeta districts showed the fertility rate in these areas was 4.56% compared to 2.4 in Assam as a whole.” (Source: The Sentinel).
Local media reports quoting members of the committee constituted by the state government to tailor the policy said “different quarters” felt Assam needed a separate policy to follow instead of the National Population Policy 2000, which it follows presently. Ilias Ali, a member of Population Control committee told +The Telegraph, “The greater vision of the separate population policy is maintaining a sustainable economy for all by arresting the population explosion.”
Besides denying government jobs to those with more than two children, there will be incentives for those employees who limit the number of their children to two. Maternity and child care leave will be denied to women employees if they go for the third child.
Though the committee members do not directly talk about addressing population growth, particularly in the char areas, they, however, say that the policy will mainly aim at empowering poor women through education and employment opportunities including forming self-help groups to make them financially independent. They say colleges and other education institutions have been planned in all the 34 districts exclusively for women. Many Muslim women in the char areas are not allowed by their families to attend schools and colleges attended by boys.
“Once a majority of women become educated and financially independent, the outlook of a large section, especially in rural areas to use women only to give birth, can be changed,” Ali said.
“Thirty-two percent males and 23% females get married in Assam before reaching their legal marriageable ages, which is being looked at as one of the main contributing factors to population explosion in the state,” he added. Under the proposed policy, the government plan to “strictly enforce” the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, which stipulates that a boy can marry at 21 years and girls at 18.
The finance minister of Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma, however, told local media recently, “The state government doesn’t intend to force anyone to follow the two-child norm but to request every concerned citizen for an implement of the good policy.”
As the present BJP Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has good majority support in the floor of assembly (BJP 60+ AGP 14 + BPF 12 out of 126 seats), it would not be a problem to pass the bill for population policy, if presented actually.
So far, Rajasthan is the only state+ which has a separate population policy, introduced in 1999.
As a Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi had, in 2005-06, brought in amendments to law, disqualifying anyone with more than two children from contesting elections to bodies of local self-government+ — panchayats, municipalities and municipal corporations.
When the Union Govt of India is considering an Uniform Civil Code in India at present, that must include a mandatory provision of maintaining a part of family control by every citizen so that an explosion of population is to be checked in India.
Courtesy to a pic of Reuters and the source links as shown+ above.