After barring those with more than two children from government jobs and from contesting local elections, the Assam government proposes to extend its two-child policy for availing benefits under specific schemes funded by the state. “We will slowly implement population norms for government schemes… There are some schemes for which we cannot impose the two-child norm, like availing free admission in schools and colleges, or for houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana; everyone will get that,” Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said at a press conference.
“But, in the case of some schemes, say if a scheme like a Chief Minister Awas Yojana is launched in the future for the middle-class, then the two-child norm will be enforced. Similarly, population norms will gradually be put in place in the case of some chosen schemes,” he said.
According to a report, Sarma also criticised the Opposition for targeting the size of his parents’ family. Sarma belongs to a family of five brothers. “There is no point in talking about what our parents did or other people did in the 1970s. The Opposition is saying these strange things and pushing us back to the 70s,” he said.
Earlier this month, Sarma had faced criticism for his comment that “numerous social ills in Assam” could be overcome if the “immigrant Muslim community adopts decent family planning norms. For their poverty to end, Muslim women need to be educated, population needs to be controlled. I appeal to them to work together with us. We are there for all of you, to support women’s education and reduce poverty. But poverty will never be reduced unless you control your population,” he had said.
Sarma said AIUDF MP Badruddin Ajmal met him and expressed satisfaction at the importance being given to women’s education. A population policy is already in place in Assam. In 2019, the previous BJP government had decided that those with more than two children would not be eligible for government jobs from January 2021. This was a follow-up to a resolution passed by the Assembly in 2017 on the Population and Women Empowerment Policy of Assam.
This policy listed two key norms for government employment linked to population growth: Only candidates with two children or less will be eligible for government jobs; government servants shall strictly follow the two-child norm to serve as role models for society. Also, according to the Assam Panchayat (Amendment) Act, 2018, those contesting panchayat polls cannot have more than two children.