Pune: Claiming to be an 'apolitical' and 'social' body, the Sudarshan Rashtra Nirman Trust is taking out a 'Maharathyatra' from Kashmir to Kanyakumari to Delhi, which will reach Pune on March 29.
The agenda of the yatra is to demand a law to regulate population, as imbalanced population growth poses a threat to the country. The proposed idea is to take away voting and citizens rights of couples with more than two children.
At the press conference organised by the Trust in the city on Tuesday, the organisers said that in earlier attempts at population control, only Hindus followed the control policy. "In 1977, when Sanjay Gandhi had led a campaign under which 70 lakh families were forced to undergo sterilisation, there was strong opposition to it," said Prakash Joshi, adding, "Only Hindus followed the Hum Do Humare Do policy, we want it to become Hum Do, Humare Do, Sabke Do."
"When our yatra was passing through Kerala and Hyderabad, we were denied permissions multiple times, saying that those were 'sensitive areas'. These areas had a high Muslim population," said Sanjay Pardeshi, convener of the Yatra.
The organisers mentioned repeatedly that increasing Muslim population is a cause of concern and a threat to the nation. "China had realised the threat of population and introduced a law for population control."
When asked what is the logic behind presenting a supposed increase in Muslim population as a 'threat to the nation', Pardeshi said that increasing Muslim population meant that they will be a strong voter group. "Muslims vote as a vote bank. Their population will be more than the Hindus in the 2030s. This means that 'we' will get fewer votes," Pardeshi said, adding, "There might be a Muslim Prime Minister one day."
Discriminatory view of citizenship
Experts said that such a view of citizenship is not only unconstitutional but discriminatory. "If one considers the constitution, citizenship is granted on the basis of residence, birth or marriage, to base it on population is illogical," said Priyadarshi Telang, a jurist and lawyer, adding, "There is no provision to take away voting rights of any citizen. Universal Adult Franchise is the operating principle of our democracy."
Telang said that the situation of Muslims is far from being one to bypass the Hindus. "Muslims are a prominent section of the Indian society. Even then, their representation in the legislature is minimal. First the BJP, and now even the Congress, are adopting a policy to avoid Muslim candidates," he said, adding, "Even Rajya Sabha has seen minimal Muslim candidates, even though there have been great personalities from the Muslim community too."
Not the right way for population control
Shruti Tambe, a professor of sociology, said that this is not the right way to look at population control. "China had earlier attempted this policy. Communist policies, which are otherwise unwelcome here, are being imitated in such a demand. This policy of communist China failed, as people stopped registering the second child," Tambe said. She added, "China had to accept these unregistered children finally in 2016."
"Sociologically, according to many population studies and statistics, once poverty is reduced and there is an assurance of safety and security of resources, it has been observed that population growth falls considerably," said Tambe, adding, "A primary health care policy and awareness would be a much better population control than a intrusive law."