Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat said on Wednesday that India should have a population policy drafted after comprehensive thought, and it should apply to all communities equally.
Bhagwat was speaking at a RSS Dussehra rally at the Reshimbagh Ground in Nagpur when he stressed the need for such a policy. According to him, community-based population imbalance is an important subject and should not be ignored.
It can lead to changes in geographical boundaries, he said. There must be a balance among the communities in this country, he added. “Alongside differences in birth rate, conversions by force, lure, or greed, and infiltration are also big reasons. All these factors must be considered,” he said.
Acclaimed mountaineer Santosh Yadav was the chief guest at the event. She is the first woman in the world to have climbed Mount Everest twice.
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“English not important for a career”
During his speech, Bhagwat also emphasised the need for education in mother tongue, adding that “English language is not important for building a career.” He said, “When expecting the government to promote mother tongue, we should also consider whether we sign our names in it, whether the nameplates stuck on our doors are in our mother tongue, whether we send out invitations in our mother tongue.”
He said an education policy that encourages teaching children in their mother tongue is highly reasonable. The government and administration are paying attention to it by way of the New Education Policy (NEP).
“But do parents want their children to be taught in their mother tongue? Or, by chasing financial gains and career goals—for which enterprise, courage, and intuitive knowledge are also required—do they want their wards to be in a blind rat race,” he questioned.
Bhagwat added that the NEP should lead to students becoming highly cultured and good human beings who are also inspired by patriotism. That is everyone’s desire. “But are the highly educated and intellectual parents aware of this overall objective of education when they send their children to schools and universities?” he wondered.
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“Education is not imparted only in classrooms. A home environment of ‘samskars’ (ethical conduct) and parental responsibilities influence social behaviours and discipline. Public figures and leaders, festivals, carnivals, social gatherings, etc., also play a major role. How much attention do we pay to that? Without these exposures, only school education cannot be effective,” Bhagwat said.
The population “burden”
Talking about the population policy, he gave the example of China’s one-child policy. Bhagwat said, “While we are trying to control the population, we should see what happened in China. That country went for the one-child policy and now its population is getting older.”
With 57 crore youth population in India, we will remain a young nation for the next 30 years, Bhagwat argued. “However, what will happen to India after 50 years? Will we have enough food to feed the population?” he added.
He also emphasized the need for people to start their own businesses and not rely on government jobs. “All government jobs put together, only 30 per cent of the population will be covered. The rest of the population must start their own businesses to create more employment,” he said.
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Bhagwat said emphasis on the need for society’s participation in every sphere of national life was not to relieve the government of its responsibilities, but rather, to emphasize societal partnership for national uplift and veer policymaking in that direction.
“Our country has a huge population. It is a reality. Nowadays, two kinds of evaluation are done on population. Populations require resources. If it keeps growing, it becomes a big burden—perhaps an unbearable burden,” he said. Therefore, plans are made with the perspective of population control.
Need for balance in population policy
However, in another dimension, population is considered an asset, he pointed out. “The focus is on appropriate training and optimal use (of the population),” Bhagwat said. “When we look at the world population, we may get one idea. But when we look at our country, those ideas may change,” he said before reminding that China has reversed its population-control policy to that of population growth.
“Our national interest influences our thoughts on population matters. Today, we are the youngest country. After 50 years, today’s youth will be the senior citizens. To look after them, how big should be our young population? We must do that math,” he explained.
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People make a country great with their effort. They also carry on their family lineage and that of society, he said. “To beget, preserve, and protect a populace, apart from being relevant for national identity and security, is a subject that touches some other facets also,” Bhagwat said.
He added that the number of children is linked with maternal health, education, financial status, and individual wish. It also depends on what each family needs. Population size impacts the environment, too.
Challenges of small families
“In 2000, the Centre framed a population policy after consultations with multiple stakeholders. One key goal was to obtain a total fertility rate (TFR) of 2.1. Recently, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) report has been published. Thanks to social awareness and constructive, co-operative efforts by the central and state governments, the TFR has come down below the targeted 2.1, to 2.0,” the RSS chief said.
“But social scientists and mental health experts believe that ultra-nuclear families are posing challenges for the all-around development of young girls and boys. Families are feeling a sense of insecurity, social tensions, and loneliness. A question mark hangs over the central edifice of our society—the family system,” he added.
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Bhagwat went on to add that another question of great importance was population imbalance. “Seventy-five years ago, we experienced it (population imbalance) in our country. In the 21st century, three new countries—East Timor, South Sudan, and Kosovo—have come into existence as a result of population imbalance in certain territories of Indonesia, Sudan, and Serbia, respectively,” he pointed out.
“In summation, the population policy must be formulated considering all these factors. It should apply to all. We need public awareness campaigns to create a mindset of total observance of this policy. Only then will rules pertaining to population control yield results,” he said.
(With agency inputs)