Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Kerala: Left, Right and two steps backwards

Kerala has made stunning progress in the fields of literacy and population control. These were achieved through awareness programs and not by coercion. In both fields, the projects have reached self sustaining levels, a pattern where the vast majority of the people pursue the objectives automatically. The current situation is that many schools do not have sufficient students as a result of the family planning program, and face closure.

The Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) recently threw a spanner into the works by asking its flock to beget more children to arrest the decline in the Catholic population. One is reminded of the Nazis directing Aryan women to produce as many children as possible to increase the number of true Aryans in Germany. The Church, of course, can argue that it was always against birth control except through restraint.

Almost on the heels of this came the recommendations of the Kerala Law Reforms Commission headed by Justice VR Krishna Iyer that opened up a new controversy. Justice Krishna Iyer, it may be recalled, was a member of Kerala’s first Communist Ministry and held important portfolios. Subsequently he was a Supreme Court Judge (1973-1980). He claims that he was never a Communist but only shared ‘socialist dimensions’ with them.

The Kerala Law Reforms Commission has recommended that a fine of Rs.10000 be imposed on couples with three or more children, along with other severe measures to ensure more effective birth control among the people. In Communist countries, which are usually called People’s Democratic Republics, such steps may go unchallenged. But India is a thriving democracy with a Constitution that ensures Fundamental Rights to its citizens

KCBC was, understandably, among the first to react. It claims that the Law Commission recommendations, if enacted, would infringe on the fundamental rights of the citizens. The Bishops’ organization goes on to say that it stands for responsible parenthood, which means that couples should decide on the size of the family based on their health and financial capabilities. Muslim groups also have protested vehemently against the Law Commission’s views.

I, a person with no formal law education, too feel that the recommendations would infringe on fundamental rights if they are made enforceable. Also, a question that comes to mind is what would be the legal implication if a person denies conjugal rights to his/her spouse in the name of State ordained birth control.


Also see Kerala: Left with empty granaries


Anonymous said...

I've been an avid reader of your blogs ever since 2007. Your views of family planning is surprising, if not shocking. Surely you understand that the biggest problem still in India is population explosion which needs to be controlled for sustained economic growth? You must be aware of the population control Bill of 2002 & supreme Court judgement(Aug-03) on 2 child norm? Besides, I fail to understand the connection between denial of conjugal rights to women who already have 2 kids. Shocking too- that there are no other comments to this blog!

Abraham Tharakan said...

First of all let me thank you for following my blog regularly.

Regarding your comment: perhaps my post lacked sufficient clarity. I was being Kerala specific because the recommendation for couples having more than 2 children came from the Kerala Law Reforms Commission.

The State has been having a very successful birth control program. The suggestions by the Catholic Church and the Commission, in my opinion, are unwarranted.

Nebu said...

“Go forth and …. Multiply” is one call by the Bishop’s that the faithful has so far ignored and is sure to disobey. Small family norm is not due to anything else but expediency that Keralites has dutifully adhered to. More than ever before, in the Catholic community the landed gentry dread the bifurcation of their agricultural holdings. So, curiously two daughters are more welcome than two sons. The State can rest, assured that the call by the Bishops on this count will be ignored in Toto.

Abraham Tharakan said...

I agree, Nebu. The Bishops' call would be ignored.

Anonymous said...

According to 2003's population statistics kerala is dying state that means the population growth rate of kerala is less than 2.By the effect of this in 2050 number of old people in kerala will be higher ,now days china is facing this problem Bcz of their birth control methods so chasse government has changed there control policy.............
In India population is not a problem but blessing.....
"The most powerful resource on earth is the ignited young mind and we believe that it should be empowered with adeaquate knowledge and leadership qualities to make the Developed India dream - A REALITY" - Dr.Kalam