Sunday, July 27, 2008

How many children should I have?

Today's Mangalam newspaper carries a report that the V.R. Krishna Iyer committee for legal reforms has recommended that there should be a law that limits children to two per family. If a third child is born, then the parents would have to pay a fine of Rs. 10,000. I thought this is absurd and could lead to problems like infanticide. But the committee also suggests that certain facilities like free education should be withheld for the child. I am generally in favour of this although the child will feel discriminated agains. But it seems there are people who are totally opposed to any such suggestions. One such response was that people should be free to decide how many children they want and such laws shouldn't even be dreamt of. I cannot agree with that view.

Free Society does not really mean that everybody is free to do what they want. No society can survive that way. When there are issues that the society faces as a unit, every member may have to make compromises. We as a people are very irresponsible, putting all responsibility on the government while claiming all benefits that are supposed to come to us. When we have more children, we simply assume that the government will provide for them. We may say that it is not the government who provides for *my* children. Think again. The water to drink, electricity, space on the road for travelling, parking space, medical care, education---a lot of things are provided by the government. I may provide only money, and that too from the salary I get, which again could be mediated by the government (government job, for instance). So long as we live in a society, we have to respond to the needs of society and abide by the laws that the society implements from time to time. We can, of course, examine the laws and express our opinions. But what is decided finally will have to be followed. And the government is only a group of people whom society has entrusted the job of running the society. That is what we call democracy.

I don't support the idea of punishing people who have more than two children. But withholding benefits from the third child is, I think, one way of promoting the idea of two children per family. I have nothing against it. Everyone knows that these are the consequences. If they still go ahead with a third child, well, they should face the consequences. We all know that the world itself is over-populated. Unless we bring down human population, there is going to be a catastrophe. Money we can print as much as we want, but not resources. Resources are limited and we are depleting them one by one. Unless we are very careful, we could soon be looking at the end of the world.


Ajith said...

More than 2 kids in a family is extremely rare nowadays, considering the fact that inflation is sky rocketing. I will not be surprised if couples decides to stop with one kid. I understand your point regarding government interfering in someone's personal choice. However, I think we can ignore it because this will hardly make any difference in educated couples, who will not go beyond 2 kids for sure.Exceptional people like Suresh Gopi can definitely pay up 10,000 which will not make any substantial change in his wealth :)

My point here is this will not make any change to normal people's life, however it can make a huge difference in lower sections of the society. So I am welcoming this Law.

Bindhu said...

I thought laws that deny free education, etc, for the third onwards are already there, atleast for government servants. Long back I read about a law being considered that prevents people with more than 2 kids from contesting an election. Not sure it exists.

As you rightly said, people shoud not expect society/government to take care of their children. Have kids only if you can take care of their needs. Why bring an innocent life to this already over-burdened earth and let it suffer?

Anamika said...

Am surely for it, the 2-child plan, but again not sure if it should be by taking benefits off third child. Cause chances are that child will grow up devoid of education as a whole, as far as poor or lower middle class families are concerned. Well for that matter cant think of anything at the moment. Guess self-awareness programs never proved any good?

ചാരുലത said...

'development is the best contraceptive' is a often repeated usage. this is true for the marginalised section of the society. but as for people like Suresh Gopi there should be some other reasons.

K.M.Venugopalan said...

My wholesome support to Mr.Sasikumar's view here;
Informed choice ought to be the rule.
The government has no business to penalize people for going for more number of offspring s. It is really unfortunate that the proposal for imposing penalties on parents as well as their innocent 3rd (and the subsequent) children came from a Committee headed by Justice Krishna Iyyer.
This reminds one of the ugly logic of eugenics,propagated by the racist white elites of the 1920s.
Population control is not to be seen as a panacea for every crisis/ill in a world, where the majority of its resources are controlled by very few people and the rest are left to be objects of desperate conflicts by the poor and the rich alike, for gaining access/control over a greater part of them. While the poor do so out of need,the rich are motivated by hate and greed,and the agenda is invariably set by the latter.
Actually,the Third World should reject the theory that the ills of humans are caused by the pressure of population. On the contrary, we should be able to tell the less populated and 'developed' North to stop talking nonsense about the so called 'threat' of population;
to stop making wars and causing genocides ;
to stop looting, plundering,manipulating ,and squandering those limited and precious resources, which, otherwise could have been capable of making the entire global population happy.. If at all the world were re-ordered in a peaceful way which would penalize the propagation and practice of greed and hate,rather than penalizing procreation by humans of their next generations..