By Asees Bhasin:
In what appears to be amongst one of the most ludicrous manifestations of communal divide, the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Shiv Sena has offered Rs 21,000 in cash to each Hindu family having 10 or more children. This is in addition to a certificate felicitating these families for their effort in countering the ‘growing influence of other communities’.
Here are 5 reasons why this move does not make any sense:
1) The main reason people procreate and decide to spend hard earned economic resource on their children has very little to do with increasing numbers of their community. This makes even less sense when they belong to the majority religion, and I don’t believe this religion requires more followers or any proselytizing. It is very farfetched of the Shiv Sena to assume that those having a large family have done so as a part of Hindu propaganda. The mere symbolism of this act fails, as the citizens are being congratulated for an act they might not have intended to do.
2) This act has no purpose. It is a post facto act (as families before procreation didn’t know of this felicitation), which celebrates Hindu families defying all family planning initiatives. Even if the Shiv Sena would want to use this as an incentive, a mere sum of 21,000 rupees is not enough to sustain one child for a year. Besides, raising children requires caretaking, education and health supervision. It is very stupid to assume that any family would reproduce to receive this grant or a certificate.
3) In communally charged Uttar Pradesh, the Shiv Sena yet again tried to create disaccord between the two communities. Over the last few years, this area has witnessed gruesome Hindu- Muslim riots and communal disturbances. When aÂ statement is made, it might fuel Muslim fundamentalist groups and political parties to carry out similar propaganda, to attack these families and urge Muslims to carry out activities which spread their influence and assert their superiority.
4) India is the second most populated nation in the world. This overpopulation is accompanied with a large unemployment rate, inadequate health facilities and astute poverty. The government has constantly tried to run population sensitization agendas and programs. Instead of carrying forth this ideology, the Shiv Sena regrets Hindus getting vasectomies and tubectomies, and feels that making children is the need of the hour. They also refuse to tell us how an increasing strength in numbers will ensure a continual Hindu superiority.
5) There has been no reason to believe that the Hindu community is a dwindling one and requires more believers and followers. However, assuming that the Shiv Sena does want a strong and large Hindu community base, it would be more sensible to spend money to alleviate the status of the existing Hindus. The money wasted in awarding those with more than ten children can be used to help Hindus ravaged by the riots in U.P. There are many Hindus living below the poverty line and the infrastructure in schools and hospitals is sub standard. If the Shiv Sena would work towards making Hinduism and Hindus prosperous and healthy, not only would they be satisfied within their religion, but many other ‘religious fence sitters’ may convert to avail these benefits.
The Shiv Sena has made some terrible statements, but this one is amongst their worst. They’ve received flack from many political parties who accuse them of insulting democracy and undermining the effects of communal violence. Feminists believe that child birth is amongst the most painful processes and even 21 lakhs for ten children would be a small price to pay. People are alarmed with the propagation of population explosion. Anil Singh of the Shiv Sena, however, maintains that “We will appeal to Hindus that increasing our population is the need of the hour. If we will not, Hindus will become negligible in the country.”