Pankaj Sharma and Ajay Vaishnav/Zee Research Group
Do our politicians have the gumption to practice what they preach in public? Take for example India’s population control policy, which was incepted in 1952 and made the country first nation in the world to formulate such a policy. Since then, our politicians from Indira Gandhi to Manmohan Singh have repeatedly stressed the importance of a small family and the need to rein in population explosion.
In recent years, barring Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, no one has raised their voice against rising population in the country. In 2009, Azad courted controversy by suggesting people to either marry late or spend more time watching late night TV shows to practice abstinence. Similarly, Prime Minister Singh has talked about the advantages of small family. Speaking at a meeting at the National Commission on Population in October 2010, Singh called for “a holistic approach to deal with this issue”.
In fact, population control campaigns like “Hum do, hamare do” became an instant hit with the commoners. But, has it worked in the case of our rulers? Not much! A Zee Research Group analysis of the incumbent Council of Ministers shows that more than one-third of the current ministers have more than two children.
Leading the chart, Union Cabinet Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, Beni Prasad Verma, KH Muniappa and Namo Narain Meena have five children each in their family. Following these four, seven ministers including Veerappa Moily, Farooq Abdullah, Praful Patel, Salman Khurshid, Sisir Kumar Adhikari, Vincent H Pala and Charan Das Mahant have four children each.
However, 15 ministers come under the category of those people who have three children in their family. This list includes heavy weights like Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Jaipal Reddy, Ajit Singh and Sriprakash Jaiswal. Clearly, family control campaign like “Hum do, hamare do” (one family, two children) launched since 1970s during Indira Gandhi’s regime hasn’t applied or failed to inspire our ministers.
The silver lining, however, is that a substantial number of politicians in the current council of ministers do not have more than two children each. In fact, a total of 24 Union ministers have two children, while 15 have just one child. In the current government, 11 ministers don’t have any children.
Of late, demands are being raised from various quarters to raise the bar by political parties to improve the quality of politicians. One such interesting but highly debatable suggestion is to deny party tickets to politicians with more than two children. Can our political parties take the call?