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population



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Administrative Note:
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Week's Agenda: Population
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As the original contrarion on this topic, let me offer this:

Controlling the population by force is not something that I would 
support, and you have no quarrel with me on that. My position was 
entirely devoted to a different question, one that we deferred although 
I do not know why. I pointed out right when we were discussing the 
manifesto that it is important in any social organization to decide who 
the members are and what fairness within the society to such members 
means. In short, before we can say that something is fair/just in our 
society, we must agree on a basis for deciding both (a) who WE are, and 
(b) what FAIR means.

We are not a homgeneous nation, God knows even concentrated homogeneity 
(as in linguistic groups) is ridden with factionalism of all sorts. 
Whether this is ideal is another matter, but our drafts must take some 
realities into account. Differences of opinion will exist even in 
homogeneous societies. We need a rule to decide that these can be 
resolved fairly, which is why we need to define what is FAIR. Population 
just happens to be the first example that has come up, I could have made 
this argument with many others.

Consider this. A,B and C live in the same society. They decide that 
doing something is good, and resolve to do it. C is very successful, and 
does the job fairly well. A and B are either less committed or less 
successful, and don't do as well. Nevertheless some fruits are borne 
from C's good efforts. Now comes the time to share the goodies. A and B 
propose sharing equally. C protests, arguing that his good efforts have 
not been matched with similar ones from the other two. What's worse, he 
does not see A and B even trying to make good on their promise to work 
with C on the agreed project. 

Several questions arise from this, but for those who do not see 
population control as implicity related to fairness in social 
organization, I will pose this question - how might we resolve the above 
situation so that it is FAIR to C? 

Keep in mind two things - (a) it is our willingness to work together for 
one society that keeps us together, this is the main reason why 
resolution must be fair. If C begins to see such social organization as 
unfair to him, he might lose the inclination to remain part of the 
social organization. (b) Democracies function not on the strength of 
majority opinion, but on the safeguards on the interests of minorities 
with dissenting views. Merely "voting" out dissent is not helpful, it 
only fosters separation. 

I would not argue that some states which have fared poorly in population 
control should be obliged to bring down the rate of growth. Whether they 
choose that path or not is irrelevent to those who do not reside there. 
But once we have agreed that population control is a good thing, we are 
obliged to act consistent with it. At the onset of delimitation, the 
states agreed that disparities in population growth would hurt states 
that were working to bring their populations down, and on that 
principle, representation in the Lok Sabha has been frozen on the basis 
of the 1971 census. Every state, per that agreement and consistent with 
basic economic sense, is bound to attempt some control of runaway growth 
in population. 

There is, to my mind, some resolution of the conflict, which comes from 
that most basic element in social organization - politics. Delimitation 
can be discontinued if (a) states with high growth rates enact programs 
to keep their population down (b) large states are broken down into more 
manageable units. (c) any other concessions consistent with the original 
objective. 

Some might view these as coercive and object to that, but the truth is 
that states which have controlled the rates of population growth view 
the one-person-one-vote ideas as coercive. Worse still, to the original 
dissent I put forward, high-growth states are seen as reneging on the 
original commitment, which is seen in low-growth states as UNFAIR. 

Further complicating this problem is the geography of this distribution 
in India, and the history of southern separatism. I'm no separatist, but 
I want to build a fair society regardless of the individuals to whom 
such consideration is applied. And I'm open to fair resolutions of such 
conflict in specific areas in the interest of preserving my commitment 
to the whole.

If my state (Karnataka) were to lose seats in Parliament when 
delimitation expires in two years, I will feel cheated by legislators 
from other states. Other states, like TN and Kerala, which have been 
even more successful in reducing population growth, are just as likely 
to be full of people with similar opinions. Naidu has already stated his 
opposition to any revision of the status quo. It won't pass without 
acrimony, I'm afraid.

Sanjeev, I ask that you put back the parts of the manifesto you objected 
to as being long and over-worded. Those words formed a perfectly good 
basis for my point of view, which I have now brought forward as a 
legitimate concern. Perhaps when the ideas of membership and fairness 
are resolved to our mutual satisfaction, we can put up a compromise 
version. I regret the long-windedness of that version, but it has its 
virtues. The law is full of specifics, and perhaps someone else can 
state them more succintly later.

I can imagine that this line of thinking might offend some. May I remind 
such persons that we have vested each other with the absolute right to 
dissent from any opinion, while at the same time I maintain that to the 
extent the dispute is not resolved, all persons, including myself, 
remain obliged to maintain existing arrangements. This is consistent 
with the methods we set up for resolving differences.

Ash

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