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Week's Agenda: Population
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
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
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.
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