In a bid to encourage a “baby boom,” advocated by Mizoram’s churches and civil society organisations, the state’s sports minister Robert Romawia Royte, on Tuesday, distributed Rs 2.5 lakh and mementoes to 17 parents boasting of having the highest number of children in his constituency of Aizawl East-II.
Royte, who is locally known as "RRR", had earlier on Father’s Day in June, announced cash incentive of Rs 1 lakh to living parents with the highest number of children within his constituency to encourage population growth among the demographically small Mizo communities. The Minister gave away the ‘first prize’ carrying a cash reward of Rs 1 lakh and a citation to Ngurauvi, a widow from Tuithiang locality, who bore 15 children, including 7 sons.
Lianthangi, another widow from Chhinga Veng locality who has 13 children, bagged the second prize which carried Rs 30,000 and a citation. Two women and a man, who have 12 children each, were awarded the third prize carrying Rs 20,000 each and citations.
Besides, 12 parents, who have eight children each, were given consolation prizes of Rs 5,000 each and citations.
INFERTILITY RATE A CONCERN?
Speaking to PTI, Royte claimed the infertility rate and the decreasing growth rate of Mizo population have become a serious concern.
However, census figures show that in 2011 the state's population stood at 10.97 lakh, an increase of 23.48 per cent over the previous census held in 2001. Mizoram's population had last boomed in the period 1971-1981 when the decadal growth had hit a high of 48.55 per cent and seen the population touching nearly half a million people.
TWO-CHILD POLICY UNACCEPTABLE: MINISTER
The minister justifying his stand said that Mizoram is far below the optimum number of people to attain development in various fields.
"It is unacceptable and illogical to follow a two-child norm in a state like Mizoram where the density of population is only 52 persons per square kilometre against over 600 persons in other states," he told PTI.
Some states like Assam and Uttar Pradesh have however announced a two-child norm policy in order to curb population growth.
He said Mizoram has a population density of 52 persons per square kilometre and it needs at least 94 plus persons per square kilometre to compete with the national average. Some 87 per cent of Mizoram’s population is of indigenous Mizo tribals.
The low population figures here suggest that a uniform norm for the whole nation is detrimental to certain regions and communities," he said.
MIZORAM'S POPULATION DENSITY
Royte also extended support to the ongoing campaign of supporting population growth launched by certain church denominations and Young Mizo Association YMA in the state.
"Let the two- child norm be applied to states where the density of population is above the national average. The Government of India should review its uniform 2-child norm and restrict it to high population density states only," he said.
With only 52 persons per square kilometre, Mizoram has the second-lowest population density in the country next to Arunachal Pradesh, which has a population density of 17 persons per square km. The national average is 382 persons per square kms.
CHURCH ENCOURAGES 'BABY BOOM'
The Central Committee of YMA and churches, including the larges denomination- Presbyterian church and Baptist church of Mizoram has been preaching a policy of encouraging `baby boom’.
Some local churches in the state had also paid out cash incentives to Mizo couples, who have more than three children, in the past.
Certain organisations like YMA and Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) have also alleged that growth of population among Chakma communities in the southern part of the state is increasing at an "alarming rate", which is solely compounded by “illegal influx” from Bangladesh.