There is need for more careful planning if the Assam government is serious about its population policy that will hinge on its two-child norm. The main reason for this is that the demographic change to the State of Assam has gone along certain pre-determined ways where the architects of demographic change have been the large number of illegal migrants who have made the State their own home State and become the majority in nine or ten districts of the State. As such, even if we do put in place a population policy at this point of time, it will have a limited effect on the people from other countries who are already in Assam. And these people have already stated their unwillingness to abide by any population policy that the State government now wishes to implement. The two-child policy makes a lot of sense for a State that has already seen a growth of one crore in the State’s population in a matter of just a decade. However, it is a policy that must be accepted by all sections of the State’s population in order to become a viable one. The government has also taken into consideration the possibilities (in some cases) of the second birth being twins or triplets. It has said that the two-child norm would be relaxed in such cases.
What must be accepted as the guiding principle of the population policy is that the policy is expected to work on the principle of disincentives rather than on incentives. The policy is expected to work by denying people certain privileges or rights if they have more than two children. They would be denied the right to apply for government jobs if they have more than two children. They would also forfeit the right to contest elections if they have more than two children. The question is whether the State government would be able to enforce the new population policy without too much coercion. In any case, the implementation of the policy would be limited to those in government service and to legislators. A large part of the State’s population comprises those who are neither government employees nor legislators. Thus it has now become a case of just one small part of the State’s population being guided by the population policy or the two-child norm. The greater part of the population (including the illegal migrants) would remain untouched by the population policy.