Why is Chandrababu Naidu asking people to have more children? | analysis | Hindustan Times
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Why is Chandrababu Naidu asking people to have more children?

It’s astonishing that the Andhra Pradesh chief minister cannot comprehend that more people will not automatically translate to fewer robots.

analysis Updated: Sep 11, 2017 12:31 IST
As the top-most functionary of the Andhra Pradesh government, by repeatedly pronouncing the need to have more children,
As the top-most functionary of the Andhra Pradesh government, by repeatedly pronouncing the need to have more children, (HT)

Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu has reasserted rather foolishly that people in the state should have more children in order to reduce the growing dependence on robots. Naidu has complained that educated couples today don’t want to have children as they consider this a burden.

When it comes to making politically incorrect statements on population growth, Naidu appears to be a serial offender. In 2015, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister said youngsters are not marrying early, and even if they did, they were not having children. After this, in 2016, he had targeted the rich for being content with one or no children. Not only do his string of statements go against the National Population policy which leaves the choice of number of children to individuals, they are all the more worrying coming from a chief minister who had initially positioned himself as a tech advocate and a progressive politician.

As the top functionary of the Andhra Pradesh government, by repeatedly pronouncing the need to have more children, Naidu is setting the wrong precedent. It is not the responsibility of the government to propagate the virtues of expanding one’s family to its citizens. The role of the State should be limited to providing good health facilities for pre-natal care, post-natal care and a healthy childhood, along with a basket of contraceptive choices. The national population policy states as one of its primary objectives achieving a stable population by 2045 at a level consistent with the requirements of sustainable economic growth, social development, and environment protection. If one goes by World Health Organization projections, India’s population is expected to reach 1.7 billion and surpass China’s within the next few years.

In a way, since in India the onus is always on the mother in the child-bearing process, Naidu’s statements can also be perceived as being anti-feminist. The comment comes days after the ‘Roving Robot’ that performs surgery with minimal interference from the surgeon did a tour in Andhra Pradesh’s hospitals. It’s astonishing that Naidu cannot quite comprehend that more people will not automatically translate to fewer robots. It is a well-known fact that before the end of this century, automation or robots will replace 70 % of today’s jobs. Naidu hasn’t bothered to talk about the government’s inability to create jobs for Andra Pradesh’ nearly 12 lakh unemployed youth.

Delivering on the promise of development takes more than just asking people to produce more children.