- Ruata Lungchuang
The news of Mizoram's minister of State Robert Romawia Royte handing out incentives and mementoes to 17 parents boasting of having the highest number of children in his constituency of Aizawl East-II has been making rounds across media in India. It is part of Royte's initiative at trying to boost the low fertility rate in his constituency and Mizoram as a whole. But is this sustainable? Will this really bring a solution to the declining fertility rate of Mizoram? Are people incentive-driven in this regard?

To be honest, I find this kind of policy backward. You give someone an incentive for having the most children, a cash incentive that might cover a week expense of a typical large Aizawl family, now how is that going to help the family in the long run? If the family already is very large in size to begin with? You have to account for all the money and resources that would have to go into the raising of every child within the family, not just that of the last child whose birth enables them to receive the incentive.

I have always maintained that Mizoram needs no population larger than 20 lakhs. Our geography, land area and social structure just cannot handle a population boom. More population means greater divide between the rich and the poor, more power to religious institutions greater strain on the environment. Mizoram does not have a lower or higher middle-class subgroup. Unlike other states, the community is divided between the working class and the elite. Population boom will only create inequality in the long run and produce multiple classes of people, as we see in the mainland. Mainland's divide between its social class has been one of the long-lasting socio-economic problems that have persisted and prevent Indians from climbing up the social ladder. It is hard for a person in the lower-middle-class income group to catch up to the upper-middle class and vis-versa.

That being said, the fertility rate of Mizoram sinking so fast is indeed a cause for concern, in 2017, our fertility rate was above replacement level at 2.3 and then in 2019 it abruptly falls to 1.9, way below the replacement level. The fertility rate especially among the Mizo ethnic group is thought to be even lower compared to other ethnic groups like the Brus and the Chakmas. Considering that most Mizos in Mizoram live in urban areas, the total fertility rate among Urban Mizos is at 1.6, while that of rural Mizoram is at 2.2. Urban total fertility rate had already been dropping to below replacement level since the start of the decade and it continues to fall. There is a fear within the Mizo think tank that our population is not growing enough and that we could be sinking soon. The idea of a sinking Mizo population is not good for anyone, not for the state which is still so sparsely populated or for people of other ethnicities within the state as it would mean a major sink in the overall total population of the state.

Anyway, as for now, there seemed to be no clear cut solution to the supposed population crisis in Mizoram.

The Mizos

The Mizos is a one-man team news blog, that brings you news and stories from Mizoram, Northeast India and the rest of the World.

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