Aizawl: In an attempt to encourage population growth among the demographically small Mizo communities, a Mizoram minister has announced a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh to the parents who have the highest number of children in his Assembly constituency.
"It was my announcement on Father's Day (Sunday). The prize money would be sponsored by the NECS (North East Consultancy Services). Mizoram has a population density of only 52 persons per sq km, whereas the national average is 382 persons per sq km," said Mizoram's Sports, Youth Affairs and Tourism Minister Robert Romawia Royte, who was elected to the 40-member state Assembly from the Aizawl East-2 constituency.
"Lesser population is a very serious matter and a major impediment for small communities or tribes to survive and progress," said Royte, who had joined the ruling Mizo National Front before the 2018 Assembly elections.
However, the Minister did not mention the minimum or a maximum number of children a parent must have to get the award.
Royte has also advocated for a flexible population policy in India.
"India, being diversified in various aspects, should have a diversified and flexible population policy. Glaring differences in population density in different parts of India is clear proof of the need for such a policy"
"The infertility rate and the declining growth rate of the Mizo population has been a serious concern for many years. Mizoram is far below the optimum number of people to attain development in various fields because of the gradual decrease in its population" he added.
The minister has also encouraged women to participate in various sporting activities while suggesting that some churches and influential civil society organisations, including the Young Mizo Association (YMA), are advocating a 'baby boom' policy to encourage population growth.
Royte, who is the owner of Aizawl Football Club (AFC)is a leading organiser of sporting events in the region. Under him, sports was accorded industry status in Mizoram last year with an aim to further bolster sporting activities by attracting investment.
Mizoram is the also first state in India to declare sports as an industry to generate employment in the state.