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India

Indian provincial minister rewards Christians with most children

Robert Romawia Royte says the decreasing growth rate of the Mizo population is a serious concern

Indian provincial minister rewards Christians with most children

Robert Romawia Royte, junior minister for sports and youth affairs in India's Mizoram state. (Photo: Twitter)

Concern for the declining population of Mizo people has led an Indian provincial minister in the northeastern state of Mizoram to award cash prizes to parents with the most number of children in his constituency.

Robert Romawia Royte, a junior minister for sports and youth affairs, reportedly distributed 250,000 rupees (US$3,330) to 17 parents in his Aizawl East-II constituency on Oct. 12. The cash prizes were meant to encourage parents to have more children as advocated by the state’s churches and civil society organizations, he told the media.

The top award of 100,000 rupees went to Ngurauvi, a widow who bore 15 children including seven sons, while another woman, Lianthangi, who has 13 children, was given a second prize of 30,000 rupees.

Royte had announced his intention to honor Mizo parents with the most number of children on Father’s Day in June 2021. “It is unacceptable to follow a two-child norm in my state where the density of population is only 52 persons per square kilometers against over 600 persons in other states,” he told the Press Trust of India.

The minister, a Christian, also extended his support to the ongoing campaign for promoting more children by churches and youth organizations belonging to various denominations in the state.

The federal government should review its uniform two-child norm for the entire nation and restrict it to densely populated states only, Royte suggested.

We try telling our people to have bigger families so that the population of Mizo Christians does not decline further

National census data for 2011 shows that Mizoram had a population of over one million, which was an increase of 23 percent from the previous census in 2000. The state’s population growth has been in decline since 1971-81 when it had peaked at 49 percent with over half a million people.

Mizo, a local term meaning highlanders, are indigenous groups whose homeland lies in the Mizo hills. Most are now Christian — predominantly Protestant — and have gained their own provincial state, Mizoram or land of the Mizos.

“We appreciate the minister’s initiative as churches of all denominations in the state are aware that the population of Mizo people is the lowest among the seven northeastern states,” Bishop Stephen Rotluanga of Aizawl told UCA News.

The prelate said there was nothing wrong in promoting bigger families as the declining number of Mizo people was a matter of concern. When compared with national figures, the growth of Mizos, as well as Christians in most parts of India, was clearly in decline, he added.

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The Presbyterian, Baptist and Catholic churches along with the Young Mizo Association (YMA) have been encouraging a baby boom in the state with a nearly 90 percent Christian population. Some local churches offer cash incentives to couples with more than three children.

“We try telling our people to have bigger families so that the population of Mizo Christians does not decline further,” Bishop Rotluanga said while referring to similar reports emerging from the southern state of Kerala, where the Church is encouraging people to have more babies to check the decline in its Christian population. 

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