The state government of Sikkim has announced a scheme to provide advance and additional increments to its employees with two or three children, effective from January 1, 2023. The move aims to boost the population of indigenous communities in the state, which has the lowest Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in the country at 1.1. The benefits of the scheme will not be applicable in the case of adoption.
Employees possessing Sikkim Subject Certificate/Certificate of Identification will receive one advanced increment for having two surviving children, while those with three surviving children will get one additional increment. The scheme will be retrospective from January 1, 2023, and only employees whose second and third child is born on or after that date will be eligible for the scheme. The Department of Personnel Secretary has clarified that either spouse can claim for the advance increment on mutual understanding.
This scheme comes four months after Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang pledged to provide incentives to address the low fertility rate among local indigenous people in the state. He expressed concern at the declining population of the indigenous Lepcha, Bhatia, and Nepalis communities and stated that the government is committed to taking whatever measures are required to increase the numbers of the local people.
Sikkim is the least populous state in India, with a population of around seven lakh people. The government’s initiative to offer financial incentives to state employees is a step towards reversing the low fertility rate among the indigenous population. The move may encourage employees to have more children, which could lead to an increase in the population of indigenous communities in the state.
However, the scheme has also raised concerns about the government’s interference in individuals’ personal choices regarding family planning. Critics argue that the government should focus on creating an enabling environment for individuals to make informed choices regarding family planning and reproductive health, rather than offering financial incentives for having more children.
In conclusion, while the government’s scheme to offer incentives to state employees is aimed at boosting the population of indigenous communities in Sikkim, it has also sparked a debate about individual choices and the government’s role in family planning. The government may need to strike a balance between incentivizing individuals and respecting their personal choices regarding family planning to address the low fertility rate in the state.