A Population Control Bill proposed in the Rajya Sabha by MP Rakesh Sinha last year is in the spotlight once again after Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai put forth an amendment to Article 47A of the Indian Constitution. This new bill advocates for a two-child policy in India in an attempt to manage the country’s booming population.
This is not the first time such a bill has been discussed in the Parliament; Union Minister Giriraj Singh first introduced the idea at a pro-CAA rally earlier this year, suggesting that an expanding population can be a liability to development of the country considering the limited availability of resources. He also said that a population control law was the “need of the hour” as he feared Hindus becoming a minority, taking a jab at other communities stereotyped for being actively procreative. Prime minister Narendra Modi also talked of the detrimental effects of an overpopulation on the economy in his 2019 Independence day speech, calling those with more than two children “irresponsible” and claiming that such people were the root cause of illiteracy and poor health conditions in the country.
The Bill offers incentives such as tax benefits, home loans, free healthcare, better educational and employment opportunities for those adhering to the policy. A section of the Bill also mentions a sum of Rs.60,000 for a male child or Rs.1 lakh in case of a female child for parents below the poverty line only if they agree to undergo sterilization.
However, it has drawn criticism for suggesting that those not following the policy be debarred from voting or contesting elections, denied government jobs and excluded from government welfare schemes such as the public distribution system, which threatens the livelihood of those belonging to the economically weaker sections that rely on many children for their needs.
Furthermore, the Economic Survey of India in 2018-19 showed a decline in growth rate from 2.5% in 1971-81 to 1.6% in 2011-16 as well as a deceleration in the number of children born to a woman or the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) from 5.2 to 4.1 in 1971-81 followed by a further decline from 3.7 to 2.4 during 1991-2016, busting the myth of an increase in the population.
Concerns of India’s population bypassing China’s remain as people ponder the consequences of a two-child norm.
This article has been written by Shazia Farooqui for The Paradigm
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