Population “control” has become a political buzzword, transcending party lines. Following the publication of the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Population Control Bill, which aims to limit the number of children per family to two, Rajasthan’s Minister of Health went further by advocating a one-child policy. Similar sentiments about coercive measures aimed at controlling family size have been voiced by politicians in Madhya Pradesh (MP), Bihar and Jharkhand.
The chief minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, got the ball rolling. In June, he announced the gradual implementation of a two-child policy in the state. It received renewed attention when UP (CM) Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced the population policy on July 11.
It is necessary to understand the provisions of this policy before delving into its political consequences. According to Yogi Adityanath’s plan, government employees with only two children will get two additional increases in their period of service, 12 months of leave with full pay and a 3% increase in the employer’s contribution to the national pension scheme. .
If a couple opts for a vasectomy after a child, then a lump sum of ??80,000 will be donated for a male child and ??100,000 for a girl. But, under this policy, people with more than two children would be denied government jobs, grants, and participation in panchayat / local body elections. In addition, government rationing systems would only be available for four members per family.
While the UP’s policy may sound appealing, there are many lags between the announcement and its implementation. Last year, the Center told the Supreme Court: “[The] the government is categorically against forcing people to have a certain number of children ”. Thus, these policies proposed by some states do not have the sanction of the central government. Some people believe that these population control announcements are politically motivated. But if politicians weren’t doing politics, what would they do? Thus, Yogi Adityanath has achieved some success in his goal.
The same thing happened in the case of the Kanwar Yatra. After the Supreme Court noted that this multi-state religious event should not take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the UP government canceled it. But the intention of the state government was clear. Such tricks are important in an election year.
Some people sense communitarianism in the population discourse, because the statistics offer a different perspective. The National Family Health Survey shows that the Total Fertility Index (TFR) of Muslims fell from 4.4 in 1992-93 to 2.6 in 2015-16. Factors such as economic status, education and health care affect family size in all communities.
However, India will be the most populous country in the world at the turn of the century, followed by Nigeria, China, the United States and Pakistan. The good news is, according to a report in the medical journal The Lancet, India’s population will peak by 2047. This will be the point at which the rate of population growth begins to decline.
Experts from the Population Foundation of India, a non-governmental organization, say fertility rates are falling in several states, with the notable exceptions of UP, Bihar, MP, Rajasthan and Odisha . There are many reasons for the decline in fertility rates. Women marry later, couples are more aware of the need to space children, low-income families have understood the importance of education for their children and how their resources can go further if they have less of children. The concept that more children are equal to more successful family members no longer holds. This is the reason why Yogi Adityanath wants to reduce Uttar Pradesh’s TFR from 2.7 to 1.9 by 2030. The national average is 2.1.
No population policy can succeed if it does not take into account the needs of the population. We saw that there had been a backlash against the particularly cruel and coercive policies applied during the emergency.
In the 1960s, three children per family were considered acceptable. Over the next decade, the government came up with the Hum Do Hamare Do slogan. At that time, many people adopted him and two children per family were considered ideal. But if you ask people from a later generation, they will probably tell you that they preferred to have a child as more women entered the workforce, families had to pay for babysitters and couples. wanted to focus on providing quality education. , nutrition and other inputs for their children.
The balance of the population is important for the country. Researchers believe India and China will regain their economic glory in the first half of this century, which was taken from us by foreign invaders two centuries ago. At the start of the 18th century, the share of China and India in world GDP was around 50%.
A population policy cannot be seen in isolation from the people it affects. It is in fact a social policy. Therefore, India should focus on health, nutrition, education and economic policies. If this is done, the people will take care of themselves.
Shashi Shekhar is Editor-in-Chief of Hindustan
Opinions expressed are personal