Family mis-planning

Source: Indian Express 

Relevance: It is a critical analysis of the UP’s new proposed population law.


UP’s new population policy and draft law try to use punishment as a tool to control fertility levels. However, evidence shows that focusing on education and empowerment of women can yield better results, as seen in southern states.

  • A new population policy released by the U.P government aims to bring fertility levels down. It also aims to create a population balance among various communities.
  • Similarly, a draft of the Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilisation, and Welfare) Bill, 2021 was published a few days ago and is currently open for public feedback.
    • It states that any citizen who “violates” a two-child policy would be barred from:
      • contesting local bodies polls, 
      • applying for, or getting promotion in, government jobs, and 
      • even receiving government subsidies. 
Problems associated with New population policy and Draft Law:
  • First, the aim of establishing a population balance among communities might breed polarisation and communal disharmony in the state.
  • Second, this policy is based on punitive theory, which disproportionately targets the poor vis-à-vis the rich population.
  • Third, India is not being threatened by a “population explosion”. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) and Census data show that in most states, and many urban areas, the total fertility rate (TFR) has already reached replacement levels (2.1).
    • On a national level, TFR has declined from 3.4 in 1994 to 2.2 in 2015. Decadal growth rates have declined across all religious communities, with the fertility rate falling faster among Muslims than in Hindus. 
  • Fourth, China’s recent policy reversal of its restrictive child-bearing norms points to the limits of measures of state engineering of population.
  • Fifth, it is an anti-democratic practice that impairs a citizen’s right to choice and his/her sexual and reproductive rights.
Way Ahead:
  • The success of India’s southern states in containing population growth indicates that economic growth, as well as attention to education, health, and empowerment of women, work far better to disincentivize larger families than punitive measures.
  • Hence, any government interested in supporting fertility decline must work on the education and empowerment of women and respect their choices.
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