- GS-1: Population and associated issues,
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Family mis-planning: UP’s New Population Policy
Context: A new population policy released by Uttar Pradesh’s CM has stated that it not only aims to bring fertility levels down, but also, notably, to “ensure there is a population balance among various communities”
The policy comes at a time when The Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission has prepared a proposed draft bill for population control.
Do You Know?
- India has just 2% of the world’s landmass and 16% of the global population.
- The current Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of Uttar Pradesh was 2.7.
- India’s TFR is declining. It is now 2.2 per woman, nearing the replacement rate of 2.1, according to the latest government data.
- TFR indicates the average number of children expected to be born to a woman during her reproductive span of 15-49 years.
UP’s Population Policy aims at:
- Decreasing the total fertility rate from 2.7 to 2.1 by 2026 and 1.7 by 2030.
- Increase modern contraceptive prevalence rate from 31.7% to 45% by 2026 and 52% by 2030.
- Increase male methods of contraception use from 10.8% to 15.1% by 2026 and 16.4% by 2030.
- Decrease maternal mortality rate from 197 to 150 to 98, and infant mortality rate from 43 to 32 to 22, and under 5 infant mortality rate from 47 to 35 to 25.
- The State’s policy also aims at increasing the life expectancy from 64.3 to 69 by 2030 and child sex ratio (0-6 years) from 899 to 919 by 2030.
Draft Population Control Bill under which a two-child norm would be implemented and promoted has the following incentives:
- Upon voluntary sterilisation of self or spouse after the second child, a government servant can receive two additional increments during the period of service, subsidy on property purchase from government bodies, housing loans at softer terms, rebates on utility charges, maternity/paternity leave of 12 months, 3% additional contribution from government (as employer) to NPS.
- For sterilisation post one-child, there is free healthcare and insurance for the child, free education up to graduation, scholarship if the child is a girl, etc.
- For those who are not government employees and still contribute towards keeping the population in check, benefits like rebates in taxes on water, housing, home loans etc. will be provided
- BPL couples adopting the one-child policy will get lumpsum money from the government.
- It proposes that any citizen who “violates” a two-child policy not only be barred from contesting local bodies polls
Other Key Provisions of the Proposed Bill
- Awareness: State government to introduce population control as compulsory subject in all secondary schools. Awareness and extensive programmes would be held among those communities, cadres and geographical areas that have a higher fertility rate
- Applicability: The provision of this legislation shall apply to a married couple where the boy is not less than 21 years of age and the girl is not less than 18.
- Non-Coercive: The policy will be voluntary – it will not be enforced upon anyone
- Dedicated Fund: The Uttar Pradesh government plans to set up a state population fund to implement the measures.
Issues and concerns associated with the Bill:
- A policy or law that arms governments with more powers over citizens is erroneous for a fundamental reason: India is not being threatened by a “population explosion”. Rather, India is naturally witnessing Population decline.
- TFR has declined from 3.4 in 1994 to 2.2 in 2015. Even in populous UP, the TFR has fallen an impressive 1.1 points to 2.7 in the span of a decade — without the state’s coercive measures
- Experts have advised caution against any population policy that puts women’s health and well being at risk.
- Given that the burden of contraception and family planning disproportionately falls on women, it is likely that female sterilisation will increase further.
- Stringent population control measures can potentially lead to an increase in these practices and unsafe abortions given the strong son-preference in India, as has been witnessed in a few states in the past.
- 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 disincentivise larger families than punitive measures.
Any government interested in supporting fertility decline, then, must go to work on the education and empowerment of women and respecting their choice.
Connecting the dots: