New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission has released a draft of the proposed population control Bill, which promotes a two-child policy, violation of which would mean people will be debarred from contesting local body elections, applying to government jobs or receiving any government subsidy.
The Commission said that the provisions are part of the draft titled the Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilization and Welfare) Bill, 2021.
The UPSLC website says, “The State Law Commission, UP is working on control, stabilisation and welfare of the population of the state and has prepared a draft bill.” It has invited suggestions to improve the draft Bill until July 19.
The draft Bill says, “In Uttar Pradesh, there are the limited ecological and economic resources at hand. It is necessary and urgent that the provision of basic necessities of human life including affordable food, safe drinking water, decent housing, access to quality education, economic/livelihood opportunities, power/electricity for domestic consumption, and a secure living is accessible to all citizens.”
Controlling and stabilising the population of the state is necessary to promote sustainable development with more equitable distribution, the Bill says.
The government’s duties, the draft Bill says, will include establishing maternity centres at all primary health centres. These centres, apart from NGOs, will distribute contraceptives like pills and condoms and also spread awareness about family planning methods through community health workers. They will also have to ensure mandatory registration of pregnancies, deliveries, births and deaths across the state, the draft Bill says.
The government shall also introduce a compulsory subject relating to population control in all secondary schools, it sats.
It seeks to revitalise efforts and provide for measures to control, stabilise and provide welfare to the population of the state by implementing and promoting the two-child norm.
“It is necessary to ensure healthy birth spacing through measures related to augmenting the availability, accessibility and affordability of quality reproductive health services to achieve the goal of population control, stabilisation and its welfare in the state,” the draft Bill reads.
Listing incentives for public servants who adopt the two-child norm, the draft Bill says, “Public servants who adopt the two-child norm will get two additional increments during the entire service, maternity or as the case may be, paternity leave of 12 months, with full salary and allowances and three per cent increase in the employer’s contribution fund under national pension scheme.”
A State Population Fund will be constituted for the purpose of implementation of the Act.
There has been a clamour for population control laws in India, even though experts say coercive policies will not have the desired effect of reducing births.
In Assam, a law similar to the one that the UP Law Commission has proposed is already in place. In 2019, the state government approved restrictions on parents who have more than two children, with debarring those with more from government jobs.
After China revised its two-child policy recently, the Population Foundation of India issued a statement saying that India must learn from China’s failed experience with enforcing coercive population policies. It said religion has little to do with fertility levels but what makes the difference is “education, employment opportunities and accessibility of contraceptives”.
Meanwhile, data suggests that India’s population is set to start declining soon, as Saurabh Rai and M. Sivakami had pointed out in an article for The Wire in 2019. Data suggests that India’s total fertility rate (TFR) and annual population growth rate, which are used to quantify population growth, are declining.
While the desired value for TFR is 2.1, which is the replacement level of fertility, India’s TFR was 2.2 in 2016, with as many as 18 states and five union territories having a TFR of 2.1 or less in that year. They predict that India’s population would start declining in 2021, if trends hold.