India’s most populous state unveils two-child rule to plug baby boom
India’s most populous state will hand out benefits to couples with two kids but bar those with more from public office or government jobs in a draft law that aims to control its population which is more than thrice the size of Britain’s.
Uttar Pradesh unveiled the proposals on World Population Day and set July 19 as a deadline for suggestions to fine-tune the bill before it is made law in the state of 220 million people.
The state, which has a population density that is more than double the national average, said the policy aimed to drastically bring down the fertility rate by 2030.
Fertility is declining across states, including UP. We must ensure higher income, better literacy rates and look at reducing the unmet need for Family Planning!https://t.co/bx9aWtR96N via: @IndiaToday #PeopleBeforeNumbers— Population Foundation of India (@PopFoundIndia) July 13, 2021
"We have proposed that any couple that follows a two-child policy will be given all government benefits," Uttar Pradesh Law Commission Chairman Aditya Nath Mittal said.
The offer included soft loans, discounted utility bills, insurance, free healthcare, fully paid 12-month maternity or paternity leaves and other sops.
The draft also told public servants who undergo sterilization after one child will get two extra perks and proposed free healthcare, insurance and education for the single child till about 20 years of age.
It also offered cash to poorer parents opting for permanent birth control measures after one child.
But Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Forum), which is allied to India’s ruling BJP party that also governs Uttar Pradesh, opposed the single-child proposal, citing China’s flip-flop population policy.
“One-child policy will lead to contracting of population and that would not be beneficial — socially and economically beyond a certain point,” the forum said.
Commission Chairman Mittal added the tray of benefits and subsidies would be withdrawn from those who hankered for more than two kids.
"Their ration cards will be restricted to four units; they will not be able to apply for government jobs and if they are already government employees, then they won't get a promotion," The Hindustan Times quoted Mittal as saying.
Those who procreate more than two will also forfeit their rights to contest local polls, the draft added.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu monk, said it will help diminish poverty in the state, where unemployment dipped in recent months.
“Across the world, concerns have been raised from time to time about increasing population being a hurdle in development," he said at the draft’s 11 July rollout.
Uttar Pradesh’s per capita income was a fourth of national capital Delhi’s 4,017 Euros in financial year that ended 31 March, government data show.
Abhinav Prakash, a teacher of economics at Delhi University, autioned population policies must be handled delicately.
“We have to be very careful as India’s population is already slowing down without a population control policy as such,” Prakash told public broadcaster RSTV.
“We should not be accelerating that slowdown because that would lead to other problems if the demographic structure gets imbalanced like we are seeing in the case of China,” the economist added.
Adityanath’s political opponents attacked the planned law, alleging it would divide communities.
Salman Khurshid, a former foreign minister, alleged the bill was a gimmick to curry favors with Hindu voters ahead of provincial balloting in 2022.
Right-wing Hindus fear Moslems could change demography in India, where they are the single largest religious minority.
.@OnReality_Check | "That Muslims are responsible for population explosion is a myth," says Dr @DrSYQuraishi, former Chief Election Commissioner of India, on the calls by certain BJP-ruled states for a two-child norm to control population growth. pic.twitter.com/qTbn1SaOMF— NDTV (@ndtv) July 13, 2021
Once passed, Uttar Pradesh will become the second BJP-ruled state to embrace a two-child policy
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