UP’s New Population Policy: Skepticism or True concern

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 This article is written by Wyomesh Tripathi from Campus Law Centre.

Uttar Pradesh is the biggest state in India in terms of population and recently, on World Population Day, the UP government unveiled a population control policy proposed policy for population control for this decade (from 2021 to 2030). After its announcement, it caused a huge uproar, sparring debates and arguments from the oppositions, communities, critics and media.

Why is this policy?

The current population of Uttar Pradesh is 220 million and with the current growth rate (total fertility rate) of 2.7[1] , if this is not checked, it would lead to outburst at a humongous rate and with devastating implications on the lifestyle of the people.

As per the census 2011, the population of UP was approximately 200 million, which was huge for a state considering its area. There are several big economies like France, Germany, South Korea, and Japan who have less population than UP, but some of these not only have lesser population than UP but bigger economies than the whole of India. According to a data published in 2017 on Quartz.com, it is evidential that if UP were to be considered as a separate state from India, then it would stand at number 5 in terms of population but the HDI would be one of the worst of all the countries as considering various government and non-government reports, it is confirmed that more than 60million of residents fall below poverty line.

In any nation the resources are limited, either natural or artificial. UP is struggling to provide quality life inclusive of good education, healthy and nutritious food, good way of living etc. This problem could only be solved through collective and collaborative efforts of citizens and the government, as the resources may be exhausted soon if the population growth sustains.

As the resources are limited so as to improve better quality of life and to refrain from population blast, the UP government led by Yogi Adityanath has put an effort and in the process, to keep check on the fertility rate, proposed a draft bill for the decade of 2021-2030. The whole intention of the bill is to curb the unchecked fertility rate and bring it down to 1.9 by 2030.

What is the policy?

Bill itself states that ‘’A Bill to revitalize efforts and provide for measures to control, stabilize and provide welfare to the population of the State by implementation and promotion of two child norm and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto”[2].

Therefore, the preamble of the bill clearly states that the intention of this draft is to ensure utmost welfare of the citizens of state and to maximize utility and well being of the inhabitants, eventually for the better quality of life.

The proposed law has an overriding effect on existing laws and it talks about incentivizing those government employees who adopt two-child policy and voluntarily sign for sterilization after the second child. It proposes that the employee will be awarded two increments, subsidy for house, soft loan, paternity or maternity leave for 12 months with full salary and also free health care facilities to the person and their spouse.

The draft also refers to incentives provided to the public servants who opt for single-child and sterilization after it, the incentives include: 4 increments during the service, free health care, education, and preference to that single child for government service and also for admission in the institutions.

Bill also talks about citizens apart from the government servants, the common citizen who adopts the two-child policy; they will also be incentivized by the government:  providing soft loans, concession on utilities and maternity/paternity leave for 12 months. The citizens who adopt a single-child will get benefits like free health up to 20 years, scholarships (in case of girl child), free education up to graduate level and preference for the child in government jobs.

Bill also includes provisions for the citizens under Below Poverty Line, like cash incentives for adopting single-child, for boys it’s Rs. 80,000 and for girl child it’s Rs. 100,000 from the government’s state population fund. The fund is constituted for all the purposes of this act. The failure in the Medical tubectomy and vasectomy (or sterilization), will be compensated by the government from this fund to the aggrieved ones. Also, the child born out of such medical negligence would not be considered as contravention to the act. It lucidly culls out the adoption and multiple children during second birth as an exception for this two-child norm.

For the contraveners it provides certain sanctions like barring from government job, contesting local elections, promotions, government subsidies and other disincentives regarding government sponsored welfare schemes.

This law will be prospective of one year of commencement of the act hence giving one year time for the couples who already have 2 children.

Regarding the polygamous and polyandrous marriages, this law refers that total children from all marriage must not exceed from 2, otherwise the liability arises.

Why so much ruckus?

The whole purpose of the bill is to control the population outburst and there to maximize the benefits to the citizens. Prima facie, it seems very sound and reasonable. The rationale is also very reformative but the eyebrows have risen due to the timing of the bill and also the provision for only 2 children in the legal polygamous marriages like in Islam. The contention is that this government wants to polarize the Hindu vote and have intention to decrease the population growth of the Muslim citizens. Also, it is just announced when much debated talks about Uniform civil code is going on hence as per the critics, it sends a deterrent and clear cut message to all but the government is denying this contention.

CM Yogi Adiyanath, in his statement said that the laws pertaining to this issue have been successful around the world, hence it is essential to enact this bill.[3].

The government also clarified that there is no intention to curb the fertility rate of minority as the sole aim of the bill is to control the population of the whole state irrespective of any religion, case, creed and sect, thus, there must not be any restlessness among any community.

However, the commission head Justice Mittal claims that the economic, ecological, and social resources were at the periphery for perishing, thus supporting the bill.

They claim that this bill can enable proper checks on population, help in the proper implementation of socialism in the scope of the faculty of India. Also, the community claims that this bill will be proved as watershed in the development of Uttar Pradesh.

 

Is this law really needed?

Considering the total fertility rate of the state, the resources are under a threat of getting exhausted sooner or later in the future. Therefore, it is essential to come up with active steps to curb the population boom in the state. The population of UP is on the verge of reaching 230 million which is not ideal considering the resources, the education and life expectancy of the state. The secular nature of this law drafted on the direction of the government, shows its intention is to not harm any religion, but to treat everyone the same, as enshrined in the basic ethos of article 15 of Indian Constitution. The right to enjoyment of life is under article 21 of the Constitution but it is subjected to limitations when it causes social, economic, and ecological impact. India has the world’s 2% landmass and the massive population of 15% of the world’s population. The surge in the population can put a burden on the resources and affect quality education, nutritious food, better life and skill management. These adverse effects of the surge in the population play a villain against economic development, employment, income distribution, poverty and social evolution. The exponential growth will only lead to huge repercussions on universal access to health care, education, housing, sanitation, water, food and energy. So to avail better quality life with a mix of good employment, food, water, sanitation, housing, education, and health, it is really important to enact this law. To avoid any confusion, government can rebate some complications in the law so to facilitate proper constructive framework and to pave way for collective, constructive, cognitive, and cooperative approach.

Way forward

The basic reason for the population outburst is obliviousness and unawareness about the perks of having limited child. During 1970s and 1980s it was normal to have five or six children because back then the socio-economic and health institutions were not as advanced as currently they are in the present. Majority of the people were not as educated as current generation is, so people must be more aware and there must be widespread awareness programs in collaboration with obstetricians and gynecologists to make people aware about contraceptive measures for safe sexual intercourse. Another cause for this outburst is when a girl is married at early age she is capable for bearing more children hence there must be stringent norms for child marriages[4].

The much-talked population control bill for whole India would be detrimental in case of whole India as it will impact collectively on all the states, currently India’s TFR is 2.2 which is observed to be declining so it’s better for the decentralized legislation to be implemented in states which have greater TFR like Bihar, UP, Jharkhand, MP, Rajasthan etc[5].

Hence this law must be applied with utmost sincerity and with diligence; if this is well implemented then it can help the citizens to have quality life. Also, Government must increase the incentives so to attract more people and foster their sincerity for this law. U.P govt. also have to ensure that there must not be any targeting to any particular community but the secular concept must be maintained.

This article is edited by Kavana Rao.

[1] https://theprint.in/opinion/cm-yogis-up-population-control-bill-is-designed-to-serve-only-one-purpose-2022-election/695550/

[2] https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/up-population-control-bill-draft-396420.pdf

[3] https://theprint.in/opinion/cm-yogis-up-population-control-bill-is-designed-to-serve-only-one-purpose-2022-election/695550/

[4] https://ispeaklegal.medium.com/population-bill-and-the-areas-of-concern-ad8a666675f3

[5] http://niti.gov.in/content/total-fertility-rate-tfr-birth-woman

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