On Sunday , Uttar Pradesh government released the new population policy for 2021-2030 on the
occasion of World Population Day. In the new population policy, a target has been set to bring the birth
rate to 2.1 per thousand population by 2026 and to 1.9 by 2030.
The state’s total fertility rate is 2.7 percent currently.
A policy that gives the governments more powers over citizens is wrong for another fundamental
reason: 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 . Contrary to the paranoid demographic visions conjured
by a section of Hindutva ideologies, decadal growth rates have declined across all religious communities,
with the fertility rate falling faster among Muslims than in Hindus.
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. Indeed, China’s recent policy reversal of its restrictive childbearing norms points to the limits of measures of state engineering of population, besides being antidemocratic.
“Across the world, from time to time, concerns have been expressed that increasing population can be
an obstacle in development, and for the past four decades discussions on it are going on. Population
growth is also related to poverty. Every community has been taken care of in Population Policy 2021-
2030,” Adityanath said
A draft for population control legislation was released on Saturday in the public domain. Through the
proposed policy, efforts will be made to increase the accessibility of contraceptive measures issued
under the Family Planning Programme and provide a proper system for safe abortion.
The policy proposes five key targets: population control; ending curable maternal mortality and
illnesses; ending curable infant mortality and ensuring betterment in their nutrition status;
betterment of sexual and reproductive health-related information and facilities among the youth; and
care of elders.
The UP government’s law commission has also prepared a population control bill, under which a twochild norm will be implemented and promoted. As per the draft, violation of the policy is penalised with
measures such as barring for elections and abidance is rewarded with measures such as promotion in
jobs, subsidy etc.
Several incentives have been provided to people, including public servants, if they adopt the norm by
undergoing voluntary sterilization.
The incentives include a 3% increase in the employer’s contribution fund under national pension; two
additional increments during the entire service; subsidy towards purchase of plot or house site or build
house etc.A couple living below the poverty line who have only one child and undergoes voluntary
sterilization, shall be eligible for payment of a one-time ₹80,000 if the single child is a boy and ₹1 lakh if
it is a girl.
Attention to education, health and empowerment of women work far better to disincentivise larger
families than policies like these; this is indicated by the Success of India’s southern states in containing
population growth . In areas with high poverty, low economic growth and fewer educated women,
fertility levels tend to be higher. There is also growing evidence that Indian women, across economic
and social strata, would have fewer children if they could exercise their choice fully. Any government
interested in supporting fertility decline, then, must go to work on the education and empowerment
of women and respecting their choices. In a country yet to recover from Covid-19’s second wave and a
continuing economic crisis, the political class has surely more to do than decide family size for citizens.