From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Need for Population Control Policy
The Rajya Sabha has discussed a Private Member’s Bill on population regulation.
The Population Control Bill
- First introduced in 2019, it is a private member bill proposed by Rakesh Sinha.
- The purpose of the bill was to control the population growth of India.
- The proposed bill then was signed by 125 Members of Parliament (MP) and is yet to become an act of law.
It seeks to amend Article 47 by inserting article 47A to the Constitution of India. It proposes that-
- The State shall promote small family norms by offering incentives in taxes, employment, education etc. to its people who keep their family limited to two children
- The state shall withdraw every concession from and deprive such incentives to those not adhering to small family norm, to keep the growing population under control.
- Penalties: The 2019 bill talked about introducing penalties for couples not adhering to the two-child policy such as debarment from contesting in elections and ineligibility for government jobs.
- Two-child policy: The 2020 bill proposes to introduce a two-child policy per couple.
- Incentivizing adoption: It shall incentivize adoption through various measures such as educational benefits, taxation cuts, home loans, free healthcare, and better employment opportunities.
- Birth spacings: It also proposes to ensure healthy birth spacing through measures related to augmenting the availability, accessibility and affordability of quality reproductive health services.
Issues with penal provisions
- Alienation: If a family was penalized for more than two children, then the third child would develop a feeling of alienation that he is an unwanted child.
- Bar on Women: The biggest victim of such would be women, irrespective of religion. They would be debarred in political participation.
- Selective abortions: In India, the preference for male children may lead to a greater anti-female child sex selection because parents will only have “two attempts” to have babies.
- Violation of reproductive autonomy: To control and regulate the number of children a family can have is a gross violation of human rights, the right to self-determination and an individual’s reproductive autonomy.
- Violation of Individual Privacy: A right to procreation is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution but it comes under the ambit of Article 21, as discussed in Jasvir Singh vs State of Punjab.
- Remarriage issues: A divorced person who has two children with a prior partner cannot bear a child with their next spouse.
Why need such policy?
- India had a land availability of only 1.2 hectare per person, while the resources that get regenerated automatically was 0.43 only.
- We are an ecological debtor. The ecological footprint which we use and the gap between their regeneration is 187%.
- If this continued for 30 years, then resources would be exhausted and people would not be able to lead a dignified life.
- Some people see demographic dividend in the growing population but it was being used as cheap labour globally.
- The population of India is seen as the biggest obstacle to its economic development.
- It is the fall guy for governments seeking to justify their incompetence.
- No legislation must be enacted unless its future impact and social effect are first completely realized.