From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Fertility rate
Mains level : Population control - challenges
On Tuesday, the Assam government announced that people with more than two children will not be eligible for government jobs from January 2021.
Two child norm for jobs
- Assam will become the fourth state after Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to have a two-child norm in place for government jobs.
- At least five other states follow this norm for candidates seeking elections to local bodies such as panchayats, municipal corporations and zila parishads.
Limitations of the two-child norm
- Measures such as debarring people from holding government office amounts to penalising weaker sections of the population.
- Women’s reproductive choices are often subject to a variety of constraints.
- The two-child policy is discriminatory in nature.
- Almost all surveys indicate that India’s population growth rate has slowed substantially in the last decade.
- According to the NFHS-4, at 2.2, India’s total fertility rate (TFR) is very close to the desired replacement level of 2.1.
- NFHS-4 figures on contraception point to the unmet need for contraception. It stands at 13% — over 30 million women of reproductive age are not able to access contraception.
- NFHS-4 data confirms that women’s education has a direct bearing on fertility rates.
- The decadal survey shows that women who have never been to school are likely to bear more than three children while the fertility rate of those who have completed 12 years of schooling is 1.7.
- In spite of the fall in TFR, India’s population has continued to grow.
- This is because nearly 50% of the people are in the age group of 15-49.
- This means that the absolute population will continue to rise even though couples have less children.
What needs to be done
- Further slowing down of the momentum will require raising the age of marriage, delaying the first pregnancy and ensuring spacing between births.
- Dealing with the country’s demographic peculiarity will require investments in health, education, nutrition and employment avenues.
State governments should rethink throttling rights to enforce population control.