THE UTTAR PRADESH POPULATION (CONTROL, STABILIZATION, AND WELFARE) BILL, 2021: A TRUMP CARD OR A LOSING CARD?
This blog is submitted by Cherry Mishra. She is a student of BA LL.B. 7th Semester in Jaipur National University, Rajasthan.
As we all know the fact that ‘Population’ has always been a hot topic and major problem in India. Today, the estimated current population of India is 1,394,938 as per the UN data. Although many attempts in the form of policies, schemes have been made by many states including Karnataka, Assam, there’s no decrement in population yet. One of such states is Uttar Pradesh who has recently come into highlights regarding the same. Recently, on 9th July, CM Yogi Adityanath government has brought The Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilization, and Welfare) Bill, 2021, i.e., Population Policy 2021-2030, drafted by the State Law Commission for the purpose of bringing down the total fertility rate (TFR) among women from 2.8 to 2.1 by 2030. Public suggestions were sought by the commission till 19th July. If the bill gets enacted then it shall be enforced in one year from the date of publication in the official gazette.
Agenda behind this Bill
- Basic necessities of human life like affordable food, safe drinking water, education, economic opportunities, etc. are available.
- To promote sustainable development with more equitable distribution.
- To ensure healthy birth spacing.
- To provide for measures to control, stabilize and provide welfare to the state’s population by two-child norm policy.
What UP Population Bill actually provides?
I will cover the most important and debatable provisions under this sub-head:-
As per Section 4, the public servants will be given incentives like a rebate, paternity and maternity leave of 12 months, soft loan, etc. if they adopt the two-child norm by undergoing voluntary sterilization upon himself or spouse and additional incentives (free education up to graduation level, scholarship to girl child for higher studies, etc.) in case of the one-child norm.
Further Section 7 provides that the government will pay rupees eighty thousand and one lakh to the couple living below the poverty line if the child is a boy and a girl respectively.
If a person procreates more than two children in violation of the two-child policy then he will be debarred from government-sponsored welfare schemes; limit of ration card units up to four; bar on contesting election to local bodies, government jobs, promotions, subsidies.
General Exceptions (Sections 13 to 21) –
People won’t be disentitled to avail any benefits under this act if they fall under the following exceptions:-
- If a person has a child born out of first pregnancy and as a result of multiple birth during second pregnancy has 2 children subsequently.
- If a person has 2 children from his or her marriage and adopts third child later on. However, they can’t adopt more than two children if they are already having one child.
- If a couple’s either or both children suffers from disability or dies and they conceive a third child later on.
- If a couple is already having two children and conceives a third child within one year from the date of commencement of this act.
Duties of Government-
The government shall distribute condoms, contraceptive pills at reasonable rates; iron and vitamin capsules; conduct regular vaccination; spread awareness regarding family planning; etc. The government will introduce a subject regarding population control in secondary schools and made it mandatory. Also, the government will take group insurance for the actions of all allopathic surgeons, staff, and other authorities of the hospital except in case of culpable negligence and will provide compensation to the couple if the woman becomes pregnant even after the sterilization operation.
Analysis of this Act:-
Despite all the criticisms faced by this act, I would say that this act has been wonderfully drafted by the UP State Commission. Uttar Pradesh is not the sole state who has proposed such a bill, such a law has already been brought in, in at least 12 states of our country and been replaced in some of the states including Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttrakhand, and Himachal Pradesh. Also, efforts were being made at the Central level. The Population Regulation Bill, 2019 was tabled in Rajya Sabha by Rakesh Sinha. Now, let’s counter its condemnations and see how this act can be beneficial:
- The ones against this policy say that this will have a deleterious effect on women, for e.g., if a politician has to contest elections and his wife birthed a third child so he would simply abandon his wife or divorce her in order to contest the elections and the women would be left alone with 3 children.
In this regard, I would say that no matter whatever he does he will be called the father of those children and won’t be eligible for any incentives under this act. The act also provides that wives and children of husbands under polygamous marriage are eligible for the benefits; however, the husband will be precluded from availing any incentives under this act (as per Section 18). In the case of polyandrous marriages, the same provision applies mutatis mutandis (as per Section 20).
- Another criticism I would like to counter here is China’s one child policy. Many critics are comparing China’s one child policy to UP’s two-child norm.
Firstly, there is no match between the two regarding their implementation levels. China implemented it at the national level and UP is trying to implement it at the state level. Secondly, China’s one-child policy had been a huge failure which ultimately led to female foeticides, abortions and in the period between 2005-2008, China had one of the world’s worst gender ratios (120 males:100 females) which means there were 34 million more men than women in China.
Due to this ‘Bride Pride’ and ‘421 family’ problem started. Subsequently, China revoked its one-child policy in 2015 and encouraged a two-child policy. So, we can say that this step of UP government will be worthwhile for all of us.
- Next condemnation I would like to point out here is ‘a ploy to create a Hindu-Muslim controversy during the election mode.’ Sometimes Muslims are blamed for overpopulation especially by Right-wing and sometimes Hindus are being urged by RSS to breed fast so that Muslims don’t overtake them.
Firstly, we need to understand that overpopulation has nothing to do with religion. What needs to be done is the development in the economy, education, and healthcare sectors. Also, some coercive measures along with the above-mentioned developments are required for those who don’t want to follow any rules and are not concerned about overpopulation.
- Lastly, few people have brought up another historical track record of a similar policy in our country which is forced sterilization (1975-1977) under Indira Gandhi government. Seriously, they have compared it with the UP government’s draft bill under which the words ‘voluntary sterilization’ has been clearly mentioned. 11 million people were sterilized forcefully within the span of 2 years due to which around 1800 people had to lose their lives because sterilization was done hastily. Here, UP government is not forcing anybody; however, they are giving two options to the general public either to choose two-child norm by undergoing voluntary sterilization and enjoy the incentives provided under the act or choose not to adopt the policy and face disincentives.
This Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilization, and Welfare) Bill, 2021 is just a draft bill now but the agenda behind it is the need of the hour. The suggestions received by the UP Law Commission like permission for a third child to parents who have two daughters or whose children are physically challenged clearly implies that we still live in a patriarchal and conservative society and have not adopted modernization yet. People with such mindsets will never change and they won’t take a step towards the nation’s development and progress until and unless a law is imposed upon them. Where Uttar Pradesh’s 77.7% population is rural which is even higher than India’s total rural population, i.e., 68.84% and has the lowest literacy rate clearly shows that people will neither try to control their population nor make any efforts for the welfare of the state. We as a citizen of India need to logically think the best for all of us rather than being influenced by the politician’s inflammatory speeches. The two-child norm will prove to be a trump card in the future.
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