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Private member’s Bill calls for two-child norm

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Private member’s Bill calls for two-child norm


What to study?

For prelims and mains: Concerns and issues associated with the proposed two- child policy.


Context: A nominated MP has introduced a private member’s Bill- Population Regulation Bill, 2019- in the Rajya Sabha, seeking to enforce a two-child norm by giving incentives for those adopting the small family practice and penalties for those contravening it.


Highlights of the Bill:

  1. It suggests that people with more than two living children should be “disqualified” from being chosen as an MP, MLA or a member of any body of the local self government after the commencement of the Act.
  2. Similarly, it suggests that government employees should give an undertaking that she or he will not procreate more than two children.
  3. It says those government employees who have more than two children on or before the commencement of the Act should be exempted.
  4. Other penalties include reduction in subsidies on loans and interest rates on savings instruments, reduction in benefits under the public distribution system, and higher than normal interest rates for availing loans from banks and financial institutions.
  5. The provisions of the Bill also list out several benefits for Central and public sector enterprise employees who adopt the two-child norm “by undergoing sterilization operation himself or of the spouse”.


Criticisms related to two- child policy:

  1. India is a country with a booming technology industry, one that relies on young people. There is fear that, by restricting the number of children that can be born, there will not be enough educated young people in the next generation to carry on India’s technological revolution.
  2. Critics also argue that the population growth of India will slow down naturally as the country grows richer and becomes more educated.
  3. There are already well-documented problems with China’s one-child policy, namely the gender imbalance resulting from a strong preference for boys and millions of undocumented children who were born to parents that already had their one child. These problems risk being replicated in India with the implementation of their two-child policy.
  4. By interfering with the birth rate, India faces a future with severe negative population growth, a serious problem that most developed countries are trying to reverse. With negative population growth, the number of old people receiving social services is larger than the young tax base that is paying for the social services. In this case, taxes must be increased and young people risk contributing way more than they will receive in the future.
  5. The law related may also be anti-women. Human rights activists argue that, not only does the law discriminate against women right from birth (through abortion or infanticide of female fetuses and babies), but divorce and familial abandonment are at risk of increasing if a man with a large family wants to run for political office. In addition, women in India are, by and large, uneducated and illiterate and, as such, are often unaware of the two-child policy.
  6. A legal restriction to two children could force couples to go for sex-selective abortions as there are only two ‘attempts’. A significant proportion of such women, especially those from lower socio-economic strata, would be forced to go for unsafe abortions because of issues of access and affordability. Besides being inhumane, this is bound to create gender imbalances.


Are urgent and aggressive steps to control population required for India?

  • It is indeed a fact that population of India is growing and will continue to grow for the next couple of decades. This is because, as compared to the past, there is a higher proportion of people in the marriageable age group who will produce children, and people are now living longer.
  • However, the fertility rates are also declining. The average number of children that a woman is expected to bear in her lifetime is called the total fertility rate (TFR). A TFR of about 2.1 is considered as replacement-level fertility – if achieved, it will lead the population to stabilise in the long run.
  • As per National Family Health Survey data, the country-level TFR in India is 2.23, which is not hugely above the desired level of 2.1.
  • Twenty states/UTs have achieved the replacement-level TFR, another five have got it below 2.2, with the remaining 11 states (including Bihar, UP, MP, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh) having a higher rate. Though these 11 states/UTs accounts for 42% of country’s population, they are already showing a fall in their TFRs.


Sources: Indian Express.


Mains Question: In 2050, India’s population is projected to be 1.69 billion, which will be higher than that of China. Do you think with Population Regulation Bill, India be able to handle its overpopulation crisis? Critically analyse.