The government has no intention of introducing a two-child population policy, it told the Lok Sabha in an answer on Friday.
A simple "no" was the written answer given by Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar, to a question that asked if the government proposes to bring a two-child policy.
The answer further outlines four reasons behind this stance.
First, India's Wanted Fertility Rate has come down to 1.8, meaning that couples only want 1.8 children on average.
Second, under international agreement, India is a signatory to International Conference, 1994 in Cairo, to which India is a signatory, and prohibits coercion in population planning.
Third, the government thinks that coercion and diktats are counterproductive. "International experience shows that any coercion or diktat to have a certain number of children is counter-productive and leads to demographic distortions like sex selective abortions, abandonment of the female child and even female infanticide due to intense son preference. All this eventually resulted in a skewed sex ratio", the response said.
Lastly, the several states have brought their populations under control without resorting to coercive population control means. The reply mentions Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal among other states and union territories.
The question was asked by Uday Pratap Singh, a Member of Parliament representing Hoshangabad in Madhya Pradesh from the Bharatiya Janata Party, and can be found here.
Recently, India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh adopted a population policy.
Though Uttar Pradesh's policy does impose a stringent child-limiting policy, it does provide sizable incentives for two children and for their parents like scholarships, insurance cover, utility subsidies and preferential interest rates for home loans. Should parents decide to stick with one child, these benefits are amplified. Further add-on benefits are provide for subcategories like choosing to get voluntarily sterilised or to families below poverty line who choose only one child.
However, those flouting the law would not be able to contest local body elections, and would be barred from government jobs. Government servants who have more than two children would have to undertake that they would not flout the rules. Flouters would also be barred from promotion in government jobs and would be rendered ineligible from receiving government subsidies.
The state of Maharahstra also has a two-child norm, limited to government employees.
Not the first such reply in Parliament
This is not the first instance that the government has said that it has no intention of bringing in a population control policy.
On March 19 this year, during the Budget Session of Parliament, the government gave a similar answer to the same question. It said that 28 of 36 states/union territories had gotten their fertility rates below 2.1. The replacement rate is 2.2.
On November 29, 2019, the government similarly declined that it was planning any two child policy. This reply can seen here.
This story previously incorrectly stated the name of the MoS, Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar, which has now been rectified. The error is regretted.
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