Population Control


The Misleading Ruse of Population Control: Case of Assam and Uttar Pradesh

By Neha Dabhade The Uttar Pradesh State government is mulling over introducing a bill titled the “Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilization and Welfare) Bill, 2021”. The Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission has released a draft of the proposed population control Bill and asked for suggestions from civil society to improve the draft. The proposed Bill promotes a two-child policy, violation of which would result in debarment from contesting local body elections, applying to government jobs or receiving any government subsidy. Uttar Pradesh is the second state after Assam which is contemplating such a law. The stated objective of the proposed Bill is “that the provision of the basic necessities of human life including affordable food, safe drinking water, decent housing, access to quality education, economic/livelihood opportunities, power/ electricity for domestic consumption, and a secure living is accessible to all citizen”. In addition, it states, “itis necessary to control, stabilize the population of the State for promotion of sustainable development with more equitable distribution”. But can this Bill achieve these desired objectives? Is population explosion even the menace that it is made out to be? Are the stated objectives the real motive behind the Bill? What is the politics guiding this policy? Despite the arguments of the governments of UP and Assam, statistics tell a different tale of the trend in population in India which are cited by experts to debunk the theory of population explosion. NFHS-5 data indicates that India’s total fertility rate (TFR) and annual population growth rate, which are used to quantify population growth, are declining. While the desired value for TFR is 2.1, which is the replacement level of fertility, India’s TFR was 2.2 in 2016, with as many as 18 states and five union territories having a TFR of 2.1 or less in that year. They predict that India’s population would start declining in 2021 if the trend holds. In the context of Assam particularly, according to the National Family Health Survey – 5 (NFHS) 2019-2020, Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in Assam is 1.9, which is less than the national average of 2.2. Data from the…