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Is population control legislation need of the hour?

Pic Source: World ATLAS

Two members of parliament introduced in the Lok Sabha, a private member's bill aimed at population control in India, stating that population rise is the most significant reason for India's slow rate of development. The bill argues for an immediate need for population control.

What do you mean by Private Member's Bill?

We have something called as the common bill, we have something called as the private member's bill. What is this private member's bill if there is a member of the Parliament, irrespective of who so that person is from any political party if he is not a minister, not part of the cabinet minister in that case, any member even if he is from the same political party, which has formed the government that person's bill that he is put out in the Rajya Sabha or the Lok Sabha is what is called as the private member's bill. If a bill is introduced by a minister that happens to be a government bill, if the bill is introduced by any MP, who is not a cabinet minister in that case, that is what is called as the private member's bill. For example, we have the BJP, which has formed the government at the central level. So if he/she is not a minister, he can be the Member of Parliament, but not a minister in the government even if such a person introduces a bill that is also called as the private member's bill.

Understanding the issue in more detail:

There are MPs who have presented this private member's bill, all that they're seeking is for coming up with the legislation, so that they will be able to control the population explosion by implementing a law. According to few experts such a law is not a necessity, we were the first country to come up with the population control laws back in the 1951. Back then we have had a significant rise of population even now, what we are witnessing is race of population. But there is another thing that we have to look at and that is total fertility rate. The total fertility rate was about 5.9% and now it is about 2% which basically means the population has stabilised. So, the government need not have to come up with the population control legislation.

Do we require a population control law in India or not?

We have the Uttar Pradesh government and the state law commission of Uttar Pradesh which came up with a proposed draft bill, that is the Uttar Pradesh population control stabilisation and welfare bill of 2021. According to this legislation, it goes on to say that if there are couples, if they have more than two children, in that case, they will not be provided the government job. If there are couples who do not have more than two children, but then they get the government jobs as well. After they get the government jobs, what if they have a third child? This is not addressed in the legislation that happens to be the first major concern.

When you look at the total fertility rate, when you look at the population at the time of independence, the total fertility rate was about 5.9% but now it is reduced to about 2%. In fact, it is way less than the replacement level which is about 2.1%. So, while it is already being stabilised, why introduce a law and further decrease the population.

The third is with respect to the incorrect selection. What is this? Let's say for example, if there is an imposition in a law that only two children are allowed, what would happen, we have a patriarchal mindset in our country, there would be people who would have male preference as their children. So, in that case, they would also want to see whether they have a male child or a female child, and if it is a female child, this can also lead to death of the female child because they have the patriarchal mindset and they would have the male prioritisation as well so in this particular case, there can be illegal practices, unsafe abortion that can be collected for the desire of a male child. So this will encourage sex selection and at the same time, this will have more abortions as an alternative and when women go through massive abortions, this can also impact their health as well, this is another major concern, if a law is introduced in the form of population control.

Finally, this particular law if it is introduced, it is also anti poor. Why is it anti poor that is because when it comes to the reproductive rights, it is the rights of the people, people choose whether they want to have the kids or not, it is the right to choice of the people as well. It is the right to his or her sexual satisfaction and reproductive rights as well, why is the government entering within the right to choice premise. Added to it, when it comes to the poor people, they also have an assumption that more the hand much better it is for their own economic progress. So when it comes to the poor people, they have an understanding that if there are more children are at their homes, there'll be more people who would be working and they would be able to progress economically as well. If this law is introduced, population control law is introduced in that case, we are taking away their right to choice. This basically means we are also violating their right to choice as well as reproductive rights as well.

Drawing Comparison with China:

China had a one child policy, this was eventually turned to two child policy as well. So, forced population control measures have not shown promising results in the countries that have implemented them the most relevant example being India's immediate neighbour China, the one child policy has proved to be disastrous, causing a demographic imbalance, the population of China is ageing faster than in many other modern country owing to the policies of the first population control. So, if people are forced to have one or two children, then we will not have the demographic dividend, we will not have the running population, we will not have the in population. So, what we will have is the age old population, as we see in Japan, so only when we have young population, the nation keeps running. If we have older generation who are present, they will be the pension bearers, and they will not have much to add, when it comes to the economic progress. Everything should happen naturally and when education is given, the total fertility rate will decrease over a period of time. In fact, we have the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who has also counted the need for such a law by saying forced population control can have very dangerous consequences, it can create a gender imbalance says External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

Arguments in Favour of Implementing a Population Control Law:

When you look at the larger picture, we as the human race have been present in the earth, and we have created massive destruction to the entire world. So debate over population explosion has erupted after recent Ecosystem Assessment pointed to the role of human population in driving other species into the extinction and precipitating a resource crunch. This basically means once we have more population on Earth, we will ensure that we enter into deer habitat, animals habitat and this means that animal species go on decreasing, there is biodiversity loss, and with increase in the population, there'll be a drop in the resources as well, this is the primary reason why we have to come up with the population control policy.

Second is to do with the unemployment crisis, what exactly happened? The railways releases one of the notifications. This is for a group C service or a group D service, who are the people who apply for it, it is the PhD holders check the state of Indian employment. There are peon who are called for this means persons who have not even clear 10th standard or not even 12th standard such people should ideally apply for the peon job, but who is applying for it people who have bachelor's degrees, people who have master's degrees, people who have PhDs as well such as the scale of unemployment that we have in our country and when it comes to the unemployment, because of the huge population, there is no permanent jobs that are created. Instead, they are replaced like the cogs in the machine. So because if there is more population, there'll be too much of human resource, there'll be too much of unemployment crisis as well, and with the population burst happening in the near future, this may further intensify. So as a result, in order to control this unemployment crisis, what we require is the law.

And finally, every single asset on this planet is also restricted in it amount. This basically means we would have enjoyed the fruit of a particular tree and we would have also felt that this is a particular asset, which should also transfer to the next generation as well. But at the pace that we are exploding in terms of the population, there'll be no sustainable development and the future generation will not have enough of the assets and food resources will also become a crunch in order to ensure that all these are addressed, what we require is a population control law is another way of argument.

My Opinion over this issue:

Since the TFR for India that is the total fertility rate has stabilised, we do not require such laws. However, what needs to be concentrated is on strengthening the public health infrastructure and raising awareness about this. This basically means education will have to be provided to the women. So more the education to the woman, more the spread of education, this changes the perception about reproductive rights and ultimately, they will be able to have less number of children. So we need to provide awareness we need to provide education and education should be especially provided to the women is one of the recommendations.

Followed by this in the year 1994 we had the International Conference on Population and Development, which had taken place in Cairo. This had spoken about human rights population, sexual and reproductive health, gender equality, sustainable development, at this particular point, it also went on to say right to plan once family is also part of the personal choice, if it has to be part of the personal choice this should also be provided encouraged with awareness and at the same time education to the women. So the International Conference on Population and Development focused that right to choice, right to productive rights is about those individual and couples deciding it, but they should also be given an awareness. So education to the women should also be provided said International Conference on Population and Development, which happened in 1994 in Cairo.

And we also have United Nations data that showed that there is a projected rise in the population of older people, and a decline in the young population in many countries. Although the trend started in rich countries such as Japan, the trend is now visible in developing countries, as well as South Asian countries. So if this number is dropping, it is not the right time for us to introduce population control, which can have negative consequences.


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