Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, has proposed a law aimed at discouraging couples from having more than two children. Although the state argued that they needed to “take measures to curb limited environmental and economic resources”, some suggested that the law represented a vicious example of population control. The draft rule – which can be seen here – discourages the people of Uttar Pradesh, which is ruled by Prime Minister Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, from having more than two children through a project of encouragement and fines.
The state of Assam in northeastern India, ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, recently announced plans to take similar measures to introduce a “two-child policy” for government jobs and welfare projects. Among its many issues, the Uttar Pradesh draft bill recommends denying government jobs, welfare benefits and the right to contest local elections to anyone with more than two children. Those who are already violating the “two-child norm” in government service will be barred from promotion. Those with two or fewer children will also be given incentives such as tax breaks, promotions and discounts on housing projects.
Couples may even be rewarded for performing a voluntary sterilization operation. India has a population of 1.93 billion. The state of Uttar Pradesh alone is estimated to have about 240 million people, according to the Indian government. If it is a country, Uttar Pradesh will be the fifth most populous country in the world. Although the national population is not much larger than the current population of China, most predict that India will surpass China as the world’s most populous country within a decade. After reaching this peak, the population may decline as in other parts of the world.
Is Uttar Pradesh’s two-child policy necessary? Not everyone is a believer. Some have suggested that the new proposal is not necessary for a “compulsory” two-child policy and that the state should instead focus on contraception and sex education. Others feel that the concept of India’s ballooning population is not strictly correct, arguing that wealth distribution and well-planned cities are the real issue.