Uttar Pradesh population policy draft draws ire from Hindu bodies

The draft proposal on population control, released by the Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission, that seeks to exclude people with more than two children from availing government schemes and proposes incentives for those with less than two children, has invoked strong reactions from Hindu bodies and experts on women’s health.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) international working president Alok Kumar said the proposal to incentivise couples to have just one child will further the demographic imbalance in society. “The government should think again about this because it leads to negative growth in population.” The VHP is set to send an objection to the UP law commission suggesting that incentivising of families with one child be removed on Monday.

Poonam Muttreja, Population Foundation of India, said the concern around “population explosion” is not substantiated by national or global data and there is no evidence that there is population explosion in India or Uttar Pradesh.

Muttreja said the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is decreasing in India ––from 3.4 in 1992-93 to 2.2 in 2015-16 (NFHS) –– and, as per the National Family Health Survey, NFHS 4 (2015-16), Uttar Pradesh had a TFR of 2.7, which was above the national average and replacement level of TFR.

“However, the Technical Group on Population Projections for 2011-2036, constituted by the National Commission on Population (NCP), has projected that UP will achieve the replacement level of TFR by 2025. Due to efforts of subsequent state governments, health outcome has improved and will continue to improve. This will impact the fertility rate positively,” she said,

“The UP government is incentivising male and female sterilisation. But given that the burden of contraception and family planning disproportionately falls on women, it is likely that female sterilisation will increase further. There continues to be widespread aversion to vasectomy, very low condom use, and a lack of male responsibility in family planning which results in the overwhelming dependence on female sterilisation. The contribution of male sterilisation in use of any modern contraceptive methods is less than 1% in UP,” she said.

“India needs to learn from Bangladesh, which brought down its fertility rate by expanding contraceptive choices for people. Kerala and Tamil Nadu saw significant reduction in fertility rates without any coercive methods,” she said.

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