UPSC SOCIOLOGY MAINS SYLLABUS
Paper 2 – Section C – Social Changes in India
(vi) Population Dynamics:
a) Population size, growth, composition and distribution.
b) Components of population growth: birth, death, migration
c) Population policy and family planning.
d) Emerging issues: ageing, sex ratios, child and infant mortality, reproductive health.
The United Nations recently announced that the world population has crossed the 8 billion mark and that next year, India will overtake China and become the most populous nation in the world. Further, India’s population will continue to rise until 2064.
After assessing the 2001 census data with respect to various religions, large Hindu groups and political parties came up with a prediction that the adherents of the Indic religions would become a minority in India in 2061.This study has come as a wake-up call for Hindu groups in the country and has been the reason for the demand for a uniform population policy.
Recently, two Indian state governments – Uttar Pradesh and Assam – have advocated aggressive population control measures. This proposal pertains to pursuing a two-child policy for entitlement to state government benefits.
THE LEGAL SIDE
Article 22 of the 1969 Declaration on Social Progress and Development, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in a resolution, ensures that couples have the right to choose freely and responsibly the number of children they will have. The policy to control and regulate the number of children violates such constitutional rights as Article 16 (equal opportunity in matters of public employment) and Article 21 (protection of life and liberty).
The population control bill of 2019, which was withdrawn in 2022, proposed a two-child policy per couple and aimed to incentivise its adoption through educational benefits, free healthcare, better employment opportunities, home loans, and tax cuts.
IS THE SUPREME COURT IN FAVOUR OF POPULATION CONTROL POLICY ?
In 2018, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition asking the court to direct the Centre to make the two-child policy mandatory throughout the country in order to ensure strict population control.
India’s population growth rate has indeed declined. Apart from the government’s National Programme for Family Planning, the reason for the declining fertility rate in India is also people’s perception of small families. Although no ‘One Child Policy’ has been drawn up and imposed in India like China, the National Family Health Survey-5 has revealed that the fertility rate in the 29 states and union territories of the country ranges between 1.1 to 1.9. This is a positive aspect of the Government of India in controlling population growth.
To curb India’s population growth, the Government of India must ensure public health services, female literacy, and employment. India needs to focus on exploiting its demographic dividend rather than worry about it. Eg: Skill development programme for youth. Education of women also plays a role, both in case of fertility rates as well as age of mother at the time of birth of first child. There should be a clear understanding that offering choices and services rather than outright state control works best.