U.P. government’s population policy proposals deny subsidies and other benefits to parents with more than two children

Published : July 11, 2021 20:28 IST

Chief Minister Adityanath during the launch of the new population policy in Lucknow, on July 11. Photo: PTI

If a proposal in the population policy unveiled by the Uttar Pradesh government on July 11, World Population Day, becomes law, those having more than two children will not be able to apply for government jobs, will be debarred from contesting local body elections and denied access to government subsidies and welfare schemes. Interestingly, Chief Minister Adityanath announced the policy even though the draft proposal on the State government website has invited suggestions from the public until July 19.

The issue of population control will be a key issue in the next year’s Assembly election specifically targeting Muslims because even though the draft policy does not mention caste, religion or creed, various Ministers were seen waxing eloquent on TV channels about how the policy will function in case of someone having four wives. Obviously, the opposition Congress and Samajwadi Party have slammed the government, saying it wants to murder democracy in Uttar Pradesh.

The new policy will come into effect one year after being enacted. Titled, the Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilisation and Welfare) Bill, 2021, it aims to incentivise those having one child, reward those who have two children and punish those who have more than two children. Incidentally, Uttar Pradesh is India's most populous State with a population of around 220 million.

The policy promises promotions, increments, concessions in housing schemes and other perks to government employees who adhere to population control norms and have two or fewer children. “Public servants who adopt the two-child norm will get two additional increments during the entire service, maternity or, as the case may be, paternity leave of 12 months, with full salary and allowances and three per cent increase in the employer’s contribution fund under the National Pension Scheme,” according to the draft population control Bill.

Those who are not government employees and still contribute towards keeping the population in check by having one/two children will get benefits like rebates in taxes on water, housing, home loans and so on, the draft policy says. It also promises monetary rewards for those opting for family planning measures: Rs.50,000 for those with one son and Rs.1 lakh for those with one girl child, in case they go in for family planning.

The disincentives include a bar on applying for government jobs, contesting local body elections and denial of government subsidies and benefits of government welfare schemes.

The population policy will also focus on efforts to increase the accessibility of contraceptive measures and provide a proper system for safe abortion. Another focus area is to reduce the newborn and maternal mortality rate. Care of the elderly, and better management of education, health, and nutrition of adolescents between 11 and 19 years has also been ensured in the policy, according to the draft.

If the parent of a child opts for vasectomy, he/she will be eligible for free medical facilities till the age of 20. The government plans to set up a State population fund to implement the measures. The draft Bill also asks the State government to introduce population control as a compulsory subject in all secondary schools.

It cites a strain on resources due to the growing population for bringing in a population control policy. “It is necessary and urgent that the provision of 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 citizens,” the draft Bill says.

The provisions of this legislation will apply to a married couple where the boy is not less than 21 years of age and the girl is not less than 18. The U.P. Law Commission, which has prepared the Bill, says the policy will be voluntary, it will not be enforced upon anyone.

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