By Nevin Clinton
The Uttar Pradesh Law Commission recently came up with a draft of a population control bill which vouches for a two-child policy. This bill has been the talk of the country for the past few days and it has turned out to be quite a controversial one. Social media has been abuzz with opinions on the bill as well as the statements made by the Law Commission and the Chief Minister of UP, Yogi Adityanath.
What does the bill say?
The Bill titled “Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilization and Welfare) Bill, 2021” states that for the purpose of population control, all couples in the state must keep up with a two-child policy. The Law Commission clarified that the policy was not mandatory and that couples can decide against adhering to the same. However, not following the policy will result in certain consequences such as the taking away of eligibility in government schemes and subsidies, applying for government jobs, and so on. It is noteworthy here that the bill is now open for suggestions for one week and if the bill is passed, it will become law after one year. Suggestions can be put forth through mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to the UP State Law Commission’s address.
What do the officials concerned say?
Chief Minister of UP, Yogi Adityanath said in a statement that population was the root cause of inequality in society. He further stated that such a bill and policy was necessary for an ‘advanced society’ to be formed. Yet another statement released via a policy document on the government website said that “attempts would be made to ensure there is a population balance among various communities”. Chairman of the State Law Commission, Aditya Nath Mittal explained the bill encouraging all residents of UP to follow the policy so that they can be eligible for all government schemes, apart from the advantages that come with population control.
Incentives available to couples that follow the policy
Section 4 of the draft bill has details on the list of incentives that will be available to the general public if they take up the two-child policy. They are as follows:
- Nominal rates of interest on soft loans for construction or purchase of houses
- Rebate on charges for electricity, water and such services
- Any other incentives that the Government may come up with in the future
Public servants who adhere to the policy will be entitled to two additional increments, subsidies towards purchase of land, maternity or paternity leave of 12 months, increase and pension, and so on. Also, if public servants follow a one-child policy and undergo voluntary sterilization they will have more incentives including preference for their child in education and government jobs. If the same policy and sterilization is followed by the general public who are under the poverty line, they will get a one-time payment of Rs. 80,000 if the child is a boy and Rs. 1,00,000 if the child is a girl.
Disincentives to couples that don’t follow the policy
If couples refuse to follow the two-child policy (which they are entitled to), they will be subject to disincentives such as
- Limiting ration card units
- No part in government welfare schemes
- Ineligibility to contest local body elections
- Ineligibility to apply for government jobs
- Ineligibility to get promoted in government service
Exceptions to the policy
Chapter III of the draft bill deals with general exceptions to the policy. Firstly, in case a second pregnancy results in multiple children being born, the couple will not be deemed to have contravened the law. Similarly, there is no bar on adoption of children and a couple with two or lesser own children and one or more adopted children will not have violated the policy. Another exception is when one of the two children born to a couple suffers from some kind of disability or passes away. In such a case, a third child can be conceived. Married couples who are expecting a child when (if) the Act comes into being will also be exempted. In case of polygamy or polyandry, the male or female respectively will not be deemed to have followed the two-child policy if they have more than two children from all their relationships as a whole.
The draft bill has received mixed reception from the general public. While there have been people and politicians applauding the law commission’s move towards controlling the booming population, others have criticized the bill on grounds that it would lead to further imbalance between different communities in the population. Therefore, it remains to be seen if the bill will indeed be passed and come into force.