This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Aheed. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

What Is The Population Control Bill And Why Is It Problematic?

More from Aheed

Over the past month, the issue of India’s vast population has been trending in news conversations as Assam and UP are mulling implementing population control laws that incentivise having no more than two children. The UP government has proposed the Population (Control, Stabilisation and Welfare) Bill, 2021, and is taking suggestions till 19 July.

What Does The Bill Propose?

population india
Representative Image.

The Population Control Bill includes incentives for those that follow the two-child policy and punishes those that don’t, in essence.

Some of the incentives for those that follow the policy include:

  • Rebate in taxes on water, housing, home loans, etc.
  • Government employees will be eligible for promotions, concessions in housing schemes, etc.
  • Public servants to get two additional increments during service, paid maternity/paternity leave of 12 months, free healthcare and insurance for spouse, etc.
  • Those below the poverty line, with only one child, who undergo voluntary sterilisation will be given ₹80,000 or ₹1 lakh.

Those that don’t follow the policy will be ineligible to:

  • Contest elections in local authority or anybody of self-government.
  • Apply for government jobs under the state government.
  • Promotion in government services.
  • Receive government subsidies and welfare schemes.

While I disagree with the principle of the bill, the incentives should be universalised. Regardless of how many children a couple has, these incentives need to be implemented for the welfare of the entire population.

Punishing those that don’t comply with the proposed bill does away with the purpose of “welfare” that the state supposedly wishes for.

While we have elected leaders in the parliament accused of rape and murder, denying those with more than two children to contest local elections is ironic. In the new Union Cabinet, 42% of the ministers declared they had criminal cases against them.

Why The Bill Is Problematic

The bill states, “In Uttar Pradesh, there are limited ecological and economic resources at hand. 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.”

Poor India
Millions of India’s poorest do not have access to basic amenities.

Whenever the question of population control arises, it is often at a time when the social conditions have disintegrated. The reasons for the systemic problems of poverty, hunger, homelessness and dwindling resources like food and shelter is not the number of people in a country, but the disproportionate distribution of resources.

Poverty and other social ills are not a result of overpopulation; they are directly affected by the few people who control capital. It’s, thus, not overpopulation that leads to these problems; it’s the hoarding of capital by a few and conditions of exploitation that need to be in place for the capitalistic system to thrive.

The population of a country is often used as a scapegoat for these problems. We often hear people say that India’s population has held back the development and welfare of the masses. That is a false assumption.

According to estimates by the UN, 40% of food produced in India is wasted and 194 million people go hungry every day. Thus, India does not have a resource issue; it has a policy and systematic issue.

In a recent report by The Print, Kerala and Punjab received the highest level of basic services amongst the asset poor. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, on the other hand, were the worst performers. Access to basic resources made “Kerala’s poor, UP’s rich”.

We see that Kerala has managed to control its population while UP hasn’t. Social conditions play an important role in how many children there are in a family. According to census 2011, India has over 10 million child labourers.

In order to survive, the poor look at children as assets rather than an expense. The exploitation of labour has led to children being seen as a set of helping hands in low-income families.

Therefore, it’s not far fetched to conclude that improving the social conditions of the poor would automatically lead to better family planning.

The bill also proposes introducing population control as a subject in secondary schools.

In China, they had to scrap their one-child policy due to the ageing and shrinking of the workforce.

overpopulation
Representative Image.

While there has been opposition from mainstream parties to the bill, right-wing groups have also raised a voice against it. But the reasons in both cases are either based on jingoistic appeals/viewing people as commodities or racism/Islamophobia.

A Samajwadi Party MP questioned where we would get the “manpower” from in case of war. VHP and other right-wing groups, on the other hand, suggest that the bill wouldn’t stop Muslims from procreating, in turn, hinting at the “fear” of Muslims outnumbering Hindus in India.

The bill states, “Attempts would be made to ensure there is a population balance among various communities in the state. Extensive campaigns would be run in communities, groups, and geographical areas where fertility rates were higher.”

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma recently said that the difference in population growth rate between Hindus and Muslims was “dangerous”. Being BJP ruled states, UP and Assam seem to be eyeing this bill for political motives rather than welfare. It won’t be surprising if the policy is used to harass and target particular communities in the future.

Featured Image via piqsels
You must be to comment.

More from Aheed

Similar Posts

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By Shashk Tiwari

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below