07/14/2021, 16.34
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Uttar Pradesh wants to impose a two-child limit

As his poll numbers slump, Hindu nationalist Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is promoting population controls as a path for development. People from families with more than four members would be denied public benefits and banned from running for office. Meanwhile, India’s fertility rate is already dropping fast even without such measures.

Lucknow (AsiaNews) – Uttar Pradesh wants families to have only two children, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced.

Adityanath is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the same Hindu nationalist party to which India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi belongs.

The two-child policy is included in a bill drafted by the State’s Law Commission. With a population of 220 million, Uttar Pradesh is one of the most populous states in India.

On paper, the bill does not ban having more children; however, it would achieve the same result through a series of indirect measures.

People with more than two children would not be allowed to work in the public sector, obtain promotions, and, above all, could no longer benefit from welfare programmes. Conversely, families of four or fewer members would receive additional economic benefits.

Parents with more than two children would also not be allowed to contest local elections, a rule that is grotesque considering that most of the state legislators called to vote on the bill have more than two children, Scroll.in, an online Indian news publication, reports.

Some observers believe that Adityanath's move is an attempt to divert attention from his government’s poor record ahead of next year’s state election.

The policy of "fewer mouths to feed, less poverty", which has failed elsewhere, appears even more specious considering that India’s birth rate is already dropping without such legislation.

The fertility rate among women aged 15 to 49 was 3.4 children in 1992-1993; according to the 2015-2016 data (the latest available), it was down to 2.2.  According to the National Family Health Survey, the rate is expected to drop to 1.8 children by 2030.

In Uttar Pradesh, according to latest data, the current fertility rate stands at 2.7 children, above the national average, but way down compared to 4.82 in 1992-1993.

For these reason, Adityanath's announcement is proving controversial even among Hindu nationalists. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, one of the largest Hindutva (nationalist) organisations, is against the bill.

If Uttar Pradesh does adopt the two-child policy, it would not be the first Indian state to do so; others have already such laws on the books with their incentive system.

One of the saddest outcomes of such a policy would be the rise in the scourge of selective abortions.

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