Passing yet another hurdle for the proposed `Population Control Bill, 2020’, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Saturday, stated that President Ram Nath Kovind has given permission to move the bill. The Congress MP who had earlier moved the bill in the Rajya Sabha in December is set to move the bill in the Upper house in the current Budget Session. The bill aims at enforcing a two-child policy by offering incentives and disincentives to couples, as per reports.
For married couples who live below the poverty line and undergo voluntary sterilisation/operation, Isuggested that the Centre give them a one-time lump sum amount of Rs 60,000… if the single child is a boy or Rs Rs 1 lakh if the single child is a girl.— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) March 14, 2020
In the Bill, the disincentives for those who do not comply include barring them from contesting elections, getting promotions in government services, receiving government subsidy — barring those in the BPL category —or applying for Group A jobs.— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) March 14, 2020
In the previous draft of the bill, it had also demanded that government employees should give an undertaking that they will not procreate more than two children. It also suggested that the government must give preference to applicants with two or less than two living children. The bill is pending in the Rajya Sabha as it required the assent of the President due to its monetary implications.
According to Family planning 2020, though India is projected to overtake China’s population in less than a decade, the organisation states that India is on course to achieve population stabilisation with a national Total Fertility Rate of 2.2 – which is close to the replacement level fertility of 2.1. Referring to the sharp decline in India’s population growth rates over 10 years from 2001 to 2011 from 21.5% to 17.7%, the organisation states that 24 of the Indian states and union territories have already reached the replacement level TFR of 2.1 with the desired Fertility Rate at 1.8. The organisation also highlights that currently there is a high unmet need for family planning at 13% amid married women of 15-49 years as of 2015-16. This reportedly placed these women at grave risk of death or disability during pregnancy and childbirth due to lack of access to contraceptives. These concerns have been voiced by many such health experts.
Similarly, the Economic Survey 2018 stated that that ‘son meta preference’ – the desire to have a male child – has resulted in 21 million “unwanted girls" in India - adding this burden on women. Singhvi's offered incentive for single girl child may offset the sex-selective practices and forced sterilisations which the Economic Survey had warned about. Experts had also warned against denial of benefits which will impact the poorest and most marginalized sections. Singhvi's bill has also excluded them from this decentive in the bill.