“Population Explosion” and the Two-Child Policy in India: Myths versus Realities

The family welfare program in the country is voluntary. But it’s not just Uttar Pradesh and Assam that are proposing population control legislation.

Other states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Telangana have introduced similar laws in a bid to curb population growth.

But can coercive policies like the two-child policy help the state governments of Uttar Pradesh and Assam achieve their goal?

In a sense, the policy proposals run counter to the Center’s notion of the family welfare program.

As recently as 2020, the Center told the Supreme Court in an affidavit that “international experience shows that any coercion to have a certain number of children is counterproductive and leads to demographic distortions.” Such a law, the Center noted, could have the unintended impact of sex-selective and unsafe abortions and an additional bias in the sex ratio.

Shailaja Chandra says the factors to be looked at are “not coercive methods, but the question of when to have a child and early marriages”.

“If girls are married off later and allowed to study, the benefits of worker participation and all the things that make a difference for a country will definitely come into place. Unfortunately, none of the policies talk about these aspects,” she says.