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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

UP population plan for ‘balance’ among communities, lower fertility rate a focus

The draft Bill, on which suggestions have been invited from the public until July 19, proposes to bar people with more than two children from contesting local bodies elections, applying for government jobs, and receiving any kind of government subsidy.

Written by Avaneesh Mishra | Lucknow |
Updated: July 12, 2021 7:00:08 am
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during the launch of the new population policy in Lucknow on Sunday. (PTI Photo)

The Uttar Pradesh government announced on Sunday that “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, the government’s new Population Policy 2021-30 said.

Yeh prayas bhi kiya jayega ki vibhinn samudayon ke madhya jansankhya ka santulan bana rahe. Jin samudayon, samvargon, evam bhaugolik kshetro mein prajanan dar adhik hai, usme jagrukta ke vyapak karyakram chalaye jayenge,” says the policy document.

The policy, which was released by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, aims to bring down the gross fertility rate in the state from 2.7 at present to 2.1 by 2026, and to 1.9 by 2030 by empowering women to make informed personal choices.

Efforts would be made to improve access to contraceptive measures under the family planning programme, and to provide a system for safe abortions, says the policy.

The document also says that “in order to make the steps taken and policies made on population control more effective, making new laws will also be considered”.

The 40-page Population Policy 2021-30 document released on World Population Day comes days after the UP Law Commission published a draft Bill on population control on its website.

The draft Bill, on which suggestions have been invited from the public until July 19, proposes to bar people with more than two children from contesting local bodies elections, applying for government jobs, and receiving any kind of government subsidy.

The draft Bill also proposes to prohibit promotions in government jobs for people with more than two children, and to offer incentives to those with up to two children.

State Law Commission Secretary Sapna Tripathi told The Indian Express that the government had not asked the commission for the draft Bill.

“We have prepared the proposal on our own and have sought suggestions from the people. We will study the suggestions, and based on that we will prepare a final draft and send it to the government for consideration,” she said.

The policy released on Sunday proposes five key targets: population control; ending curable maternal mortality and illnesses; ending curable infant mortality and ensuring betterment in their nutrition status; betterment of sexual and reproductive health-related information and facilities among the youth; and care of elders.

According to the document, UP launched its first population policy in 2000, aiming to bring down the fertility rate — the average number of children a woman would have in her childbearing years — to 2.1 by 2016; fulfilling the demand for contraceptives; and decreasing the infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR).

Despite some progress in health outcomes — such as an increase in institutional childbirth from 15.5 per cent in 1998-99 to 67.8 per cent in 2015-16; a decline in MMR from 707 per 1 lakh live births in 1998 to 197 in 2016-18; and a decline in IMR from 83 per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 43 in 2016 — UP had failed to achieve the target fertility rate by 2016, the document noted.

Releasing the policy document, Chief Minister Adityanath said the increase in population is directly related to illiteracy and poverty. The proposed measures to control population would not be confined to any particular class or section of society, he said.

“Efforts to stabilise population are connected to wider awareness in society. We should not forget that population growth is directly proportional to poverty and illiteracy. Widespread awareness is the only tool to address it. It will be difficult to achieve the goals of population stabilisation unless we run an awareness campaign for all sections of society. All such sections must be identified, and a mass awareness programme should be run,” Adityanath said.

“A population explosion can create obstacles in the development of the state and the country. This has been discussed on many fora for the last four decades. Countries and states that have made the required effort in this regard have seen positive results, but there is more to be done,” the Chief Minister said.

Initiating the ‘Population Stability Pakhwada’ from July 11-24, the CM underlined the need for a gap between a couple’s two children.

“If there is no gap between two children then their nutrition will be affected, and the IMR and MMR will be very difficult to control. We (UP) have to reach the national average in these. Efforts made so far have yielded good results, but more needs to be done,” he said.

Giving the example of the response to Covid-19 and encephalitis, Adityanath emphasised the need for inter-departmental coordination in the project to control the state’s population.

“The New Population Policy is concerned not only with population stabilisation, but also with providing a way to prosperity for every citizen. State committees are continuously reviewing the work, but the contribution of various sections of society is very important…,” he said.

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