Recently a new census came out of China that may have a lesson or two for the
Indian society, the government, and the legislature that have some voices
advocating for the introduction of Population Control Bill or a two-child policy
in simple words. China also has a decennial census like India and although
India’s census results haven’t come out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the
headlines results that have come out of China is China’s population is not
growing as fast as predicted. China’s population growth has slowed down and has
been on a decline ever since the Chinese government enforced the one-child
The intrusive one-child policy enforced by the Chinese government in 1980 meant
a couple cannot have more than one child. The census results in China shows us
the Chinese produced the fewest babies ever since they started the census
operation in 1953 except for 1961 when between 1.5 crores to 5.5 crore people
died of starvation in the Great Chinese Famine. China has seen 3 years of
successive decline in production of babies and as a result, China’s current
population stands at 141 crores.
India’s estimated population stands at 138 crores which mean India’s population
will overshoot China’s earlier than estimated. These are not good signs,
especially when our country is already struggling to keep up with the demands of
the current population. Then why shouldn’t there be a population control bill
In India, several states, including Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Rajasthan, Odisha,
Rajasthan, Telangana, and Maharashtra, have enacted some form of two-child rule
for those seeking elected office or government jobs. Ever since independence,
several Public Interest Litigations have been filed various High Court and in
the Supreme Court. In July 2019, Rakesh Sinha introduced the Population Control
Bill, 2019 in the Rajya Sabha.
The bill's aim is to keep India's population under control. On February 7, 2020,
Anil Desai, a Shiv Sena MP, introduced the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020
in the Lok Sabha on February 7, 2020, suggesting changing Article 47A of the
Indian Constitution to read:
“The State shall promote small family norms by offering incentives in taxes,
employment, education, etc. to its people who keep their family limited to two
children and shall withdraw every concession from and deprive such incentives to
those not adhering to the small family norm, to keep the growing population
The 2020 bill proposes to introduce a two-child policy per couple and aims to
incentivize its adoption through various measures such as educational benefits,
taxation cuts, home loans, free healthcare, and better employment opportunities.
The 2019 bill proposed by Sinha talks about introducing penalties for couples
not adhering to the two-child policy such as debarment from contesting in
elections and ineligibility for government jobs.
The question which remains unanswered is whether artificially trying to decrease
population by law and by intimidation, coerciveness, and bullying behavior,
feasible for a complex society like India? When China introduced the one-child
policy, it was appreciated by a lot in the world and especially in India.
However, the policy is said to have resulted in the formation of a strange
society known colloquially as a dystopian society. Because of the dystopia that
every family can only have one child, two new generations of Chinese children
have been born with no siblings, cousins, uncles, or aunts.
According to historical estimates, China's one-child policy, implemented in
1980, prevented 40 crore births, and the lesson for India is that when you try
to do things out of fear, without taking everything into account and you
interfere with the way nature and human beings think by using the brute power of
law or government, and try to change things too drastically, unmindful of the
consequences, then you can be sure you will be visited by unintended
consequences of what you are doing.
Population decline currently is important for India, but it would better be done
in a planned way with economic growth keeping pace with it and changing society
keeping pace with it. State using brute power to stop procreation is not only
against nature but also in violation of Article 21 of the India Constitution as
discussed in a judgement titled Jasvir Singh vs State of Punjab by Justice Surya
Kant in 2014,
“State has denied the right to procreate to the petitioners only because such a
right does not find any mention in the rulebooks or statutes. In the absence of
such a right having been spelled out in codified law, it cannot be assumed that
the petitioners’ prayer contravenes any law.
The denial of the right to procreate thus is alleged to be unreasonable and
arbitrary as such a right not being violative of any rule or law, its denial
amounts to be a monstrous violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.”
Many European countries and Japan are experiencing population aging, which is
increasing dependency ratios. The dependency ratio is the proportion of people
who are dependent on the state, such as retired adults and others who rely on
government assistance. The dependency ratio keeps on getting worse for countries
where average age keeps rising and average age keeps rising when countries do
not add new population. China’s average age currently stands at 38.
On the other hand, India’s average age is 28 years. China is currently getting
older and because they don’t have the same manpower anymore and because their
dependency ratio will now go up and put pressure on their very badly underfunded
pension system, on their public health system, on their old age care system and
when they grow old there will be very few young people to look after old people.
To address China's challenges with old people, the country is raising the
retirement age to relieve pressure on its pension system. Something Indian
legislatures should think about before introducing legislation for Indian
In 2016, the Chinese government relaxed population control laws and changed the
one-child policy to a two-child policy. According to available data, China's
population has moved on, and despite the government's allowance for more than
one baby, Chinese people are not procreating more babies, as evidenced by the
sharp decline in population growth since 2016. The consequence of the stunted
population growth is slowing down of China’s goal to be a global superpower as
the declining population will slow down the availability of manpower for China’s
economy and industry.
The lessons for India from the Chinese fiasco are that China's population growth
rate in the last ten years has been 0.53 percent per year, compared to 0.57
percent per year in the decade before that. It has declined, but the fact
remains that China has artificially controlled its population for quite some
India has taken its time as society has evolved, the economy has evolved, people
have become more aware, the infant mortality rate has decreased, India's health
care, despite its flaws, has improved, and India's birth rate has also decreased
dramatically. So, while India's net growth rate is roughly twice as high as
China's, it is exceptionally low by Indian standards.
In 1961, an Indian woman had 6 children on average. It is now down to 2.2. That
is a significant improvement. In China, however, it is 1.3, which is far too low
for a developing economy. Returning to India, states with higher literacy rates
and higher state capacity, particularly in Southern India, have fertility rates
comparable to, if not higher than, China. However, states that are otherwise
shambolic in terms of state capacity and governance, such as UP and Bihar, have
higher fertility rates. As a result, India has a fertility rate of 2.2 on
Therefore, if you consider all of this and realize that enforcing a policy that
specifically deals with humans or nature, such as this, can have consequences.
It hasn't worked for China, and it won't work for India.
It also states that, while India appears to be overcrowded, if we continue to
develop and grow our economy, and if we continue to tax it correctly and spend
it on welfare, medical facilities, and primary health care, our people will
become aware, and they will produce fewer and fewer children, as they have done
for the past 50 years.
Therefore, the better way to control population is to do it scientifically,
socially, economically, and in terms of development, not by law.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Kartikay Sharma
- A student of law at VIPS, Indraprastha University. The views expressed are personal.
Authentication No: JU115960150247-8-0621