POPULATION CONTROL POLICIES: A ROAD TOWARDS DOOM OR DAWN? by-Adhishree Nolkha & Tushar Jain
Population growth is leading to depletion in the Earth’s natural resources and also blighting the capacity of our life supporting eco-system. This growth has expansively changed in the environment over the previous 50 years, as compared to any other period. This change primarily occurred to get the basic demands like water, fuel, electricity etc. Such consumption of environment, together with exponentially inclining population has led us to think on controlling population. People often consider demography as a fate, but the inclination of population in developing countries is a major hindrance. In the rankings of most populated countries, China and India are at the top of the table. In recent years, there have been prominent gains made in an attempt to control population by many countries of the world, likewise India is endeavouring to do the same. In further parts, the researcher will discuss whether the said policy is going to help India in the long run or is it just a temporary solution and whether controlling population is what Countries should endeavour to achieve.
Keywords – Population growth, population control, Uttar Pradesh Population Bill, Two child norm
At no time in history has there been so many people on our planet as of right now. The population over the world has increased in a catapult manner of which no one had ever thought of. In the past few decades, the population has risen up from 3.032 billion in 1960 to 7.753 billion in 2020.2 The world population has multiplied in twofold manner over a century. So, what should we expect for the future?
In the decade of 1960s, the increase in population had reached an unprecedented rate. This increase in population had led the homosapieninto the contemplation of catastrophic prophecies.It was believed by the poor people that, if they procreate endlessly then they will overrun the world. This philosophy was considered to be responsible for the upbringing of the legend of overpopulation. But gradually it turned out that population explosion and high birth are not only the perpetual features of overpopulation. Instead, overpopulation was regarded as a four-step process known as the Demographic Transition.Before diving into the concept of Demographic transition, we need to understand the concept of population explosion and its reasons. The pyramiding of numbers of human population is population explosion. In simpler terms, a sudden increase in the population is termed as population explosion. The reason of the same is the demographic transition.3
Now, the changing patterns of mortality, fertility and growth rates as societies transition through demographic regimes is the theory of Demographic Transition. The classical model of demographic transition has four stages namely Pre-Transition, Early Transition, Late Transition and Post-Transition. Pre-Transition stage is characterised by high birth rates and fluctuating high death rates, which starts to fall in the Early Transition stage though the birth rate remains high and population starts growing rapidly. In the late transition stage, birth rate starts to decline and the population growth also slows down. In the post-transition period, the population growth is negligible or even enters a declining rate because of low birth and death rates. The same can be illustrated in the graph below.4
Nevertheless, the theory of demographic transition contradicts the famous theory of Pearl Reed.Pearl and Reed theory explains why the human population will keep growing in an ‘S’ shaped curve, concave for the point of inflection and convex afterwards.5It cannot be specified whether the policies for growing population be based on demographic transition theory or Pearl-Reed theory but the concern of controlling population has sure taken not only India or China but the world in a loop.
India has been facing problem of overpopulation since long before Independence and continues to do so.India had passed its 520 million marks in mid-1968 which meant that every seventh person in the world was an Indian. With a land area of 2.4% of the world and the present estimated population of around 17% of the World, India is facing a serious population explosion. India is taking measures to solve the increasing population problem. In the Concurrent list, entry 20A was added by Forty Second Amendment to include ‘Population Control and Family Planning’.Therefore, in an attempt to control this problem, Indian states have made many efforts. Recently, Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilization and Welfare) Bill, 2021(draft) has been introduced in UP which in turn is the sixth largest and the most populated state in India which has a population of 20.42 crores in 2012.6
This research paper is aimed to know and analyse the problem of overpopulation. The researchers in this paper are assuming that the policies enacted for restraining the problem of overpopulation in India are achieving the objective. At the end, the researcher will show whether the hypothesis is proved or disproved.
The researcher intends to follow Doctrinal research in order to analyse the effectiveness of the theme.The researchers while undergoing this research work have relied onarticles, newspaper reports, official websites and journals. The researchers, using this methodology will get a meticulous representation of the subject matter of this paper.
Review of Literature
- The“Population Problem Since the World War”by B. Wolfe7states that the distribution of population is an ecological problem where natural regions plays a great role in feeding the population. If the population is huge and the country has natural resources to support it, with labour, efficient business organisations, superior financial resources can counterbalance the impediment of a large population. The dynamic issue of migration and settlement which is also an aspect of population distribution. After the Second World War, the concerns regarding and interest related to migration had specially increased. Regulation on migration is considered as an international matter and in 1924, International Migration Conference was held at Rome with 57 countries. The author further talks about the Pearl Reed Theory of population growth which reveals an ‘S’ shaped growth rate. It is inevitable that the population would grow but the rate at which it grows would be higher in the initial stage and would gradually decrease after the peak. The same is happening with the countries where population rose rapidly and now the growth rate is slowly decreasing.
- The “Ageing Population Management”by Carol T. Kulik et all8,discusses the societal, organisational and individual challenges to the ageing population and its management. Ageing population postures new challenges to management practice and increases the dependence on youth. Children depend on adults and when these children grow, the adults depend on their children; this system has been followed indefinitely and with an increase in aged population, the dependence on youth would certainly increase. Along with this, it would also challenge the social norms of fairness and equality and it would need a change in traditional patterns of entry, progression and exit of a career. The problem can be partly solved through immigration of young adults from different countries. Further, if the government raises the retirement age and retirement benefits with age, it would allow and motivate the aged to be employed for a longer period though they may need to change jobs and the employer, and we need to accommodate with the needs of the aged employees. Their population can be a positive as well as negative thing. It would lead people to look forward to a longer and happier life though it would put pressure on the resources of the country. Currently, Indian population consists of more youthwhich in future will be dependent on the next generation. As per this statement, the then upcoming generation will not be able to take care and provide all the amenities to the previous one’s which get our focus on this hindrance for controlling population. But it can be tackled by introducing policies towards elderly benefits so that they can take care of themselves.
UTTAR PRADESH POPULATION (CONTROL, STABILIZATION & WELFARE) DRAFT BILL, 2021
A change in Uttar Pradesh’s policy with regards to population is a big change yet not surprising considering it is the most populated state with more than 24 crore people and a home to every sixth Indian. If it was separated as a country, it would be fifth largest country in terms of population.9 Uttar Pradesh has already been suffering from population explosion and it would most definitely result in a dystopian future with the current rate of increase in population. The bill seeks to reduce gross fertility rate by encouraging small families, providing incentives and disincentives. The bill also provides for constitution of a State Population fund which shall be utilized for the purposes of this act10 and also specifies the duties of the Government which includes encouraging use of and distributing contraceptive pills, condoms, etc. and spreading awareness about family planning.
In the 8500 suggestions that were received by the law commission which has been divided into 53 sections, some have appreciated the steps taken by the government while some have criticized the bill. One of the many suggestions that the commission has received includes ‘allowing third child after 2 daughters’ which has been widely criticized for being problematic and sexist.11The suggestion, if implemented will cause further imbalance in the sex ratio which is already lamentable.It will further lead to increase in female foeticide and pre-natal sex determination and will also reinforce the idea that women are not as capable as men or that men are superior to women. Though this is a suggestion, yet it throws light on the kind of thinking the people have out there and what the policy seeks to achieve.It is a conjecture that the policy might do more harm than good.
“Population Control Bill is not guaranteeing control of population but rather guarantee the control of women and destruction of society.”
Shortcomings of the Policy
Though the policy is aimed at reducing population by targeting fertility rate, it fails to take into consideration that Uttar Pradesh’s fertility is already declining (from 4.82 in 1993 to 2.7 in 2016), and that it is not that people are having more children but the youth population of the state is high. It will also create a problem in the long run. As mentioned earlier, the youth population is huge in the present times and thus the growing population will at a time in future will lead to old age generation more than that compared as youth. India in future is bound to face the problem of population aging, though that would further accelerate if this policy is implemented.
Most importantly, the bill violates a person’s Right to Choose,guaranteed by the Constitution of India under Article 21.12 Though the Constitution doesn’t specifically grant the Right to Choose on the number of children that one can have, but if taken in a broad sense, it would lie within the ambit of the same. Moreover, the bill also violates Amnesty International Sexual and Reproductive Rights13. Amnesty has been campaigning to liberate people from their government’s interference in their reproductive choices. Other than the fact that it violates an individual’s rights and population aging, it would also create the problem of increased illegal abortions.
Another important issue that has to be noted is that the policy differentiates between disabled children and abled children. According to the policy, a couple can have a third child if the earlier child born with disability.14 The state is treating the child with a disability as no child by allowing to have a third child. This, on the onset might seem to be a trivial issue, howeverif taken from the child’s perspective, it creates doubts in their mind and further underpins the idea that a person with disability will always be lacking.
Section 14 of the Proposed bill limits a couple to adopting only 1 child if they have 1 or 2 children born out of pregnancy, and if a couple doesn’t have any child, they can adopt 2 children and not more than that.15At a time where India’s younger population is in a dire need of help and thousands of children who are raised in an orphanage or on roads in brutal and inhumane conditions, Uttar Pradesh Government by enforcing this bill seeks to discourage people from adopting children is incomprehensible.
The Government is proposing to give many incentives to the family who follow the two-child policy. One of which is that if a couple had a single child, that child would be given more preference at the time of admissions in colleges included but not limited to IIM, AIIMS, etc.16
Though this preferential treatment might encourage parents to have a single child, it will not be fair to the children who have siblings and especially unfair to children born out of same pregnancies. The system of reservation that India follows right now is to uplift those people however, in case of a single child, it isn’t to uplift the child because of some discrimination that they faced in past but just because they are a single child.
PLAN OF ACTION FOR POPULATION CONTROL
This part provides the steps taken in regards to the development of population goals. It provides brief on the policies enacted in some of the states and its impact.
1. States’ Modus Operandi
Policies for Population Control cannot be taken into effect while the support of citizens is not achieved. Thus, such policies can be regarded as a societal policy. Societal policy isconcerned with how states and communities adapt to global issues such as poverty,migration, and globalisation, as well as social, demographic, and economic change.
As per the current growth rate, India will be at the top in the list of most populated countries by the end of this century. According to the report of medical journal “The Lancet”, Indiapopulation will be at highest by 2047.17Taking into consideration the future growth of population, few States have independently pursued to tackle the problem of population growth.
At this point in time, not only Uttar Pradesh but states like Assam and Lakshadweep being Union Territory are also into the process of implementation of the “Two-Child Norm” for the people of the state with an objective to control population from growing more.
Till date, 12 states have introduced Two-Child Norm in their territories. These states include Uttarakhand, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar and Assam.18As per this policy, any person having more than two children is not eligible to be elected or even nominated to the local bodies or Panchayat elections. Also, few states have made it applicable on people applying for government jobs by barring them from availing benefits of various government schemes on having more than two children. Nevertheless, the States had implemented the policy as per their prerequisites. Meanwhile, Uttarakhand has set up boards for preparing a draft law of population control law and land law in Himalayan area.19 Orissa while stressing on the grave problem of increasing unemployment, poverty and hunger are inthe process of enacting stringent laws for checking population growth.20State government of Andhra Pradesh is more focused on temporary solutions by encouraging the married couples for use of oral contraceptive, condoms many more methods.21Rajasthan’s Health Minister, Raghu Sharma has also said that it is time to introduce ‘Hum do, Humareek’ (one child per family) policy in the country.Maharashtra has the two child norm for 21 years and in turn also enacted law like the Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) Rule of 200522,which defines a family as a group of four people and if more than that, the said parents will not be eligible for government jobs.23Bihar’s Chief Minister has shown his distaste in the bill and has applauded himself for dramatic rise in woman’s education and thus, reduced fertility rates.24 While on the other hand, the chief minister of Assam, HimantaBiswa Sharma has also initiated a similar policy of population control and norm-has-never-been-demonstrated-says-population-foundation-of-indias-poonam- muttreja/article35061693.ece> accessed 21 August 2021. has stated that it will be meant for the development of minority community of Assam. He added that the Government would restrict certain policies to two-child norm.
Also, few states have repealed this policy. The States which have revoked this norm are Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. The reason for such abolishment was the impact of ill-effects on the declining sex ratio in the concerned states leading to an imbalance in society.25
However, it is apparent that the politicians are still playing their ‘Game of Thrones’ while ignoring the consequences that the experts have been pointing out and which can be seen from the result of other countries’ policies, especially China which shall be discussed in further parts.
It is an undeniable fact that Indian population is growing with an extensive rate and that it will certainly be ahead of all the countries in terms of population. The reports from East Asia Forum have showed that by 2050, India’s population in total is expected to be around 1.69 billion and in the same year China’s population would be 1.31 billion.26Henceforth, the Central Government while making an attempt towards population control, had introduced the “Population Control Bill” in 201927. Here the intention of the supreme governing authority was to stop the growing Indian population by every means possible.It was brought as the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2020, further amending the Article 47 A of the Constitution of India.28 The most essential ingredient of this bill was the imposition of Two Child Norm on the territory of India. It was guaranteed that if a couple followed the rules of this bill, then they will be eligible to the incentives provided by the government in accordance to this bill. The incentives included are benefits in terms of educational, taxation, loans for construction of home, health care services as well as employment generation and upgradation. Against the benefits or incentives provided, the Government has also imposed certain restriction which are; couples having more than two children will be barred from contesting in elections or nominations, not eligible to apply for government jobs and not provided with any kind of financial benefits. This bill also provides preferential discrimination for candidates having more than two children. This bill gives the Government a reason to not indulge when the parents and their children die with the lack of food, health care and other things.
Earlier to this, the Government had focused on the problem of population in the aspects of development and sustainable growth in future. Therefore, it can be related by the people who were born around 1980’s where the government started the Ad campaign of a slogan that “Hum do, humare do”. The new bill though had ability to change the social fabric of India itself, it could not deliver the change needed.
As per the data available, it can be inferred that there was no population explosion. Rather, it was all the opposite29 as the women in India had a fertility rate of 630 at around 1960’s which had almost declined to a rate of 2.2 by 2018.
It can be understood by this bill that the major sufferers of this will be women residing in the Indian territory. The reason being that the Indian tradition does not allow wives an option to refuse to having sex and are asked to use non-voluntary birth control measures. Such conducts will be beneficially used only when there is a law regarding the same and such law will submissively legalise measures like use of contraceptive, sterilisation and insertion of intrauterine devices. Therefore, after taking into consideration all the impacts of this bill, it can be said that instead of bringing a Population Control bill, the legislature should think of bringing a Population Investment Bill, which gives a priority to healthcare and education.
3. Global Brawl against Population
The majority of regions and countries are undergoing unparalleled demographic upheaval. Not only is the human population increasing at an unmatched pace but also aging which is driven by a considerable increase in life expectancy of people with the help of better healthcare facilities.31 With the increasing population, many countries are going through unemployment and underemployment in view of the fact that people entering the market for seeking jobs is much more than available jobs. China, U.S., Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil and many more are such countries. Many developing countries’ population policies place a strong emphasis on population control, with the objective of lowering fertility rates to provide food& security, enough employment, and basic social, educational, and health services while also reducing strain on natural resources. The countries have taken steps to control its population over the years. Though the population control hasn’t entirely worked in the positive manner, the negative aspects of the same are ignored for want of desired goal.32
However, not all countries around the globe are trying to reduce their population, rather some are attempting to increase their population. Such countries have also been mentioned below and the reason behind such move of theirs.
China has the largest population in the World and this huge population has led to a shortage of natural resources. Beijing has been facing water shortage for more than 10 years and Shanghai has bad air quality due to increase in vehicle use. As a result of which, China started pursuing family planning policies and campaign slogans which endorsed the idea of late marriages, longer spacing between births, fewer births and likewise. China then adopted the ‘One Child Policy’ or ‘One Child One Couple’ policy in 1980s. Though the policy for was relaxed for rural couples who relied greatly on their children, mainly sons. The Government in 2002 allowed couples to have second child after obtaining a special certificate which was given after some conditions were fulfilled like mother should be 28 years old and the second birth should take place at least four years after the first birth.33 In 2012, a think accessed 15 October 2021.
tank called ‘China Development Research Foundation’ recommended immediate implementation of two child policy in some of the provinces since ‘China has paid a huge price, both political and social for the policy which has indirectly resulted in a gender imbalance at birth and much greater social conflict with huge administrative costs. The tank also recommended a national two child policy by 2015 and removal of all limits by 2020.34
In 2016, China scrapped its decades old ‘One Child Policy’ and encouraged couples to have more children due to the slow pace of births. Although the same could not happen because of high expenditure as a result of which China faced slowest birth rate. The Chinese Government has recently announced that it will allow couples to have up to three children. The Governments will also provide supportive measures to improve country’s population structure. However, citizens and economists have questioned the same asking if relaxing these policies would result in more births since today’s ‘Youth’ doesn’t want big families. 35
Vietnam has had a strict population strategy for the past 50 years, with the objective of limiting population size through lowering the birth rate. Vietnam has been trying to formulate a policy towards reducing population growth since 1960s. Its policy evolution can be divided into three periods- Initiation (1960s and 70s), maturity (1980’s and 90’s) and Legalization (2000s and early 2010s). In 1960’s, Vietnam had a birth rate of 6 children per woman on an average. In order to reduce the Birth rate, Vietnam initiated population policies with the aim of promoting social norm of small family size. In 1988, the government enacted its first birth control legislation, with the goal of lowering the country’s Total Fertility Rate. Couples were urged to restrict their family size to two children by marrying late in life, postponing childbearing until beyond the age of 22, and spacing the first and second births by 3-5 years. The Government was able to lower TFR to 2 children per woman.However, it led to the problem of population ageing. If Vietnam continues to focus on birth control, population ageing will further increase owing to the fact that it would result in lower birth rate and high life expectancy. 36
3.3 Population Inclination
The world has been dealing with the issue of population, though not all countries are framing their policies towards reducing it. Some countries like Australia, France, Germany, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and now China are encouraging couples to have more children. It is because these countries are encountering fertility rates below the replacement rate and if fertility rates were to remain constant, it would result in muddle of aging population. In order to counter these, the Governments are adopting policies towards increasing birth rates. Turkey, for instance, gives 300 Turkish Lira to couples for their first born, 400 Turkish Lira for their second born and 600 Turkish Lira for third and subsequent children. The Government however doesn’t provide for financial support to large and needy families. Other policies to encourage childbirth include extended maternity and paternity leave, part time work, flexible working hours, work at home and nursery, pre-school and after- school care services to working couples. It is to be noted that the cost of these policies is very significant. France’s extensive family planning costs it almost 4% of GDP.37
India is not the first country to think of controlling its population, though it can be the first to understand and analyse the consequences of population control in other countries. As discussed above, the countries which have tried to control its population are facing the problem of a serious population ageing and sex ratio imbalance’s. These problems rise because of the measures taken by government to reduce population by reducing birth rates. On the other hand, some countries are trying to increase their population so that no question arises on their existence. According to UNFPA, India has the largest youth population38 and therefore the problem of population ageing is bound to happen but the same could be worsened by population control measures. Talking about the bill which is going to be introduced in Uttar Pradesh’s, current youth population will have to depend on future generations which is good. At the same time, it is indeed facing this swarming population which needs to be balanced keeping in mind preservation of nature and what it can handle. We cannot solve everything by reducing population, rather we need to understand it in a broad concept as well as its aftermath.
So, will the Proposed Bill, which is seeking to reduce population, do any good or else it would inflict more harm than good? This cannot fit in a simple yes or no but if we compare the positive aspect of the good with its downside, we can conclude that the track of controlling population will lead to a great downside. Further, while considering the impact of the similar policies in certain countries like China and Australia which are aiming at increasing fertility rates after reducing it, the authors cansafely conclude that at the very least the Population Control Bill that Uttar Pradesh Government has proposed, will not tackle this problem.
Furthermore, what the Government can work on is to introduce a policy on Population Investment which aims towards educating citizens, providing adequate healthcare, raising awareness about use of contraceptives and family planning, encouraging people to talk about and give sex education and not consider it as a taboo. If the citizens are aware about the problem surrounding them and if they are open to talk about the same, it would be easier for the government to tackle the problem.
“CONTROLLING ISN’T THE ANSWER, BUT EDUCATING IS…”
1 Students at Institute of Law, Nirma University and Faculty of Law, Marwadi University
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