Two children policy is a government policy of allowing two children per family and the payment of government subsidies only to the first two children. It was first used in Vietnam. Recently Assam government has decided that no government jobs will be given to persons having more than two children. This will come in effect after 1st January 2021. Assam will become the fourth state after Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan to have a two-child norm in government jobs
Need for two-child policy in India:
- Indian population is growing very fast and the Increasing population has been raising concerns for decades due to rising poverty, the decline in jobs and poor literacy rates. Child policy would help to control the fertility at a rapid pace as China did through its One-child policy.
- It will reduce the burden on land and resources.
- It will improve the living standards of the people.
- It would help in reducing carbon emissions and help in alleviating climate change.
Issues in the policy:
- It is discriminatory against the third child if the government stops all aids and subsidies to the family. It would be contrary to the fundamental right(Right to equality)
- Son preference is prevalent in rural as well as urban India. A legal restriction to two children forces couples to go for sex-selective abortions.
- A study was conducted between 2001 and 2004 to explore the consequence of two-child norm in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, MP, Odisha and Rajasthan. It was found that there was an increase in desertion and bigamy, neglect and death of female infants, cases of prenatal sex determination, etc.
- India is a signatory to the national conference on Population and development declaration in 1954. According to which India made a commitment to the international community that India will honour the individual rights of the couples to decide the number of children they want to have.
Government efforts relating population control:
- World population day is celebrated on 11th July. It is celebrated over a month-long period, first 15 days for mobilization/sensitization and the next 15 days for family planning service delivery.
- Home delivery of contraceptives by the ASHA worker to the beneficiaries.
- Boost to spacing methods.
- Scheme for ASHAs to ensure spacing in birth and incentives are provided to ASHAs. This scheme is implemented in 18 states of the country
- To ensure spacing of 2 years after marriage Rs 500
- To ensure spacing of 3 years after the birth of 1st child Rs500
- In case the couple opts for a permanent limiting method up to 2 children only Rs1000
- Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh (National population stabilization fund) has adopted the following Strategies as a control measure for the population control
- Prerna strategy:- Objective of this strategy is to push up the age of marriage of girls and delay in first child and spacing in second childbirth in the interest of healthy young mothers and infants. The couple who adopt this strategy awarded suitably.
- Santushti Strategy:- Private sector Gynaecologists and vasectomy surgeons are invited to conduct sterilization in the Public-private partnership model. The private hospitals/nursing home who achieved the target to 10 or more are suitably awarded.
- The government established National helpline number 1800116555 providing free advice on reproductive health, family planning, maternal health, etc.
- Government is also focusing on the awareness campaign, workshops, walkathon, and other activities at the national, state, district and block level.
With these efforts, Total fertility rate has declined considerably and between 1992-93 and 2015-16, it is declined by 1.2 children( from 3.4 children in 1992-93 to 2.2 in 2015-16).
According to NFHS-4, 24 States & Union Territories have already achieved the TFR of 2.1 or below which is close to replacement level fertility.
However, the population continues to proliferate in the empowered action group states that are Odisha, Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. These states excluding Odisha will account for nearly two-thirds of the increase in India’s Population during 2021-41.
Reasons for failure in such states are:
- 85% of women in Bihar and 54% in Madhya Pradesh do not use any contraception. This situation is not different in Uttar Pradesh and Orissa.
- Those who know about contraception don’t have access to it.
- Those who know about contraception and have access to it does that in the most unhygienic and inhumane conditions. For example, According to reports, Doctors are performing surgeries with torchlight in Chatra district, using a cycle pump to fill carbon dioxide in the fallopian tube.
- Healthy workers are not trained properly to spread awareness.
International examples :
- United States of America launched the Title X family program in 1970. The objective of this program was to provide contraceptive services, supplies, and information regarding birth control. In particular, the low-income group was given priority and in 2014, the program successfully prevented two million unintended pregnancies.
- In Indonesia, the Banjar system is practised under which the community spreads awareness regarding birth control measures. Village family planning groups are formed by the government to mould fertility behaviour among people. The country has also involved religious leaders to cater to its Muslim population. The Banjar program has seen a major shift in the attitude of religious leaders, who actively supported it.
- Similarly, Bangladesh has achieved the lowest total fertility rate in south Asia through family welfare assistants. Under this, volunteer pay door to door visits and advise mothers about the use of contraceptives and provide free one every two weeks.
- The two-pronged approaches of health system strengthening and population control may work in states such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
- For other states which are near to replacement fertility, more resource move into health system strengthening and core health priorities such as noncommunicable diseases, drug availability and human resource deployment, etc.
- It is often said that “Development is the best contraceptive” and India needs to learn lessons from various countries above stated and adopt a multisectoral regional approach according to the ground realities.
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