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28 Sep 2021, 21:15 HRS IST
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  • MPs' call for two-child norm ill-founded as India's fertility

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20:47 HRS IST

rate goes down: ARC

New Delhi, Dec 26 (PTI)
A call by parliamentarians for introducing a two-child norm policy is "not appropriate" as India's fertility rate has gone down in the last decade, says a coalition working on reproductive health and family planning.

The coalition, however, welcomed the opinion expressed by MPs on the need to revise the National Population Policy of 2000, saying there was an urgent need to define the country's approach towards population stabilisation in line with its commitment to the global 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

"The call for introducing a policy with a two child norm in anticipation of a 'demographic catastrophe' is not appropriate, given the fact that in the last decade (2005-06 - 2015-16), India's total fertility rate (TFR) has gone down from 2.7 to 2.2," the Advocating Reproductive Choices (ARC) coalition said.

This, they said, was close to the desired replacement level fertility at 2.1.

A demand for revising the National Population Policy 2000 and introducing a new policy with a two-child norm was made in the Lok Sabha recently, with a BJP member expressing concern over an impending "demographic catastrophe".

The demand was made by Raghav Lakhanpal Sharma as he moved a private resolution seeking implementation of a stringent population control policy to check the population explosion.

The coalition said that in the past, in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where law had debarred women with more than two children from benefits, there was a rise in sex-selective abortions, incidents of women being deserted, or giving their children up for adoption.

"With a skewed child sex ratio (0-6 years) of 919 girls per 1,000 boys, India can ill afford a restrictive two-child norm that would further discriminate against the girl child," the coalition said.

It argued that institutionalising such a policy would "undo" decades of efforts undertaken to establish a rights-based approach to family planning, which was adopted as part of India's commitment at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994.

"The proposed approach will not only tilt towards a coercive and target-driven policy, but will also impinge on individual freedom and imply that it was not the people, but the numbers that matter.

"Pushing for an 'anti-natalist' policy resting on coercion and disincentives is an unacceptable direction and has proven to be counterproductive on innumerable instances," it said in the statement.

"At this moment there is need to reflect on how states such as Kerala, with a TFR of 1.6, reduced its fertility rates by investing in long-term measures like educating and empowering girls and women by ensuring equal rights and improving health care delivery," it added.

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