The government of Uttar Pradesh, a hugely populated Indian state, may soon implement new policies aimed at combating overpopulation by limiting the number of large families in the area.
The proposed new policies include cash incentives for parents who decide to have only one child, as well as free healthcare and education. On the other hand, anti-overpopulation rules would include sanctions for larger families. They would include bans on working for the public administration and inability to access economic incentives.
The most perplexing detail is the possibility of volunteering for sterilization. In exchange? Tax refunds, higher government wages and subsidies for homeowners. A move that critics say will force many on the brink of poverty to capitulate.
The timing of the new anti-overpopulation policy is impressive. In neighboring China, once known for its "one-child" law, restrictions have eased, now allowing couples to have three children over fears its population could enter a period of sustained decline. (Which is actually expected, and not just for China, by the end of the century).
Even though India's proposed one-off payment for parents having a girl is higher than for a boy, critics still worry that the policies will end up being coercive towards women and minorities. Some are particularly concerned as the country still grapples with the consequences of a forced sterilization campaign that has targeted millions of people since the 70s. The atavistic "fight against overpopulation" in Indian style it has already led to many deaths and failed procedures.
“Population control measures may lead to a spike in sex-selective practices and unsafe abortions given the strong preference for sons in India. It's happened in some states before,” he says Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the nonprofit Population Foundation of India.
“Whenever there is control of overpopulation, it all leads to violence against women,” says feminist activist Kavitha Krishnan.