Population Policies and Two Child Norm

The 1950s and 60s witnessed the emergence of neo-Malthusian ideas that too many people reproducing too rapidly retards economic growth, destroys the environment, overstretches resources, exacerbates poverty. The prevalence and propagation of these thoughts has led to the development of a crisis mentality that generates extreme and narrow demographic assertions, which are neither ethically sound nor effective. Such an outlook fails to recognize that economic prosperity is independent of population size but depends heavily on how effectively the country invests in its people, giving them better facilities in spheres of general health, education, political, economic opportunities, etc. It forgets that human poverty has its roots in the denial of these opportunities and will persist in all countries irrespective of population size and fertility.

In India, the experiences that have emerged in the past five decades as a consequence of targeted population policies shows evidence that reflect gross violations against women, poor and marginalized communities in India. One of Sama’s primary concerns from its very inception has been to address the issue of prevailing anxiety over the population growth, resulting in coercive population policies like two child norm that invariably targets women, particularly those who are poor and underprivileged. Such policies only demonstrate how, in the name of protecting ‘national interest’, the state has pervaded the most private spheres of the individual.

Sama, individually and in association with other women’s and health groups, has been continually advocating against the two-child norm. These efforts have been instrumental in revoking the two-child norm in Madhya Pradesh.