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The government has told the Supreme Court that it’s not in favour of taking coercive steps to control India’s population growth. In response to a public interest litigation, the Centre said that limiting the number of children a family can have would be counterproductive and could cause demographic imbalances. This is a sensible stance. While the country’s headcount, at over 1.3 billion, is often seen as a strain on our resources, population pessimism is the relic of an earlier era of Malthusian worries. Today, more people are seen to form a larger potential market for goods and services. Equipping our multitudes to generate value is the real challenge.

In any case, voluntary family planning seems to have led our “population explosion" to burn itself out. India’s total fertility rate, or the average number of children that a woman bears over her reproductive life, fell from 3.2 in 2000 to 2.2 in 2018. Soon, it’s expected to fall to the replacement fertility level of 2.1, after which births would balance deaths and our headcount will stabilize. There’s no case for intervention in people’s reproductive liberty. Let’s just ensure everyone has access to good education and easy credit.

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