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Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday sought to justify the state’s proposals for population control by arguing that a spurt in numbers was to blame for the inequality prevalent in society. He also urged people to spread awareness about overpopulation as a problem. This was a day after his administration proposed a two-child policy in a draft bill that would deny couples who have three or more children the benefits of state welfare coverage and also bar them from contesting local elections, applying for state jobs and getting promotions if state-employed, while offering sops to adherents of the state’s favoured family norm.

The discriminatory nature of the measures apart, no causal link has yet been established between population growth and inequality. Nor do such interventions boast of a good record, as seen in the case of China, which has eased clamps on family size. Also, India’s headcount is set to stabilize on its own, as our average births per woman are projected to dip soon to its replacement rate of 2.1. As Uttar Pradesh is part of this trend, the demographic spectre being conjured looks like a political ploy aimed at social polarization ahead of state elections in 2022.

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