But some experts argue that Karnataka doesn’t need such steps, pointing to the decreasing total fertility rate, which is the number of babies each woman is expected to have during her reproductive years. The rate reached a record low of 1.7 births per woman in 2020 compared to 3.6 in 1981, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS).
“For a state’s population to remain stable, the total fertility rate should be 2.1. Karnataka is way below that mark. And its rate is projected to fall to 1.5 by 2030, which is a dangerous trend,” said Dr Indrani K, an expert in fertility and reproductive medicine, quoting data from the NFHS.
Sociologist N Pushparaj believes that population control measures could lead to problems of imbalance in future. He cited the example of China, which enforced a one-child norm in the 1980s but later eased the rule because of a steep rise in aged dependents, insufficient people of working age and costly medical care.
Experts also say that a two-child policy may lead to issues such as an increase in female foeticide and unsafe abortions. The government has been making efforts to sensitise people, but data indicates that this practice is still rampant. Currently, Karnataka stands eighth among states with the most gender imbalance.
“Past studies have found that the one sure way to have an effective population-control policy is to focus on the education of the girl child in particular and the younger generation in general. In the 1970s, after the emergency, governments preferred to focus on the education of the girl child. Two decades later, the results were seen in the states which successfully implemented it. Those who benefited from education opted for smaller families. This is the route we need to follow to ensure population control,” said Sandeep Shastri, the vice-chancellor of the Jagran Lakecity University.
But BJP’s national secretary CT Ravi, who strongly backs implementation of the policy in the state, said that overpopulation was the root cause of many major issues. According to him, Karnataka will soon surpass the 7-crore mark, and this will only create more inequality in society and burden the state in sectors such as education and health.
UP’s proposed policy, which bars people with more than two children from applying for government jobs, seeking promotions in them or benefiting from government subsidies, will arrest the trend of overpopulation, Ravi added.