Two-Child Policy

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    Recently, a woman officer from the Maharashtra Prison Department has been dismissed from service for violating the Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) Rules, 2005.

    About the Maharashtra Rules

    • The Rules define a small family as wife, husband and two children and stipulate that a person is not eligible for a job with Maharashtra Government if he or she has more than two children after 2005.
      • However, the definition of child under these rules does not include adopted children.
    • The set of norms came into force in Maharashtra in March 2005 and mandated filing a small family declaration at the time of applying for a government job.
    • The rules make the Small Family norm an additional essential requirement for Groups A, B, C, D of Maharashtra government employees.
    • The rules also empower the state government to give relaxation in ‘just and reasonable’ manner and mandates recording such reasons.
    • Exemptions
      • A person having more than two children on the date commencement of the rule (28th March 2005) shall not be disqualified for appointment under these provisions so long as the number of children on the date of such commencement does not increase.
      • Also, provided that one or more than one children are born in a single delivery within an year of the commencement, shall not be considered for the disqualification of the rules.
    • The Maharashtra Zilla Parishads And Panchayat Samitis Act disqualifies people who have more than two children from contesting local body elections.
    • It is one of the few states in India which have a ‘two children’ policy for appointment in government jobs or even for the elections of some local government bodies.

    Two Child Policy in India

    • While there is no national policy mandating two children per family yet, the Union Government has from time to time introduced the Promotion of Two Child Norm Bill.
    • In February 2020, a Private Member’s Constitution Amendment Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha with regard to the family size.
      • It proposed that a new provision, Article 47A (Duty of the State to promote small family norm) should be added in Part IV of the Constitution, which deals with the Directive Principles of the State Policy (DPSP).
        • In 2002, the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution also recommended inserting Article 47A into the Constitution to control population explosion.
      • It also offered incentives in taxes, employment, education, priority in social benefit schemes, etc on compelling the norms.

    State Level 

    Restrictions for Candidates with More than Two Child 

    Rajasthan

    • Not eligible for government jobs appointments.
    • Will be disqualified from contesting election as a Panch or a member as per Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Act, 1994. However, the two-child norm was relaxed in case of a disabled child.

    Madhya Pradesh

    • If a 3rd child was born on or after 26th January 2001, one becomes ineligible for government service and also applies to higher judicial services as per Madhya Pradesh Civil Services (General Condition of Services) Rules, 1961.
    • Two child norms related to local body elections were discontinued in 2005.

    Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

    • Disqualification from contesting election as per Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act, 1994.
    • Disqualification from contesting election as per Telangana Panchayat Raj Act, 1994.

    Gujarat

    • Disqualification from contesting elections for bodies of local self-governance after amendment in Gujarat Local Authorities Act.

    Uttarakhand

    • Restriction on contesting elections of zila panchayat and blocks development committee membership.

    Odisha 

    • The Odisha Zilla Parishad Act, 1991 bars contesting elections for bodies of local self-governance.

    Assam

    • In 2019, Assam Cabinet decided that candidates will be ineligible for government jobs from 2021.

    Rationale and Criticism

    • These mandatory norms were formulated with an intention to set an example before citizens for following two-child policy for population control.
      • India’s population has crossed 125 crores and is expected to surpass China in the next couple of decades.
      • Despite the National Population Control Policy, 2000, India is the second-most populous country in the world.
      • Uncontrolled population leads to overburdened and over-exploited resources and poor implementation of public policies
    • As a policy it was also meant to discourage people from having more than two children by barring them from the prospects of government service.
    • However, the two child norm calls for more informed consensus on the issue and wider implementation.
    • India’s birth rate is already slowing down to sustainable levels.
      • Data from the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) showed a decline in the average number of children borne by a woman, and proved that the country’s population is stabilising.
    • Such policies will lead to a shortage of young educated people capable of driving India’s innovation needs in the technological revolution.
      • In 2000, the fertility rate was still relatively high at 3.2 children per woman. By 2016, that number had already fallen to 2.3 children.
    • China has a similar one-child policy which has led to issues like gender imbalance, undocumented children, etc. and these will be experienced by India as well.

    Source: IE