NEW DELHI: Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populated state, has proposed legislation to discourage couples from having more than two children, making it the second state governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party to do so.
With 240 million inhabitants, Uttar Pradesh would be the world’s sixth most populated country, and population density in the northern state is more than double the national average.
Couples having more than two children would not be eligible for government benefits or subsidies, according to state government proposals unveiled on Saturday. They would also be prevented from applying for state government jobs.
Due to the state’s “limited ecological and economic resources at hand,” the bill states, “it is imperative and urgent that the basic necessities of human life are accessible to all residents.”
Uttar Pradesh’s per capita income is less than half of the national average.
While the proposal ostensibly aims to promote awareness about the need to control India’s 1.34 billion people, its undertone underscores right-wing Hindu organisations’ underlying view that Muslims are attempting to “overtake” Hindus.
The campaign, which is based on Islamophobia, is being promoted both in person and online.
As WhatsApp groups disseminate messages stoking fear and anger, Facebook posts spread the conspiracy notion that India’s Muslims, who number around 200 million, would one day overtake the country’s 966 million Hindus.
State legislators would have to ratify the draught law, which is up for public comment until July.
India does not have a national two-child policy, despite the fact that it is anticipated to overtake China as the world’s most populous country by 2027.
Last month, the northeastern state of Assam, which is also run by Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, unveiled plans for a similar move that would deprive families with more than two children of government benefits.
Assam’s Chief Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, has stated that the idea is part of an effort to control the state’s Bengali-speaking Muslims, who have ties to Bangladesh.
Uttar Pradesh is home to a large Muslim population and is led by Hindu hardliner Yogi Adityanath.
Incentives for two-child families that choose voluntary sterilisation include soft loans for building or home purchases, as well as rebates on utility bills and property taxes, according to the state’s draught law.
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