For population control, India is eyeing Chinas one-child policy but some see Hindu nationalism at work South China Morning Post

Enforcement of the policy had begun to loosen by the early 2000s, as horrific stories of forced abortions and botched sterilizations caused policymakers to rethink the rule. But starting in 2005, the authorities began enforcing the policy with a renewed ferocity in Linyi. She already had two children and had gone through four abortions afterward, to avoid paying the ruinously high “social maintenance fee” demanded from families as penalty when they contravened birth limits. She wanted to avoid the “family planning officials” in her home village, just outside Linyi, a city of 11 million in China’s northern Shandong province, where the policy’s enforcement was especially violent.

They may also deny state-provided healthcare for mothers and children, including nutritional supplements for pregnant women. While there are no national two-child policy in India as of July 2021, there are local laws. These family planning laws are aimed toward politicians, both current and aspiring. Under the policy, people running in panchayat (local government) elections can be disqualified if they have not respected the two-child policy. The idea behind the law is that ordinary citizens will look up to their local politicians and follow their family size example. On May 31, China announced a landmark policy shift to allow couples to have three children in an attempt at raising its flagging birth rate.

  • China’s one-child policy was controversial because it was a radical intervention by government in the reproductive lives of citizens, because of how it was enforced, and because of some of its consequences.
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  • Although the population has been a problem acknowledged by the government, it has been growing continuously, non-stop.
  • From the one-child policy, China avoided around 300 million births, meaning she has averted 1.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2005 based on average world per capita emissions of 4.2 tonnes (Doyle).
  • China began promoting the use of birth control and family planning with the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949, though such efforts remained sporadic and voluntary until after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976.
  • In both countries, skewed sex ratios caused by sex selective abortions have led to a range of social problems, including forced marriages and human trafficking.

In 2000, the fertility rate was still a relatively high 3.3 children per woman. Furthermore, India’s economy was growing 6% per year in the years leading up to 2019, more than enough to support modest population growth. There are laws in some states that apply penalties to ordinary citizens for having more than two children. These disincentives include denying government rights to children born after the second child.

In turn, these motivations are related to rising parental aspirations for children and for their own consequent social mobility (analogous to explanations for fertility decline in the 1970s and 1980s in China – Greenhalgh 1988). Furthermore, this expansion of aspirations can be related to the nature of the rapid economic growth in the country. This growth has opened up the possibility of very high returns on education, but only for a few. That is, as employment opportunities have not kept pace with educational growth competition for scarce jobs increases. But despite a lower fertility rate, the country’s population is still growing. The irony is that India’s birth rate and the size of families are decreasing because of women’s own reproductive choices.

Why is the one-child policy controversial?

With data from China’s 2020 census highlighting an impending demographic and economic crisis, the Chinese government announced in 2021 that married couples would be allowed to have as many as three children. As happened at the height of China’s one-child policy, Indians could lose government jobs and more if such laws were passed at the national level. Some Indian states and municipalities have already legislated that people with more than two children are ineligible for government jobs and to stand for political office. As happened at the height of China’s one-child policy, Indians could lose government jobs and more if such laws were passed at the national level.

“Young comrades should start with themselves, and old comrades should educate and supervise their children,” officials said in the now-deleted memo, according to screenshots published by state media. The document stated that after nearly four decades of the “one-child policy,” Yichang’s fertility rate fell below 1.0 at the time. The state of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with a population larger than Brazil, has announced draft legislation which would see anyone with more than two children denied state benefits, subsidies and government jobs. After a family has two children, there will also be incentives if one of the parents undergoes voluntary sterilisation. The irony is that India’s birth rate and the size of families are decreasing because of women’s own reproductive choices.

A similar directive reemerged after Beijing raised the family planning rule to three. In a December 2021 state media editorial, CCP members were told to fulfill their duty by having three children. The policy permeates through Chinese society in other, sometimes unexpected ways. Because many prioritized having a son over a daughter, orphanages experienced a surge in baby girls who were abandoned or put up for adoption. Single’s Day, China’s biggest online shopping holiday — akin to Black Friday in the U.S. — is a recognition of the many bachelors who are unable to find partners in a gender-skewed society.

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As early as March 2022, reports circulated on Chinese social media that India’s population had already surpassed China’s, though this was later dispelled by experts. India will surpass China as the country with the world’s largest population in 2023, according to the United Nations World Population Prospects 2022 report. A confluence of factors from the government to village level came together to bring about the change, but one of the most important has been improvements to education, according to Muttreja. Her job at a nearby canning factory refuses to hire her full time, she says, because she is a mother of three and needs to leave every afternoon to pick up her son from school.

Behind the ‘China Miracle’ Is a Ticking Demographic Time Bomb

The CCP imposed such coercive family planning measures on Chinese women for decades, according to Mr. Mosher. During the “one-child policy” era, pregnant women could be subjected to forced abortions for various reasons, ranging from being under 21 years of age to lacking government permission. Her son is part of the last generation of children in China whose births were ruled illegal at the time.

China’s Former 1-Child Policy Continues To Haunt Families

A voluntary program introduced in 1978 encouraged families to have only one or two children. In 1979 there was a push for families to limit themselves to one child, but that was not evenly enforced across China. The Chinese government issued a letter on September 25, 1980, that called for nationwide adherence to the one-child policy. In the 1980s, the CCP rolled out the “one-child policy,” strictly limiting couples to having only one baby. Those who defied the policy faced punishment, including heavy fines, job loss, and forced abortions.

NPR isn’t using her name to protect her identity because of the trauma she suffered. “I thought this is it — if I do not have this child, my body will not be able to have any more.” A child limit was already attempted in India however it didn’t take and was difficult to enforce. The child limit would not work in India as it did in China because it is a much more democratic country. A 2011 study conducted by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) indicated that close to 10% of Indian households now opt for only one child, and nearly a quarter of college-educated women said they would prefer to have a single child.

Establishment and implementation of China’s one-child policy

She added that the political infatuation with China’s one-child model was misplaced. Implemented in 1979, the policy aimed to ensure that the country’s population growth did not outpace economic development and that its impact on environmental and natural resources was minimised. China has found that despite reversing course, it cannot undo this rapid demographic transition.

Dharini and Kunal Turakhia are careful to ensure that their only son, Dev, 11, spends time with his cousins, benefiting from the company while still having his parents all to himself. They also fill the “parent-as friend” role more strongly, given the absence of siblings. But you’ve probably noticed it already, if not in your own or extended family, then in your neighbourhood, among your former batchmates and current colleagues. “Increasing population is the root of major problems including inequality prevailing in the society. Population control is the primary condition for the establishment of an advanced society,” wrote Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Twitter on July 11.

China is grappling with a growing economic challenge as its real estate sector—a major contributor to the country’s GDP as noted by Mr. Mosher—is in crisis. The fact that the children are alive at all makes Chen, the lawyer, feel his seven years in prison and house arrest were all worth it. “Our country’s leaders did not want us to have children and I didn’t know why, but we could not do anything about it,” he sighs. The terror of such enforcement of birth limits was widespread in Linyi, even if residents were not themselves planning on giving birth. But the legacy of the one-child rule is still painfully felt by many parents who suffered for having multiple children.

In comparison, nations in the West “grew rich before they grew old, which meant they had the resources to continue to prosper even as the population was aging, and the workforce was starting to level out and shrink.” China’s demographic problem is similar to challenges facing developed nations such as the United States and Japan. But China is still a middle-income country, with hundreds of millions of people still relatively poor, Mr. Mosher noted. The loss of 400 million births, however, would inevitably cause damage to the country’s economy over time, said Mr. Mosher. And so, ironically, now that people are allowed to have more children, they are increasingly reluctant to, because of the high cost of child care and education.