TOPIC – An unproductive idea

Incentives and penalties form an integral component of the measures to control population growth, announced by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday. These steps are aimed at reducing U.P.’s total fertility rate (TFR), recorded as 2.7 by the National Family Health Survey4 in 2016, a figure only lower than that of neighboring Bihar (3.1 as of 2020 in NFHS5). Aims in this direction — increasing the rate of modern contraceptive prevalence, male contraception, decreasing maternal mortality and infant mortality rates significantly by 2026 — are, on the face of it, in line with what was stressed at the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development in 1994. The Cairo Consensus called for the promotion of reproductive rights, empowering women, universal education, maternal and infant health to untangle the knotty issue of poverty and high fertility. But rather than taking steps in this direction, the Government seems to have taken the beaten path of a mixture of incentives and penalties to tackle what is a socioeconomic issue as a demographic one. In a draft Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilization, and Welfare) Bill, 2021, the Government aims to incentivize one-child families and reward those with two children with perks in government Schemes, rebates in taxes and loans, and cash awards if family planning is done among other sops. Disincentives for those with more than two children include denial of subsidies and welfare benefitits, a bar on applying for government jobs and taking part in local elections. Assam, also led by the BJP, is mulling a similar policy. The incentives/disincentives approach has been denounced in the past by the National Human Rights Commission after such measures were introduced by several States in the 1990s and 2000s, i.e., Haryana, undivided Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha. The Supreme Court, in 2003, upheld a Haryana government law barring persons with more than two children from contesting local body polls, but the legal grounding of the moves impinging upon the informed choice of the individual remained questionable. Empirical studies of coercive measures have shown their discrimination against marginalized people in particular and with no discernible effect on population control, while more substantive poverty reduction schemes and economic reforms have raised labour productivity and employment opportunities, allowed families to empower women, and reduced fertility rates as rational choices. India’s TFRs have been reducing substantially across most States, even in U.P. and Bihar with the highest TFRs. To hasten the drop to replacement levels of fertility, States should tackle the socioeconomic issues confronting India’s largely youthful demography rather than seeking neo-Malthusian approaches on population control.

The Hindu Editorial Words with meanings, synonyms, and antonyms 


Integral (adjective) – Existing as an essential constituent

Synonyms – Intact, intrinsic, plenary, unified, unabridged

Antonyms – Auxiliary, inconsequential, ancillary, trivial, adscititious


Contraceptive (adjective) – Capable of preventing conception

Synonyms – Prophylactic, sheath, sponge, vasectomy, pessary

Antonyms – Advantage, hazard, massacre, unprotective


Prevalence (noun) – The quality of prevailing generally

Synonyms – Preponderance, ubiquity, vogue, customariness, paramountcy

Antonyms – Peripheral, abstruse, bizarre, recondite, wacky


Mortality (noun) – Death

Synonyms – Fatality, lethality, transience, necrosis, morbidity

Antonyms – Eternity, nativity, deities, nascence, phoenix


Untangle (verb) – To resolve

Synonyms – Unravel, extricate, disencumber, unsnarl, decipher

Antonyms – Ravel, baffle, adumbrate, bedim, cloak


Tackle (verb) – Accept as a challenge

Synonyms – Paraphernalia, combat, rigging, grapple, accoutrements

Antonyms – Dodge, evade, elude, disregard, abandonment


Mulling (verb) – Think about deeply and at length

Synonyms – Pondering, broods, bungling, abatement, brewing

Antonyms – Overlook, disregard, abandon, ignore


Impinging (noun) – The physical coming together of two or more things

Synonyms – Infringe, entrench, striking, trench, intrude

Antonyms – Spurn, obstruct, hinder, counteract, avoid


Coercive (adjective) – Having the power to constrain

Synonyms – Obligatory, compulsive, imperative, tyrannical, intimidating

Antonyms – Discretionary, ductile, elective, docile, meek


Discernible (adjective) – Capable of being seen or noticed

Synonyms – Conspicuous, palpable, seeable, blatant, overt

Antonyms – Bewildering, cagey, inscrutable, ambiguous, trivial


Hasten (verb) – Act or move at high speed

Synonyms – Expedite, sprint, scoot, scurry, scamper

Antonyms – Dawdle, loiter, procrastinate, dally, dither