A two-child policy in overpopulated India? It won't work, say experts

(CNN)Some politicians in India are clamoring for what they believe to be a quick fix to the country's population problem: a two-child policy for Indian citizens.

As activists and experts scramble to educate the public on the need for contraception and family planning, these politicians want to limit each family to have just two children.
Today, India's population stands at 1.31 billion people, second only to China. Experts estimate India will surpass China in just a few years, according to the United States Census Bureau.
    India's fertility rate has dropped to 2.3 births per woman in 2016, compared to 3.2 births per woman in 2000, according to government data. But the booming population has been raising concerns for decades due to a rising poverty, decline in jobs and a poor literacy rate.
    "No person shall procreate more than two living children after a period of one year from the commencement of this Act," stated a population control bill introduced on the Parliament floor in 2016 by Prahalad Singh Patel, a legislator from the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
    The bill -- which never even came to a vote -- listed measures that the Indian government would take if they wanted to check the ever-growing population. If passed, the bill would make it mandatory for individuals to seek permission from officials if they want to have more than two children, permission that could be denied if sufficient cause was not met.
    "There is a universal truth you will have to consider. There is water, roads, health, sanitation: how will you give all these facilities if the population keeps increasing," Patel told CNN.
    The bill's introduction opened up a debate, which was followed by more than 100 legislators submitting a letter to the president of India, Ram Nath Kovind, in August and appealing for him to take their demand seriously.
    "The land is shrinking and the population is rising. There is no place to build homes. In this situation, there should be some control on population," Ganesh Singh, one of the legislators demanding the implementation told CNN. "Now or later, this will have to be done."
    But B. Paswan, head of the department of population policies and programmes at the International Institute for Population Sciences highlighted the proposition is simply not realistic.
    "No government can bring any such strong policy in India. People will reject it. The two-child policy is not possible with the socio-economic condition of the country," he said. "The change will come with development. It is heading that way already."

    Decline without restricting families

    The Indian government does not have any plans to implement a two-child policy since it is a signatory to the International Conference on population and Development declaration. Signed in 1994, the declaration advocates free speech and honors the reproductive rights of couples to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of children.
    India has been grappling with population control for decades, which has resulted in abject poverty, with government welfare programmes unable to cater to thousands of people earning less than $3 per day.
    "There are several factors for the high population. We have a large percentage of the population in the reproductive age group. Only 54% of couples use contraceptives," said Paswan.