ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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China's One- or Two-child Policy

A Narrow Path

China's One- or Two-child Policy

The announcement of the shift from a one-child to two-child policy at the fifth plenum of the 18th Party Congress of the Communist Party of China in October 2015 has brought the population debate back to the forefront. The social consequences of the policy have been severe, repercussions of which will reverberate for generations to come. This is a lesson for India that it should be warned once more of such coercive measures and their impacts.

At the fifth plenum of the 18th Party Congress (26–29 October 2015), the Communist Party of China (CPC) announced its decision to shift from a one-child policy to a two-child policy, sparking the population debate again. It is quite obvious now that the social implications of a one-child policy on Chinese society have been severe. It is also highly contentious as to whether China was able to make any positives demographically. The forceful curbing of numbers has come at a cost of creating a societal imbalance, which it now resorts to undo by announcing a two-child policy. There is enough that has been written on the exaggerated fear of growing numbers and why developing countries should not fall into a Malthusian trap. Demographic projections and their interpretations are driven by fear and anxiety and ensuing policies are their outcomes. Simplistic solutions like limiting family size become the norm and fail to question the demerits of venturing down that narrow path.

In my growing-up years in Delhi during the 1980s, one kept hearing about China’s success in implementing the one-child policy and the urgent need for the Indian state to embark on a policy that was equally stringent to control its population. It was driven by the same rhetorical question: How was a nation supposed to feed so many mouths given the limited resources, while the growing population was becoming a barrier to development?

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