The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has taken a very strange step to educate newlyweds about family planning.

Uttar Pradesh, with a population of over 200 million, is home to around 16% of India's total population. The state government has now planned to give condoms as the wedding gift to newly married couples to control the high fertility rate in the region.

The condoms would be distributed through the Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers, the Times of India has reported.

ASHA is community health workers association set up by the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in 2005 as part of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

The government also plans to give couples pamphlets from the health department explaining the importance of family planning and the benefits of birth spacing.

The programme will be launched under Mission Parivar Vikas (Mission Family Development) on 11 July, which also marks World Population Day.

"The aim is to prepare newlywed couples about responsibilities of married life," Avneesh Saxena, project manager of Mission Parivar Vikas, said.

The gift kit from the government would contain packets of condoms, emergency contraceptive pills, general oral contraceptive pills, along with other items for the bride and groom.

A condom
Condoms as wedding gift to newlyweds of India’s Uttar Pradesh Getty Images

Uttar Pradesh's National Health Mission director, Alok Kumar, has said that since the literacy rate of the state is low, it cannot be expected that couples would know how to read and write. The government has asked ASHA workers to brief couples about the importance of family planning.

Social activists have welcomed the move. Anshumali Sharma, a social activist, said: "The measure is welcome in a state where sex education is taboo despite a pressing need."