From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Nothing Much
Mains level : Better Ways to ensure Population Control
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On July 11, World Population Day, a Union Minister expressed alarm, in a Tweet, over what he called the “population explosion” in the country, wanting all political parties to enact population control laws and annulling the voting rights of those having more than two children.
Demographic transition – The Economic Survey 2018-19 notes that India is set to witness a “sharp slowdown in population growth in the next two decades”. The fact is that by the 2030s, some States will start transitioning to an ageing society as part of a well-studied process of “demographic transition” which sees nations slowly move toward a stable population as fertility rates fall with an improvement in social and economic development indices over time.
- The demand for state controls on the number of children a couple can have is not a new one.
- It feeds on the perception that a large and growing population is at the root of a nation’s problems as more and more people chase fewer and fewer resources.
- This image is so ingrained in the minds of people that it does not take much to whip up public sentiment which in turn can quickly degenerate into a deep class or religious conflict that pits the poor, the weak, the downtrodden and the minorities against the more privileged sections.
National Population Policy (NPP) (2000)
1.Target free approach –The essence of the policy was the government’s commitment to “voluntary and informed choice and consent of citizens while availing of reproductive health care services” along with a “target free approach in administering family planning services”.
2.Lifecycle framework – “lifecycle framework” which looks to the health and nutrition needs of mother and child not merely during pregnancy and child birth but “right from the time of conception till the child grows… carrying on till the adolescent stage and further”.
3.Offering More Choices – This argument is not about denying services but about offering choices and a range of services to mother and child on the clear understanding that the demographic dividend can work to support growth and drive opportunity for ordinary people only when the population is healthy.
1.The health and education status – Thus, family health, child survival and the number of children a woman has are closely tied to the levels of health and education of the parents, and in particular the woman; so the poorer the couple, the more the children they tend to have.
2.Not particular to religion – This is a relation that has little to do with religion and everything to do with opportunities, choices and services that are available to the people.
3.Relation with poverty – The poor tend to have more children because child survival is low, son preference remains high, children lend a helping hand in economic activity for poorer households and so support the economic as well as emotional needs of the family.
1.On the basis of wealth – As the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16) notes, women in the lowest wealth quintile have an average of 1.6 more children than women in the highest wealth quintile, translating to a total fertility rate of 3.2 children versus 1.5 children moving from the wealthiest to the poorest.
2.On the basis of education – Similarly, the number of children per woman declines with a woman’s level of schooling. Women with no schooling have an average 3.1 children, compared with 1.7 children for women with 12 or more years of schooling.
Control is not the desired way –
- Demographers are careful not to use the word “population control” or “excess population”.
- The NPP 2000 uses the world “control” just thrice: in references to the National AIDS Control Organisation; to prevent and control communicable diseases, and control of childhood diarrhoea.
- This is the spirit in which India has looked at population so that it truly becomes a thriving resource; the life blood of a growing economy.
- Turning this into a problem that needs to be controlled is exactly the kind of phraseology, mindset and possibly action that will spell doom for the nation.
- Today, as many as 23 States and Union Territories, including all the States in the south region, already have fertility below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman.
- So, support rather than control works.
- The damage done when mishandling issues of population growth is long lasting.
- Let us not forget that the scars of the Emergency are still with us. Men used to be part of the family planning initiatives then but after the excesses of forced sterilisations, they continue to remain completely out of family planning programmes even today.
- The government now mostly works with woman and child health programmes. Mistakes of the Emergency-kind are not what a new government with a robust electoral mandate might like to repeat.