STRICT POPULATION CONTROL LAW “NEED OF THE HOUR” BY MEGHNA DHANWANI

INTRODUCTION

Population Control is coined for policies that are made in or with the intension of limiting the growth of a population, in numbers. This is especially implied in poor or heavily populated countries by adopting different methods. India’s population is nearly 1.37 billion which is almost 16 per cent of the world’s population, India possesses only 2.4 per cent land of the whole world. This fact might be hard to believe because it is not easy to handle but that is indeed the truth. Certain studies say that by the year 2050, India’s population is estimated to be 1.69 billion while China, which is a country with the largest population on earth, is estimated to be 1.31 billion, hence India is the most populated country in the world.

China is a communist country, after seeing rapid growth in its population introduced ‘one child norm’ policy, which was severely criticized as against human rights and so they decided and changed their policy to ‘two-child norm’.[1] These measures brought control over China’s rising population, which was previously adopted by Vietnam as well. India being a democratic country, cannot forcefully apply such coercive methods but that does not mean we ignore the fact that the rapidly growing population is a very serious problem in India and needs immediate and certain strict rules to be implied.

REASONS FOR INCREASE IN POPULATION

Poverty

Among the major issues faced by India poverty is one of the reasons for population increase. The majority population of the country suffers due to poverty; reasons might be low earnings or unemployment. This leads to the mindset that more members of the family would mean more income and so, they produce more children. It is also a fact that the infant mortality rate in India, especially among the poor, is high due to lack of basic facilities and so they produce more children leading to a rise in population, which again leads to a lack of jobs and the cycle continues.

Religious beliefs

Cultures and traditions in India and religious beliefs have their roots from the deep history of India. And so, the beliefs are strictly considered and followed in our country. But certain such beliefs lead to a prompt increase in population, such as many families prefer having a son rather than daughter and have more children than expected. In many religions, abortion is also considered as a sin, and so following the beliefs families do not opt for abortion even when necessary.

Child Marriage and Polygamy

Around 80 per cent of girls in India are married at an early age i.e., girls between the ages group of 15-20 years, which means a long time of marriage and that lead to an increase in childbirth.

Illiteracy and unawareness

In India major issues also include illiteracy especially to the females and due to illiteracy, the families have no idea regarding the concept of family planning or the consequences of an increase in childbirth.[2]

EFFECTS OF INCREASE IN POPULATION

A report issued by the United Nations said that by 2027 India will become the most populated country in the world, surpassing China. It was after a few years that on independence day, the prime minister of India referred to the issue of rising population and the need of controlling it, and indeed the necessity of the formation of National Indian Planning Commission for population control is a necessity in our country as low-income populations are also more prone to crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, and violence. Other than these there are also more effects of the increase in population in India:

  1. Unemployment: Unemployment has always been an issue in our country and with increasing population increases the rate of illiteracy which makes situations grow worse.
  2. Lack of resources: Increasing population means more utilization of limited resources available, which leads to scarcity. Ex: agriculture.
  3. Manpower utilization: Increasing unemployment leads to a rise in economic depression and slow progress in the business.
  4. Standard of Living: The overpopulation increasing the unemployment in India gives rise to a low standard of living among the people i.e., lack of basic facilities such as food, shelter, clothes, health, and sanitation.
  5. Pressure on infrastructure: The increase in population is much higher than the increase in the development of infrastructure in our country. And this leads to issues such as lack of education, healthcare, transportation, communications, etc.
MEASURES TO CONTROL POPULATION

There are three types of measures in various areas that can be taken to control the population:

  1. Social Measures
  2. Economic Measures
  3. Other Measures

Social Measures: The increasing population is specifically a social problem and hence it is important to take measures in society.

  1. Minimum age of marriage: Though the law in India states that the minimum age for marriage in India is 18 years for females and 21 years for males, yet lack of implementation can be noticed, and hence measures must be taken for strict implementation.
  2. Raise standards of women: Women in our countries even today are degraded in our country. They are bound to be bearing children and not rise in society. Hence, they must be given their freedom and opportunities
  3. The spread of education: Illiteracy in India is a major drawback, when people in the country are more literate they understand and are aware of the problems that arise due to over-population. Men understand the concept of not marrying at an early age and women understand their health and are more conscious.
  4. Social Securities: Social security must be provided to people, especially those who are insecure about their time during old age. This makes them less desirable to have more children.

Economic Measures: Measures that benefit in controlling the population and also benefits the economy of the country are the economic measures.

  1. Increase employment opportunities: India has a high unemployed population and the obvious major reasons are lack in opportunities and increasing population, especially to the migrated labourers as the rural part of the country suffers more due to this issue. It must be tried to bring the rural workers to the urban area for their development.
  2. Development in the agriculture and industry sectors: Increasing the population demand increasing work and food, and hence the government must take necessary steps to develop agriculture and industrial areas to increase manpower and production of food.
  3. Standard of living: when appropriate measures are taken to develop the economy in view and favour of the population the standard of living of the people can be noticed to be increasing.
  4. Urbanization: It is a recorded fact that the urban areas have lower birth rates than the rural areas and so steps must be taken to maximize urban areas.

Other Measures:

  1. Spreading awareness: Government has been taking steps to control population but it has not been effective enough and so it is essential that the government spreads more knowledge on issues on the effect of increasing population in our country and also must ensure to take adequate steps to improve their standard of living.
  2. Family planning: Higher population in India lack family planning which leads to an uncontrollable population. This method involves the prevention of unnecessary births and taking preventive measures before regulating birth rate.
  3. Employment to women: Women must be encouraged and must be given equal positions in society. They must be aware and must not be discriminated in any form, they must have their right.[3]
THE NEED FOR POPULATION CONTROL

The population has become one of the most important concerns in socio-economic development. Growth in population means a direct effect on various resources of human needs, the more growth in population means more scarce of limited resources which include food, jobs, healthcare, infrastructure, etc.

 There is no particular solution or strategy that can help population problems either in developed or developing countries. People in developed countries tend to arrange a small family unit by rationally taking into consideration better education, healthcare, and future job opportunities for their children.

Very low or even declining population growth has been considered as a weakness of developed countries so there is indeed a need to promote population growth to boost economic activities. While on the contrary, in many developing countries people’s awareness of family size is considerably lower. Traditional beliefs about children’s value as important capital for a family are still prevalent. As a result, high population growth has been a common issue in many developing countries.

The regional policies related to population development depend heavily on the interests of local leaders, both executive and legislative. Many reports indicate that population development is not considered a priority in many regions and has been noted at global and national levels that food security has attracted huge attention from stakeholders. The problems of food are however directly connected to the increasing population, and this has been noticed for the past two centuries.

The Malthus Theory (1798) says that the world is under a constant threat since the speed of population growth is always more than the capability to produce enough food. To also mention a renowned economist Jeffry D. Sach (2008) who raised a big question, have we vanquished the Malthus trap? There has been no clear answer, but the world is witnessing extreme cases of food shortage, hunger, and malnutrition.

If population growth is ignored it has a high tendency of affecting the economy of the country, which might result in difficulty in access to the basic needs of human existence.[4]

Government Policies

The Government of India is trying to set up population policies so that the economic growth of the country can keep pace with the demands of a growing population. Major steps though have been already implemented yet need to be emphasized and made effective for more control population. Some of the steps that the government has been taking our:

  1. 360-degree media campaign- The first phase of the campaign was launched in 2016 and the present second phase was launched in 2017, which involved advertising through TVs, posters and hoardings, Radio shows, and a website particularly for Family Planning.
  2. World Population Day: This day observed every year to boost awareness.
  3. Promotional activities: Schemes such as Saas bahu sammelans, Nayi Pehel Kits, Mobile publicity vans, and advocacy meetings are conducted to increase awareness in high fertility Mission Parivar Vikas districts (which concentrates on spreading awareness and access to contraceptives and family planning services in 146 districts that have high fertility rates i.e., with Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 3 and above in seven high focus states. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam are the states that consist mostly of these districts, constituting 44% of the country’s population.)
  4.  New Contraceptive Choices- New contraceptives (such as Injectable contraceptive and Centchroman) have been added to the existing basket of choices.
  5. Compensation scheme for sterilization acceptors – Under this scheme, MoHFW provides compensation in case of loss of wages to the beneficiary and also to the service provider for conducting sterilizations.
  6. Clinical Outreach Teams (COT) Scheme – This scheme has been launched in 146 districts of Mission Parivar Vikas, to provide Family planning services through mobile for underserved and geographically difficult to reach areas.
  1. Home delivery of contraceptives by ASHAs: Scheme for providing contraceptives at the doorstep of beneficiaries.
  1. Pregnancy Testing Kits: it is a Scheme for provision in the drug kits of ASHAs for use in communities
  1. Family Planning Logistic Management and Information System (FP-LMIS): It is a software to ensure smooth forecasting, procurement, and distribution of family planning commodities across all the levels of health facilities.
  2. National Family Planning Indemnity Scheme (NFPIS): Under this scheme, people are insured for unexpected events such as death, complication, and failure in the following sterilization.
  1. Quality Assurance Committees: Ensuring quality of care in Family Planning in all states and districts
  2. RMNCH+A counsellors: Appointment of dedicated counsellors at high caseload facilities.

As a result of these policies implemented by the government, the country is trying to replace the level of fertility and is on to achieve a Total Fertility Rate of 2.1 by 2025.

NOTABLE CHANGES
  • The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) declined to 2.2 (SRS 2017).
  • The Crude Birth Rate has declined from 23.8 to 20.2 from 2005 to 2017 (SRS).
  • The Teenage birth rate reduced from 16% to 8%.

To improve the implementation of the policies, the Government is focusing on:

  • High fertility districts,
  • Emphasizing spacing methods,
  • Improvement in quality of services and
  • Intensive monitoring.

Currently, the government does not have such a proposal since India is a signatory to the ICPD declaration of 1994 held in Cairo (International Conference on Population and Development) which undoubtedly advocates voluntary informed choice and honouring of reproductive rights of couples to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.[5]

But as mentioned before, during the high-profile and widely publicized address to the nation on India’s Independence Day on August 15, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that the concerns regarding growing population were a serious issue, later called on the central and state governments to implement policies to control the country’s population growth rate.

“Population explosion will cause many problems for our future generations. We have to be concerned about the population explosion. The Centre, as well as State governments, should launch schemes to tackle it,” The Prime Minister said in his Independence Day address before the nation’s iconic Red Fort in Delhi. The address however triggered speculations that the Indian government may soon be set to introduce a nationwide population control policy.[6]

CONCLUSION

There is essential attention required towards the increasing population especially in a developing country like India. But the process is very complex as the success of plans and policies depends upon multiple factors. Yet this does not change the fact of the need for strict control considering the future generations in terms of availability of resources and a better place. The policies being adopted are quite accurate but are not being strictly imposed. Ex.: Family planning is very essential yet is not adopted by most of the families as they are unaware of such policies.

Policies and programs that influence health, education, the status of women, and the economic value of children in turn influence attitude towards childbearing, family planning, and people’s ability to control family size. Efforts to reduce fertility through population policies, therefore, should be combined with policies to improve health, education, and the status of women.

Broad-based development in human resources requires reestablishing policies and financial resources to focus on the critical needs of the majority of the population, including the poor. This calls for the need for greater emphasis on primary education and basic health cure.

Since the country also requires financial resources, substantial and sustained economic growth is a must to generate sufficient resources to invest in human resource development. If there is no significant development in the agriculture area, this will not be attainable. And hence, there must be better implementation, development, and a need to share the knowledge.

FOOTNOTES

[1]Prashant Patel Umrao, Why the population control law is now most urgent and essential in the National interest?, Organizer, (Oct. 27, 2018), https://www.organiser.org/Encyc/2018/10/27/Why-the-Population-Control-Law-is-now-most-urgent-and-essential-in-the-National-Interest-.html

[2]Sadiq, Causes of population explosion in India, All Exam Notes, (Mar. 01,2017), https://www.allexamnotes.com/2017/03/population-explosion-causes/.

[3]Pooja Mehta, Measures to control population of India, Economics Discussion, (Jul. 16, 2018), http://www.economicsdiscussion.net/essays/measures-to-control-population-of-india/2249.

[4]Subejo and Tatag Handaka, Controlling the population, shaping the future, The Jakarta Post., (Apr. 20, 2013, 12:51 PM), https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/04/20/controlling-population-shaping-future.html.

[5]Population Reference Bureau, What Was Cairo? The Promise and Reality of ICPD, Population Reference Bureau, Inc., (Sept. 14, 2004), https://www.prb.org/whatwascairothepromiseandrealityoficpd/.

[6]Jonathan Abbamonte, India Prime Minister calls for Population Control, says small families are an “act of patriotism”, Population Research Institute, (Aug. 26, 2019), https://www.pop.org/india-prime-minister-calls-for-population-control/.

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