What can help in controlling population in India--society or law? -Neetu Chandra Sharma

-Livemint.com

* The population explosion has major impacts on the country ranging from health, social, environmental and economic

* Gender preferences are also contributing to the population explosion in India

New Delhi:
Pointing out population growth as a major concern in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech called for a deeper thought towards the issue. Apparently, the mention was an indication that the government is devising a policy or a law for curbing the population growth in country, which may also make social responsibility and stringent rules, an integral part of government family planning plans. Modi said that population explosion can create new problems especially for the future generations. But there is also an enlightened section of society which is aware of this challenge. We have to ponder on this issue taking along all the sections of the society. However, India has pooled in major efforts in creating awareness about benefits of sensible family planning, the second term of Modi government might come up with some different strategy to champion the cause.

* Why population remains a concern when growth rates are declining?

Estimates and statistics of population in India have been showing a slightly positive picture though the country’s population remains a concern for social and economic reasons. While India’s population is projected to overtake China’s in less than a decade as per the United Nations `World Population Prospects 2019’ report released in June this year, the new projections for India are the lowest since the United Nations began these forecasts. The reason is the sharp decline in India’s population growth rates over 10 years from 2001 to 2011. According to Census 2011, the growth rate of population has declined from 21.5% during 1991-2001 to 17.7% during 2001-2011, across all religious groups.

To what several public health experts agree with the PM is that India's growing population was once a dividend it expected to reap benefit from, but possibly not anymore. “The rise in population has also been accompanied by an increase in human activity, from high water use, damming of rivers, cropland expansion, increase in the user of fertilizers and irrigation, loss of forests, and a sharp rise in the use of oil, coal, gas, and an increase in the levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases that are a result of changes in the use of land and burning of fuels," said Savitha Kuttan, CEO, Omnicuris, a health and social enterprise.

“Even if you take a probabilistic statistical approach that accounts for uncertainty, the global population will hit the 9 billion mark by 2045. Considering the fact that we're looking at a future where we're going to face chronic drought, food shortages, and mass migration, we need measures to curb the rise in population to combat the adverse effects of resource consumption and waste," she said.

The population explosion has major impacts on the country ranging from health, social, environmental and economic. “In India, we can attribute population explosion to high birth rate. Frequent pregnancies without having a gap can be very hazardous to the health of the mother and the child, leading to increased maternal and infant mortality rates, lowered nutrition and various diseases amongst women. In the long run, higher population burden also leads to poverty, environmental degradation owing to over exploitation of available natural resources," said Sandeep Budhiraja, senior director, institute of internal medicine, Max healthcare.

* How India’s social biases add to population growth?

The Economic Survey of 2018 points out that ‘son meta preference’ – the desire to have a male child – has resulted in 21 million “unwanted girls" in India. Such gender preferences are also equally contributing to the population explosion in India along with triggering malpractice of female foeticide.

“The rapid and unchecked growth is at the root of several socio-economic problems that we see today. The Prime Minister's call for controlling population growth gives us just the right window to work on it. The government must take a holistic, multidimensional approach to spread awareness by involving medical options such as the importance of family planning to sterilization means to social measures such as improving the number of educated girls," Ranjana Becon, Consultant Gynaecologist, Columbia Asia hospital said.

India continues to witness a social and gender bias in terms of family planning. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 4-(2015-16) data, 99% of married women and men age 15-49 know at least one method of contraception. However, female sterilization remains the most popular modern contraceptive method.

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Livemint.com, 20 August, 2019, https://www.livemint.com/news/india/what-can-help-in-controlling-population-in-india-society-or-law-1566269654978.html

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