Home arrow Archives arrow Open Forum arrow Open Forum 2006 arrow Population Control:RURAL UPLIFT IMPERATIVE, Dhurjati Mukherjee, 24 January 2006
News and Features
INFA Digest
Parliament Spotlight
Journalism Awards
Population Control:RURAL UPLIFT IMPERATIVE, Dhurjati Mukherjee, 24 January 2006 Print E-mail


New Delhi, 24 January 2006

Population Control


By Dhurjati Mukherjee

Stablizing population growth can only be possible through rapid economic development and increase in the per capita income of the people.  The developed countries of the world like the USA, Germany, the UK, France and Russia all have a population growth ranging from 0.2 to one per cent. This indicates that the developed regions would not face any significant population increase, while the developing regions are likely to grow from 4.8 billion to 7.8 billion by the year 2040.  It is thus quite clear that backwardness and illiteracy have been the principal reasons for accelerating the pace of population growth.

In a world where high growth and competitiveness has become the order of the day, it is imperative that the development process has to be ushered in a big way.  Scarcity of resources made worse by rising population and governance problems have retarded the development process in Third World countries. Also, areas of regions within these countries, which are backward and where education has not spread, the rise of population has been more acute.

India has 2.4 per cent of the land mass of the world but it has around 17 per cent of the population and this has been increasing at the rate of 1.9 per cent per annum, while that of the world has been moving at 1.4 per cent per annum.  It is estimated that there would be 10 billion people in the world by 2050.  According to the UN Commission on Population and Development, India, Pakistan, China, Indonesia and Nigeria are among five countries that account for almost half the annual growth of 100 million of the world’s population.

China has launched commendable and drastic family planning programmes over the last decade.  It is estimated that its population will increase from the present 1250 million to approximately 1500 million in the year 2025.  On the other hand, India’s record has been far from satisfactory and present reveal that the country’s population will cross that of China in the first quarter of this century.

The reasons for India’s failure to attain success in controlling population may be attributed to the following factors: Backwardness, specially in the BIMARU States with special reference to Bihar; inadequate awareness generation and spread of literacy at the grassroot level in some of the remote areas of the country; lack of common civil code and the government’s reluctance to impose this fearing backlash from the minority community; high levels of gender inequality and poor initiative to make women conscious and aware of the need for family planning; superstitious beliefs and lack of initiative by the panchayats to spread and implement family planning rigorously.

The vicious circle of poverty, population explosion and environmental degradation has greatly affected India, as also many other Third World countries.  If the population remains uncontrolled, it would be disastrous for the country’s economy.  The growth rate of the economy, which has reached respectable levels in the last two years, may get diluted if the population increase is not stabilized in the coming years.

It is encouraging to note that social infrastructure development, that is, adequate emphasis on health and education has already been initiated. There is an urgent need to inculcate family planning education in a massive way, especially in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and eastern Uttar Pradesh.  Education is undoubtedly a powerful weapon to combat increase in fertility rate, poverty and unemployment. 

The panchayats need to be involved and well-known personalities from all religious communities have to be mobilized to lead this family planning campaign.  It may be pertinent here to mention that the National Planning Health Survey of 1998 found that women on an average ended up producing 0.7 more children than they actually wanted because of various factors, including non-availability of contraception services.  In high population growth States this gap is much higher.

India’s growth and economic performance may lose its momentum if, at this juncture, family planning is not practised by a major segment of the population in a big way.  As is well known, natural resources are getting depleted and it would be virtually impossible for the country to make its presence felt in the international scene if the population growth cannot be controlled.

The scarcity of water resources, the per capita availability of land of the depleting fossil fuels is a world wide trend and populous countries like India would have to be more cautious in the coming years. Already since the green revolution, foodgrains output growth has lost the race against population  increase.

Somewhat neglect of the rural sector and also of its impoverished population by the Indian planners may also be attributed to the unplanned population growth. But presently the emphasis on physical infrastructure development, especially in the areas of roads and highways and better connectivity, and also some positive initiative sin the power sector, may witness transformation of the rural scenario which could help reduce population growth.

In an over-populous country like India where the density of the population is around 320 per sq.km. (compared to around 135 per sq. km of China), all efforts at development will not achieve the desired results if the population growth is not curbed.  Socio-economic advancement will be jeopardized if the growth rate is not brought down to below 1.5 per cent per annum.  If the southern states of the country can achieve this, why not their northern counterparts?  Superstitious beliefs and fundamentalist attitude to life should give way to a modern outlook of life and living.

It has been observed in Kerala, where the literacy rate is very high, that there has been a drastic decline in the population  growth.  Also in most of the north-eastern States, where women are professionally engaged and not at all backward, the fertility rate is quite low. A shift in gear in contraceptive application, that is, contraceptive research and its long-term research should be aimed at men rather than women.

Control of population does not rest entirely in the hands of the Government or even the non-Governmental organizations (NGOs).  Its success depends on people’s participation in the family planning programme and getting themselves educated.   If education spreads among women and the under-privileged sections, the fertility rate would go down, as has normally been the experience in the Third World.

Public-private partnerships need to be effectively marshaled to achieve this through various awareness generation measures and simultaneous uplifting the condition of the grassroot masses.  There has to be a realization that adding more population in a world where resources are getting scarcer and poverty is not much in decline (judged by numbers) would only create problems for the developing nations in the not-so-foreseeable future. ---INFA

(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

< Previous   Next >
  Mambo powered by Best-IT