October 7, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether India should introduce population control measures. We also look at the discovery of a new fish species in Nagaland, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Should India introduce population control measures?
According to Paul Ehrlich, an American biologist known for his work on population growth, overpopulation is a situation where a population is in the process of depleting non-renewable resources. To many, India has been in this situation for decades, where the deteriorating population balance has had dire consequences on the overall progress and development of the nation. As early as 2024, India will surpass China as the world’s most populous nation, according to recent studies.
With 25% of the population living on less than $2 a day, many fear the growing population will only worsen poverty. Structural issues like resource depletion, inequitable income distribution, and pressure on limited infrastructure have worsened due to overpopulation. In such a scenario, should India legislate population control measures?
The grave issue of overpopulation is one that is constantly addressed by various political parties, and individuals in positions of power. In addition to family planning services, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is responsible for population control. Through advertising and education, the main strategy remains to persuade people to accept the small family norm on an individual basis. Since 1952, India has incorporated family planning in its 5-year plan, spending almost $100 million dollars on family planning initiatives. Various population control bills have been introduced at different time periods in India, the most notable and controversial being Sanjay Gandhi’s policy during the emergency of 1976 that led to the sterilisation of 6.2 million men.
On Independence Day in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speech addressed the urgent need for population control, saying, “Those who follow the policy of small families also contribute to the development of the nation, it is also a form of patriotism.” By equating controlling the population with patriotism, the government has made clear its opinion on population control. Recently, Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has flagged the need for a comprehensive population control policy that applies to all equally and added it was in the national interest to keep an eye on population imbalance. He also said when efforts are being made to divide society, we have to stay together, alluding to Hindu-Muslim unity.
India is currently pushing for two population control measures. The population bill and the constitution amendment bill 2020. The population bill aims to adopt the two-child norm through incentivization like educational benefits, free healthcare, and better employment opportunities. States like Telangana have adopted the two-child norm that determines the eligibility to be elected in certain panchayats. State-wise population control is present throughout the country, however, is it really necessary?
VIEW: There are merits to population control
The relationship between high fertility rates and poverty is clear, even though rapid population growth does not necessarily cause it. In developing countries with high fertility rates, life expectancy and per capita income (two important indicators of well-being) typically remain low. Looking at examples like Sweden where the population has been staggered for various years, there is also a remarkably robust healthcare and infrastructure system.
The issue of overpopulation is one that personally affects our country to a great extent. India is supposed to be the most populous country in the world soon, which will ultimately stress its natural resources. A high population proves to be a disequalizer in a country that is already systemically unequal. Gyan Chand, in The Problem of Population, wrote: “… we have to reduce the birth rate in India if we are to succeed in solving the problem of want and misery.” Looking at the Malthusian principle of population growth that is followed worldwide, population growth is always exponential while the growth of resources is linear.
COUNTERVIEW: There is no need for population control measures
Implementing a population control policy in our country, given its system of government and rich diversity, is not adequately suited for a policy that not only coerces but infringes on basic rights. The most famous example in our country of failed population control is Sanjay Gandhi’s forced sterilisations during the 1975 emergency where civil liberties were suspended. An astonishing 6.2 million Indian men were sterilized in just a year, which was “15 times the number of people sterilized by the Nazis”, according to science journalist Mara Hvistendahl. There were reports of gruesome sterilisation camps and botched tubectomies on more than 800 women, affecting the healthcare and conditions of various individuals.
Furthermore, in a country with great religious diversity, beliefs and values regarding birth differ. Keeping these differing sentiments in mind is key when implementing a national population policy. One such belief is the preference of the boy child. Implementing population control policies in a country with a strong stigma towards females may lead to forced sterilisation of the girl-child. Male preference in India will lead to a skewed sex ratio and add to the existing gender inequalities present, limiting the opportunities that women have in various ways. Sex-selective abortions and selective female abortion is both a consequence and result of the patriarchal tendencies entrenched in our country.
Apart from these factors, India had a fertility rate of 2.2 births per woman in 2020. The overall replacement level is 2.1. As India is almost at the replacement level, rather than reducing population, it has to work on sustaining the existing population growth at present. Furthermore, fertility measures have decreased with the improvement of socio-economic factors like literacy, modernization, and various other socio-economic factors. Nineteen states have below-replacement level fertility rates, indicating progress for population levels. Several experts argue that the motives behind population control are centred around pushing a religious bias that is already present in our country, and there should be sustained attempts to increase development towards socioeconomic factors.
- India’s Dark History of Sterilisation – BBC News
- An Indian Two-Child Policy: Coercive or Necessary? – Statecraft
- Population Growth: A Humanitarian Crisis That Needs Our Attention – Population Media Center
- India does not need population law – Anadolu Agency
- The Problem of Population – Gyan Chand
- The Population Bomb – Paul R Ehrlich
What’s your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) India needs to introduce population control measures.
b) India should not introduce population control measures.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
Finally, This Is A Rahul Gandhi That India Can Relate To
For the Left:
Modi Vs Who? Why Effort To Revive Janata Politics Is Like Flogging A Dead Horse
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Localised plants to control pollution in Yamuna (Delhi) – The Delhi government has given the go-ahead to develop decentralised sewage treatment plants (DSTPs) at a cost of ₹570 crores to stop sewage from reaching the Yamuna. These plans will be placed in rural and unauthorised areas of the city that are not covered by the sewage network.
Why it matters: Deputy Chief Minister and Delhi Jal Board (DJB) Chairman Manish Sisodia said that the sewage system is being upgraded to prevent untreated effluents from being released into the Yamuna. The plants will run on IFAS technology (integrated fixed film activated sludge) which will facilitate biomass growth and strengthen the treatment process.
New fish species discovered (Nagaland) – A scientist at the Division of Fisheries Science at ICAR-Central Island Agricultural Research Institute, J Praveenraj identified a new fish species as Pethia dikhuensis. A dead fish specimen was taken from a fisherman’s net in the Dikhu river.
Why it matters: The scientist along with Limaakum, an assistant professor in the Department of Zoology at Fazl Ali College, collected live spcecimens of male and female fishes. These were subjected to a DNA and comparative study of bones, colour and body character revealing that the species is new to science.
Sex workers constitute all-woman Durga Puja (West Bengal) – 43-year-old sex worker and mother of two, Anita Das started a committee, the Durbar Mahila Sammanwaya Samiti (DBSS) which constitutes entirely of women who celebrate Durga Puja. The committee was formed as a response to sex workers being excluded from the celebrations.
Why it matters: Durga Puja within this community has been taking place since 2012. ‘Bhog’ is distributed at least twice a day on all five days of the Pujo. In the state, no idol of Durga can be made without soil from a brothel as it is a key component of the Earthly form of the Devi Shakti.
Platform launched for women entrepreneurs (Gujarat) – President Draupadi Murmu launched herSTART, a platform aimed at supporting women-led startups in growing. It is an initiative by the Gujarat University Startup and Entrepreneurship Council (GUSEC) which not only supports women entrepreneurs but also provides resources and training modules free of cost.
Why it matters: The President highlighted that India ranked 40th in the Global Innovation Index which is a significant jump from its 81st rank in 2015. She said that herSTART will contribute to this cause as it supports startups which also create new jobs.
Women farmers facilitating switch to natural farming (Andhra Pradesh) – As the state attempts to transition to natural farming by 2031, special attention needs to be given to the role women farmers are playing in this endeavour. AP accounts for the highest number of operational holdings owned by women in India. Three in four women in rural India are engaged in agriculture.
Why it matters: Although there is a high level of women’s participation in farming, their labour is unpaid and unaccounted for. While men merely observe, women carry out agricultural tasks that contribute to transitioning to natural farming.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
44% – A survey by CVoter-CPR aiming to ‘take stock’ 75 years after Partition revealed that 44% of Indians would support reunification with Pakistan.