Donít repeat mistakes of the Emergency
The harsh and coercive measures for population control adopted by the government in the 1970s have bruised the public psyche to such an extent that no government since then has seriously attempted to tackle the problem. The countryís most serious problem is mentioned only in official files and political rhetoric.
Even in the 1970s, policies on population control suffered from a bias. The vested vote-bank approach of political leadership meant that family planning programmes were limited clearly to the upper and middle classes. For obvious reasons, the lower class and the minorities were kept out of the ambit of the policy.
The upper and middle classes voluntarily adopted the small-family norm due to financial constraints and educational awakening. Nearly three decades after that first powerful thrust of population control, the government can still convince the other sections of society to voluntarily adopt the small-family norm.
It is encouraging that the Prime Minister has taken a fresh initiative in this direction and that he prefers to "stabilise" and not "control" the population by removing poverty and illiteracy, giving us better healthcare and empowering women. However, his goals cannot be achieved without the active support of the minorities and backward classes.
Forced sterilisation is right
The galloping growth of population in India brings to naught any effort against poverty, starvation, unemployment, illiteracy, diseases and shortage of housing.
The discussion on the problem has been put on the back burner for far too long due to political reasons. No ruling party is prepared to risk losing popularity by taking tough measures to curb the growth rate.
Forced sterilisations are also injurious to popularity, but look how China took steps that were even harsher and got results. We may never be able to copy that. We like populist measures, no matter how injurious these may prove for the health of the country.
Since the poor are the main culprits because they are less aware, education can bring the desired results for us. Family planning is the only mantra to save the country from catastrophic population explosion. Two-child norm should be made mandatory.
Emotional maturity is essential
Itís excruciating that a developing nation has to face problems that are self-created and to which the remedy is in her own hands. More couples should come forward to adopt orphans. Girls should check any of their immature actions that may bring into this world more children who would then remain deprived.
Punish couples whose misadventures and liaisons before marriage or the right age trigger a baby boom. Punish men who believe in spreading their seed liberally and punish couples who abandon babies. Marry only if you are mentally, physically and emotionally prepared.
Couples should discuss seriously before beginning a sexual relationship. Their emotional "alertness" to the use of contraceptives is necessary.
Family doctor should guide us on the right time to get married and have children. Realise the perils of unwanted pregnancy. Punish rapists by forcing them to undergo sex change.
Street theatre has a role to play
Anyone who has ever travelled through India realises two things: a great number of persons and diversity in everything. One lowers our status and the other gives us status. India is now the second most populous nation after China. At this rate, she would surpass China and be thrice as large. Every 10 years, India adds an Australia to her population and doubles herself in 35 years.
The government should enlighten the people through continuous education, especially in villages. Street theatre can play a vital role in taking the message to villages.
Demographers can publish tables and the latest data to highlight the problem and think of new solutions. This data should be the basis for identifying every family that lack the basis facilities of life. This would solve our problems of land and food and the country would be able to focus on development.
Switch to nuclear families
If India becomes the most populous country, nothing will be more shameful for us. The way Indiaís population is rapidly growing, the day does not seem far when India will face a scarcity of everything.
To curb the growth of population, the government, the NGOs and the public should launch a mass movement. We should learn to adopt family planning and contraception. The knowledge of birth control should be part of our educational system. Public awareness should be increased through mass media.
A large chunk of our growing population still prefers to have large, joint families. This should be checked. When will we Indians switch to the nuclear family system?
It is in the hands of politicians
It is in the hands of politicians to curb the growth of population. The government policy should encourage incentives that would control the growth of population. The solutions should be socially and politically acceptable and economically feasible.
Lifelong monthly pension (Rs 200 to Rs 400) should be given to couples living below the poverty line. Education stipends should be given. Free healthcare and lottery schemes should be introduced for the couples who would adopt any of the family planning methods. Empowerment of women, education of the children from poor families will lead India towards becoming an egalitarian society.
Make it easy to choose contraceptives
Education and convenient contraceptive choice are found to be more effective in controlling population growth because of the orthodox and bigoted beliefs of the Indians. They believe that children are Godís gift and more children would mean they would have more hands to supplement the family income.
Only family planning is not enough to control the population growth. States should make more effort to improve the education system. When people are literate and educated, most of them would have small families.
In Kerala, the population growth rate is just 1.2 per cent per year. The Centre and the state should give special benefits to citizens who adopt the single-child norm and those who adopt one child in case of infertility. Strict laws will help us as much as these have helped China.