Adopt area-specific, target-free approach
The population bomb is ticking. Any delay in defusing it will bring about national disaster of unprecedented proportions. Our strategy should be to increase public understanding of how rapid population growth limits our chances of meeting our basic needs.
Individual choice, human rights and collective responsibility are central to allowing families to plan their size. The Family Welfare Programme supplies the infrastructure, manpower and consumables needed for improving the health and status of women so that they follow the fertility regulations.
The National Population policy, 2000, affirms the commitment of the government towards voluntary and informed choice and consent of citizens in administering healthcare and continuation of target-free approach in administering family planning services. Sterilisation is the most logical, safe and cost effective contraception technique that will protect us from unwanted progression. The government agencies should adopt an area-specific approach based on cultural and socio-economic situation. One cannot use the same yardstick for all states.
Local bodies should come forward to make the people aware of issue.
Dr S. K. AGGARWAL, Amritsar
The population explosion has eaten into the vital resources of our country. Coercion will not be the right response, as the Emergency has shown. Illiteracy and poverty, the major causes of population explosion, should be removed first. Education and empowerment of women are the main tools for stabilising the population. An educated woman will definitely have her say in choosing the size of the family. She will prefer to have a small, but prosperous and healthy family to a large, impoverished and unhealthy one. Disincentives for large families may have some effect, but barring the persons having more than two children from contesting elections is one disincentive which is bound to be critical.
G. R. KALRA, Chandigarh
Get latest in birth control
The growth of population should be checked by making the people aware of the small-family norm. The latest methods in checking conception have not reached far-flung areas. These should be made available in every corner of the country.
Poverty has led to the growth of population as the poor have no other way of entertainment but sex, so planning should be done to curb poverty. We should adopt strict family planning measures to check the birth rate.
China’s one-child model should be our inspiration. We should educate our women, so that early marriage is eliminated.
It is essential for us to bring down the birth rate, or nothing will be left for the coming generation.
PRABHJOT KAUR, Jalandhar
Educate the masses
A number of steps by various governments, including those taken during the Emergency, have failed to check the growth of population, which is the major cause of poverty in India.
A major step required to be taken to reduce the growth of population is to educate the masses. Educated youth understand better the repercussion of having more children. There is hardly any educated couple with more than two children. Most of them are satisfied with having one child only. The uneducated and the illiterate normally have six to eight children in the family.
Another step we can take is to educate the people about the use of contraceptives. Most of the rural and uneducated youth do not use contraceptives. The advantages of contraception could be conveyed through the media and programmes conducted by the NGOs.
As long as every couple is not willing to check the growth of population, no order or authority can do anything, and couples can be made to understand the bad consequences of having a large family through education alone.
Col B. S. GHUMAN (retd), Mohali
Population explosion has caused large-scale poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and hunger. Even our fundamental requirements are not being fulfilled. In this country, a child is born every 1.2 seconds and in this world of about 700 crore humans, India’s contribution is 110 crore. How can the teeming millions avail themselves of the facilities created for a few hundred thousand only? The youth are the worst affected, as opportunities for them have dried out.
If population grows unabated, our food reserves and other natural resources will soon get finished. Environment degradation is also due to this increase in population.
We should lead this fight with an awareness campaign, followed by coercion, if the first wave of attack fails. Awareness should reach rural areas, for which television is the most suitable medium. Literacy, particularly among women, is necessary, if population has to be controlled. Population in less literate states like UP, Bihar, Rajasthan and MP is more than the population in literate states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Punjab.
BALWINDER SINGH, Moga
Only education can pull us back to safety. Appropriate subjects, that raise our awareness of this issue, should be taught in schools and colleges. Media can play its role and so can street theatre.
DAPINDER MUNDAE, Ludhiana
Besides better family planning and health infrastructure, to stabilise population growth rate, we also need better education, especially for women. Education changes one’s attitude towards family size and marriage. Most educated persons delay getting married and prefer to have small families when they do. Education, by attacking orthodoxy and superstition, induces the people to practice family planning.
Population study should be a compulsory subject in schools and colleges so that the younger generation realises the social implications of population explosion. The minimum legal age for marriage should be increased.
RUPINDERJEET PANDWALA, Dera Bassi
Empower, educate women
Poverty and illiteracy are the two main reasons behind the burgeoning population, but little has been done to address this problem. The rich and the educated try to limit the size of their families, whereas the poor and the illiterate do otherwise. Since the majority of our population still lives below the poverty line, population is likely to grow unabatedly.
In our male-dominated society women are looked down upon everywhere and the desire for a male child keeps shooting up the population. Therefore, the empowerment of women is necessary for progress.
Education up to graduation should be free for girls and their admission in professional courses should be subsidised. There should be at least 50 per cent reservation for women in all government departments.
The government should enact stringent laws to check female foeticide and dowry to make India enlightened and developed.
D. P. JINDAL, Mandi Gobindgarh
The population of India would touch 140 crore by 2026, making us the world’s most populated country. The growing population will crowd schools, clog streets, choke the transportation system and jeopardise electricity, water and sewerage systems.
We have only 2.4 per cent of the worldwide land and 16 per cent of the world’s population. Population density could wreck our infrastructure. Newer methods of birth control can halt population growth. Families living below the poverty line should be covered under an inducement drive.
Encourage monogamy and prevent child marriages. Candidates having more than two children should not be allowed to contest elections. Families who do not adopt the two-child norm should get no government job or aid. Special incentives for those having one child should be introduced.
We should have a comprehensive healthcare and development policy covering educational and economic needs and raising the status of women. The literacy rate among women should be boosted. By giving sex education to children, we can avoid unwanted pregnancies.
SURESH KHOSLA, Chandigarh
Take family planning to villages
Overpopulation is an issue that needs to be handled with care. The government should spend more on healthcare and family planning (a mere 6 per cent of the GDP is spent on these). Family planning programmes should cover each corner of the country. The media can educate the people about the benefits of having a small family.
The people from the lower strata of society need to be educated, so that they limit the sizes of their families and are able to provide their children with better education.
The NGOs can also play an important role in promoting birth control. We have to coax, cajole and prod people to tackle this problem.
The population boom has cramped the country for space. We need new programmes like giving rural-area pension for not giving birth to more than three children, as the problem is more severe in villages.
BHAVYA KAMBOJ, On e-mail
Don’t make the issue political
The media should raise this as a most serious issue facing the nation so that the government accords priority to it. Once the media has set the ball rolling, the intelligentsia can take over by debating the many solutions that are possible.
The change need not even come from the top, if there is consensus on this issue at the grass roots. It will keep the issue out of politics and make it a truly national.
AJIT SINGH LIDDAR, On e-mail
Understand economics of size
To ensure control, there is a strong case for educating the public about the relation between quantity and quality of population. Human capital formation to improve the quality of population cannot be thought for a large family. The economics of small family and its benefits in terms of per capita availability of necessities, comforts and luxuries should be the subject of discussion all across the country.
There is a strong case for involving every Indian in the process of family planning. To ensure credibility of the census data, there should be minimum time lag between the collection and publication of the data and consistency in interpretation of the important data on socio-economic indicators. We need better coordination between different data collection agencies and better database. Population control can be harmonised by empathy (not sympathy), patience, motivating oneself and motivating others. Woman empowerment is another aid.
Prof M. M. GOEL, Kurukshetra