Earlier in Forum







Q: What steps should be taken to curb
the growth of population?

This is the fourth instalment of readers’ response

Men should shoulder responsibility

Fertility needs to be controlled in order to check the growing rate of population. Though India’s fertility rate has declined from around six children per woman in 1970 to almost half in span of 35 years, it is still very high as compared to total fertility rate of 1.5 for the more developed countries.

The high birth rate in the country is mainly because of child marriages, a strong desire to have a son, misconception about contraception, lower socio-economic status of women, etc. Besides, the family planning programme is basically centred around women. A very negligible proportion of couples rely on male contraceptive methods like vasectomy and condoms. Vasectomy accounts for a very low percentage of all sterilisation operations performed.

Most of the family decisions are taken by men alone, as they are socially and economically better placed as compared to women. Family welfare measures should also target men, so that they are persuaded to share their responsibility in this regard, too. A multidirectional approach with special emphasis on raising the socio-economic status of women can help arrest population growth.


Prevent child marriage

A few days back, the Prime Minister had remarked that the link between social and demographic trend was obvious and too stark to ignore.

The National Family Welfare Programme was launched in 1951 to bring the birth rate to the extent necessary to stabilise the population level to make it consistent with the requirements of the national economy. Its results have been far less than expected, as nothing can be achieved without the people’s wish. It lacked incentives for adoption of the small family norm.

The government should offer the public a wider and affordable choice of contraceptives, and better counselling, too. It should enforce the Child Marriage (Restraint) Act. All NGOs, teachers, politicians and literate citizens should work with the various government organisations to make the public aware of the need to control the birth rate.


MPs with more than 2 kids should quit

Before Independence, India population was nearly 40 crore, but even the creation of a new nation (Pakistan) didn’t bring down the number. It has now shot up to more then 100 crore.

Due to widespread illiteracy and superstition, the people in India believe that the child has only one mouth to eat, but two hands to work, which leads them to have more babies.

The public should be made aware of the two-child norm and motivated to curb their desire for the male child. We need to curb growth in population to keep our economy intact. The media can take this message very effectively to the masses. We need a policy for giving financial aid to the household where a female child is born.

The government jobs and membership of Parliament should be only for those who have not more then two children. The literacy drive should continue with full thrust in the rural areas. Illegal immigration should be checked.

SIMMI MOHINDRU, Jalandhar City


Ban a person having more than two children from contesting any election. Eradicate illiteracy. Curb male dominance and improve the status of women in society. The desire for a male child is the root of population growth. All government servants or new entrants having more than two children should be asked to quit. Involve schools, colleges and universities in raising awareness against this menace. Use media as a weapon. Special training camps should be organised for students and future parents to educate them about the role of contraceptives in birth control. Offer better employment to persons voluntarily offering to undergo sterilisation after one child. Adopt the one-child norm.


Take harsh steps

Vote-bank politics and reservation is the recipe for population explosion. The lower class should be made more aware of. Leaders who have more than two children should not be allowed to enter Assembly or Parliament.

We should emulate China and take some harsh steps. Those having more than two children should be dismissed from service. Women have a vital role in curbing the growth of population, for which they should have access to better healthcare and be aware of the dangers of producing more babies.

S. SHARMA, On e-mail

Allow only one child

Adopt preventive measures to curb the growth of population. The policy makers should pledge not to have more than one child. They should not appease anyone for votes. Any person who violates the norm should be punished severely. Irrespective of the number of marriages, a person should be allowed to have only one child, male or female. No relaxation should be granted under any circumstance.

S. K. NAYAR, Panchkula

Doctors can reach out to mothers

All Indians should be educated. Doctors should tell expectant mothers why they should not have more than two children. Education should penetrate villages and small towns where the people are illiterate and poor. The media can be helpful in spreading the message of birth control. Street theatre will make a profound impact in villages.

HARSH GULATI, Kapurthala

Learn from China

We should adopt the Chinese “carrot and stick” policy to restrict the alarming rate at which our population is growing. Their enforcement of the law is harsh, but effective. Poverty and ignorance are our two biggest enemies. We have to build an environment where everybody understands the importance of having a small family.

We should think of giving attractive financial incentives like free healthcare up to a certain age, subsidised education and job offers to the children of the poor who decide to limit their family.

Social and economic security packages like old-age pension, old-age care and regular employment guarantee should be enhanced. Focus on education of the girl child and women’s empowerment through vocational education and self-help groups. We should reserve disincentives for the large family. One already in force is that a person having more than two children cannot contest in the panchayat elections.

PURAN SINGH, Nilokheri (Haryana)

Introduce one-child norm

The government as well as the public are responsible for this grave problem. If the alarming rise in population continues at the present rate, it would throw the country into turmoil. The day is not far away when people would start fighting over food and drinking water. It would lead to unrest in the country, shattering the economy.

The government should introduce the one-child norm by enacting stringent laws. While the families following this norm should be suitably rewarded, those having a girl child should be given priority in government jobs. They should also be given more financial benefits.

RAJESH SHARMA, Jalandhar Cantt

Provide education to all

To curb the growth of population, the government should first provide education to all sections of society because only literacy can help educate the masses about the ill effects of growing population. Special courses relating to such issues should be included in schools and colleges curricula to spread awareness among students.

Secondly, the government should try to eliminate the sex-based discrimination that is plaguing our society. Thirdly, the couples who have two children and are ready to adopt family planning in future should be suitably awarded. Such initiatives, if taken with sincerity, can surely help contain the haphazard growth of population.

SUKHBINDER SINGH BAINS, Lehli Kalan (Hoshiarpur)

Counsel couples

Population has doubled in many other countries as well over the last decade. It is important for us to know how their people look at various methods of birth control, in order to decide the best alternative. In India, the family planning programme targets primarily women who are the least powerful decision makers in family and society.

Family planning efforts will be more effective, if couples are counselled and not just the woman. The programme should be integrated with the healthcare, welfare and education programmes. Prevention of marriages of girls below the age of 18 is absolutely essential. If a couple has more than two children, their taxes should be increased. A more gender-equal social structure should be created. Researches shows that educated women are more likely to marry later and have healthy, better-educated and less children.


Remove poverty and illiteracy

Overpopulation is a serious problem. Unfortunately, very less has been done by political parties and the government to fix it. All programmes started by central and state governments targeting poverty, illiteracy and family planning have failed due to the lack of will power, ever-growing corruption, bureaucratic apathy and petty vote politics. The failure of population control can’t be attributed to one or two reasons. To device an effective long-term population control policy, we should first remove poverty and illiteracy, which are the main factors behind the rising growth of population.

Most of the rural families with landholdings want to restrict the number of children to avoid the division of land. Thus, it is imperative for the urban as well as rural families to restrict the number of children out of economic compulsions. So, the stress should be on the elimination of poverty and illiteracy.

Above all, it has been observed that the states with a high literacy rate tended to have economically better-placed population and less growth.

The government should focus on the empowerment of women, promotion of health care and education and balanced regional development to control population. These efforts will fail to yield expected results until a long-term, comprehensive, transparent and multidimensional policy is formulated in a corruption-free environment.


Secure commitment of leaders

India has the potential to curb this seemingly intractable problem. Various provisions and laws have already been enacted, but these haven’t brought us much success because there is no mechanism to secure the commitment and support of leadership. There is neither initiative not participation from this quarter. The programmes that formulated need proper and efficient implementation. This implies that the people’s participation at the grass root level is essential, and that cannot come without education.

Consistent participation of people, review and change should be integral parts of the programme. Concept of late marriage should be promoted and democratic decentralisation should be more emphatic. Family planning should be taught in school. Students from cities can take the message of birth control to the rural masses. Public health centres in villages should keep stocks of free and high-quality contraceptives.

Urbanisation will help because pressures of living in cities will force couples to have fewer children.


Consistent effort is needed

Various laws to arrest overpopulation have had little or no success. Slums and underdeveloped areas should be the focus of our attention. The NGOs should adopt at least one slum each. Members should visit these places regularly and interact with the people, sit with them and talk with them about the implications of having too many children in the family, supply them with birth control tools and advice them on how to use these devices. With the active support of society (NGOs or individuals), we will soon achieve what we desire. All we require is consisted effort.



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