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

This is the sixth instalment of readersí response

Disincentives work better than campaigns

The government doesnít need a publicity campaign to control the growth of population. These modes have rather resulted in degradation of moral values and increase in sex-related crimes, as these have corrupted the innocent minds.

Besides, these measures cost the exchequer heavily. Seminars on safe sex are "strictly against our culture" for the masses. In the name of government policy, display vulgarity is a matter of shame and more so when the campaigns have failed miserably.

A simple policy would do the needful. Parents who have more than two children should surrender their right to vote, government jobs, ration card and allied facilities. A special tax should be imposed on these parents.

The couples who decide to go issueless should get government jobs and those who adopt the one-child norm should get the benefit of free education for the ward up to class XII. Child labour should be strictly banned and the employer and the guardian should both be punished.

RAJESH LAKHANPAUL, Mukerian

II

The problem of overpopulation has to be tackled on two fronts: an effective employment policy that can absorb the growing number of workers and promote economic growth, and an imaginative family planning programme to encourage families to adopt two-child/small-family norm.

Unfortunately, the official policy is to rely heavily on the latter without linking it to the former. A pure birth control drive is a narrow approach, which can never pay. To stabilise the population, there should be stronger stress on social development with the involvement of decentralised institutions.

Family planning strategies should be linked with provision of minimum needs. Emphasise on removal of child marriage, dowry and other social evils and allow locally elected bodies to set targets for social reform a dole out cash incentives. However, family welfare should largely be a target-free approach, as previous efforts failed when targets were set. Official fabricated figures and did nothing on the ground.

HURSUKH MANJEET, Jagraon

III

Population explosion has become the root cause of many other related problems like poverty, mismanagement and unemployment. For population stabilisation, the role of public awareness is significant.

The media has an excellent power to brainwash the minds of the people, who are still largely superstitious, ignorant and misguided. The craze for the male child forces parents to deliver innumerable children (female) in a row. By repeating negative images of families with a lot of kids, the people can be made aware of the dangers of having more children.

However, as most of the people live below the poverty line, for them such motivation is, well, just motivation. We need to think on more practical lines for better results.

H. S. DIMPLE, Barnala

IV

Recently, our Prime Minister has said population control should not be coercive, but voluntary. His idea is that we should motivate the people to adopt family planning. More growth of population is in rural areas, so family planning drives should concentrate more on these areas, where it is important that we first remove illiteracy and orthodox ideas.

In India, the media is an excellent tool to educate the masses. However, a better way would be to get the government to bring in more incentives and disincentives.

DEEPAK SARAF, Rampura Phul

Want kids, pay tax

In 1947, at the time of Partition, the population of India, Pakistan and Ceylon was 53 crore. At present, the population of India alone is one billion. All the developed countries of world have controlled their population growth.

China has passed a strict law that there will be just one issue from one couple. Anybody having second child pays tax to the government for 18 years. Is it not possible that this law be passed in India?

The law should be enforced for all, as there is no other remedy in view.

Pt. SHANTI LAL SHARMA, Ambala City

Population is an asset

I donít know why we always look at the negative side on things. We still consider the population as a burden, while it is actually a blessing in disguise. According to a recent World Bank study of demographic transition, there is a vital connection between economic growth and population growth, although to an extent. Today, Japan faces a lack of people of working age, as a large chunk of the Japanese are of old age and counted in dependent population. Fortunately, India still has a huge working population. The working population consequently raises productivity and the savings rate. For example, our software engineers are in great demand in foreign countries.

ISHAN GOEL, Paonta Sahib

Effort shouldnít be half-hearted

Some of the effects of overpopulation are visible in cities. Slums have sprung up everywhere, insanitation prevails because of too much pressure on civil amenities, land is shrinking under our feet.

Roads look like pathways for ants. Overpopulation has disturbed the ecological balance of nature, too. Future is dark and the pace of progress is retarded.

Development plans will be nullified, if overpopulation continues as a result of half-hearted use of contraceptives. Even opening of family-planning centres will not solve the problem. Adoption of newer, more effective measures is the need of the hour. A more intensive campaigning is required.

PRERNA JAIN, Ludhiana

Bring new adoption law

Our main area of concern should be execution of women education programmes. We should end gender bias and curb female foeticide and sex determination tests. Birth control techniques should be made more liberal and convenient. Loopholes in the adoption laws should be plugged, so that more and more couples go for it. Women, especially, should not feel that their family is incomplete without a son.

The need of the hour is to make students aware through books, newspapers and magazines, to prevent them from picking knowledge from the street. Rural folks should realise the evils of having large family sizes. The biggest challenge is to ensure peopleís participation. Hope is another thing we should have.

DEEPSHIKHA MITTAL, Ludhiana

Improve quality of population

The question asked seems to be incomplete. Since, there is no "quantitative against qualitative" aspects of the question. The rising population growth of India has been reflected right since the Independence, but no one has ever analyzed the problem of illegal immigrants, who are the root of this mess.

Population is of two types, good citizens and bad elements. While the government should try to curb the growth of bad elements, the nation should continue to need good citizens.

Every nation needs people who could think out the problems on their own. We find that a vast majority of the educated persons of the country do have more than two children, which shows how education can curb the growth of population.

Today, when every nation is trying to improve the qualities of animals and vegetation by adopting scientific methods and conducting research on the topics, the human element should not be ignored. The policies should apply equally to each citizen.

Lt Col RAVI VAID (retd), Chamba

Sterilisation should be compulsory

For about 50 years, creation of awareness, motivation to adopt small family norms, incentives and disincentives had been the main features of the working of the family planning programme. In spite of these measures, population has increased tremendously. Unfortunately, the lower class didnít embrace the philosophy of small family. Suggestions for stringent measures to bring them in the ambit of the policy were turned down. During the Emergency, Sanjay Gandhi embarked upon a campaign of forced sterilisation. It was vehemently opposed by all parties to derive political mileage. The consequence was population explosion.

Lack of political goodwill, illiteracy and religious beliefs paralysed the programme. These factors will continue to prevail for years. By then, population will acquire catastrophic dimensions unless checked firmly. Situation warrants that population control must be declared national emergency. Eligible couples should be compulsorily sterilised.

Dr PREM CHAND, Joginder Nagar

Focus on lower class

To curb the alarming growth of population, the government should concentrate on the lower strata of society, for which it can adopt some persuasive as well as stringent measures. Families can educate their maid servants. The families who adopt the two-child norm should be awarded suitably.

They who have more than two children should be devoid of all these concessions and facilities. Their right to vote should be withdrawn. Whenever the govt floats a housing scheme for the poor, only the families with just two children or less should be considered for allotment.

KULPALAK KAUR, Mohali

Lay tiers for producing kids

Population can be controlled through checks and balances. The lower age for marriage should be enhanced from 21 to 24 and the upper age limit should be reduced from 60 to 50. Government should make it a law that men having income less than Rs 5,000 would produce no child, men with income between Rs 5,000 and Rs 7,000 should have just one child, men earning between Rs 7,000 and Rs 9,000 should have two children and men with income over 9,000 would be strictly told not to produce a third child.

A wide-ranging concessions, privileges and relief should be listed to be offered to men who comply with these instructions. This is just an income-related device for control of population. Persons who do not comply with the norm do not deserve punishment; coercion should always be avoided.

RAMESHWAR LAL JAIN, Malerkotla

Medical science has new solutions

Population is directly proportional to education. Educated and well-to-do parents stop reproducing after having two children. Most of my friends and relatives have two children; even friends who have two daughters have not gone for the third child, and that includes even the Muslims.

It is the poor and illiterate who got for more children; almost one child per year. Hence the remedy lies in educating the masses.

It is unfortunate that Sanjay Gandhiís drive was the last sincere drive against population explosion.

Today, a lots of medicines are available that can help mothers avoid unwanted pregnancy. For example, the use of one Levonorgestrel tablet (PLL-72) within 72 hours of the intercourse will effectively prevent pregnancy.

C. L. KATARIA, Amritsar

Educate future citizens

Only education can hold back the raging bull of population. Everyone should get appropriate education regarding the dangers of overpopulation. Appropriate subjects should be taught in school and college and it should be mandatory for each student to attend this class. The media should keep highlighting the problem as part of a well-managed propaganda.

DAPINDER MUNDAE, Ludhiana

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