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SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS



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

This is the seventh instalment of readersí response

Every man is a solution

WE should follow the accredited two-child norm in letter and spirit. Curb and control are empty words that no longer evoke fear in us. We are basically a nation so divided that we do not like to follow anyoneís diktats, because we see these as coming from one community or the other. Some of us keep even up to four wives and oppose a uniform civil code in the country.

Nationalism is just one aspect we have; and the other is religious fundamentalism. We rarely honour the seriousness of any purpose. We cite the example of China, but forget that it exercises absolute control over its population, which is alien to our culture.

Late marriage cannot do any miracles because miraculous new medicines are able to prolong our reproductive life. Our own desire alone can change the situation. We should give women an equal power to take decisions and fully exploit our natural resources to feed the existing population. If everything fails, I have no alternative but to recommend polyandry.

BALKAR SINGH, Mukerian

Rope in NGOs

THE Health Department should create awareness among the general public at family and community levels. The media and the NGOs should support this campaign.

Public service broadcaster can expose a large number of viewers and listeners to the information regarding family welfare programmes, health facilities, free sterilisation and the use of contraceptives.

Contraceptives should be available conveniently and at all times.

Sex education should be made part of the syllabus in higher courses. Religious leaders should motivate the people to adopt the small-family norm.

Breastfeeding should be encouraged for up to three years at least because, during this period, the chances of getting pregnant are remote. The legal age for marriage should be increased and child marriages should be prevented.

Girl child should be given high education so that she grows up to become a wise mother.

Dr DARSHAN SINGH, Sirsa

Panchayat is the best motivator

Over the last many years, I have travelled to many villages to create awareness about various health programmes. I can say from my experience that panchayats are the best motivators of their people.

Social workers and volunteers from the Health Department can only pass on the information to the people. Itís up to the people to use it. Couples opting for one-child norm should be given incentives.

Funds for family welfare are needed more in rural areas and slums. We need to lay down some code of conduct for politicians as well. The failure rate in vasectomy/tubectomy should be checked. Harsh measures can be put in, but with caution.

Dr NINDERJIT SINGH, Garhshankar

Education is the only way

The only way to control this fast multiplying population is education. Educating adult men and women (especially in the child-bearing age group) academically and socially can show positive results. Rural youth need to be educated, as it is rural India that adds more to the population. Educating girl/woman means educating the entire family, womenís education should be stressed.

Domestic help in cities, slum dwellers, and the labour class are potential contributors to the swelling numbers. Perhaps, they want more earning hands in family. It is hard to make them understand the basic concept of a small and self-sufficient family, but selfless, positive-thinking and laborious volunteers can achieve this target.

ANITA KATARIA, Patiala

II

The couples who successfully restrict the number of their children to one or two have a better level of education that those who fail to do so. The illiterates should be made aware of the benefits of having a small family. The issue should be on the national agenda. Illiteracy, the main hurdle, has to be removed. Contraceptives should be freely available to the people, as is the case in Thailand; and stringent laws should be enacted, as in China. Those who still do not adopt family planning should lose some privileges as citizens.

CHAMAN SINGLA, Bhucho (Bathinda)

III

The public is yet to fully adopt the family planning programme because our women are still uneducated. Only an educated woman can understand the importance of family planning programme. The government should honour couples who follow the family planning programme.

ANJU AGGARWAL, VPO Ugala (Ambala)

Infrastructure should be in place

I donít see how India can be the richest country in forthcoming decades in terms of manpower, if there is no proper development of the people and resources.

We are yet to have awareness and health centres in every city, town and village. We havenít even exploited fully our natural resources. If our infrastructure were in place, the pressure of maintaining that high standard of living would have encouraged the people to control the growth of population.

Population growth is directly related to psychic mobility. Economic development could have brought this psychic mobility to the poor.

Intellectuals can work well as motivators, but they have to stay committed to contribute.

RASHEED ABBAS, Malerkotla

Popularise family education

Family education should be popularised and gender equality should be encouraged because in Indian homes, itís the desire for a male child that results in big families. The wards of couple endorsing the one-child norm should get free education and job in the public sector. Political leaders having more than two children should be debarred from contesting elections.

The key lies in strict implementation of these steps.

PRIYANKA SHARMA, Gurdaspur

Take up social reform

Leaders of all faiths should do their bit to change the age-old mindset and bias towards the male child. In some religious texts, the importance of the male issue has been unnecessarily blown up.

The Health Department should have an in-built wing of highly motivated, dedicated and sincere persons, who could meet the targets and bring social reform. Thrust should be on womenís education. Girls belonging to the poor families should be encouraged to join school and provided with free tuition, textbooks, uniform and writing material.

N. .R PATHAK, VPO Rakhoh (Mandi)

Gram sevikas did great job

The future where an army of unemployed youth would take to streets and destroy everything we achieved after Independence is already upon us, while we discuss the subject in AC halls in front of an audience that has long gone to sleep.

Coercion, as witnessed during emergency, will not work. The people need to be educated and persuaded to adopt family planning measures. Not long ago, health-visitors in towns and gram-sevikas in villages used to tour the streets to distribute contraceptives, discuss, guide and advise. They had personal rapport with women in their area, who heeded their counsel. This vital link between the government and the people should be revived.

Some states have promulgated a two child-norm for the candidates for Panchayat elections. It should cover all municipalities, state Assemblies and Parliament. Incentives to small families will be a progressive step.

J. K. MAGO, Panchkula

Adopt one-child norm

The only way to control our population is to enact a law where one-child norm is enforced. No other coercive or democratic method will succeed. The Malthusian Theory of Population has started operating. Already there are tsunami, large-scale terrorism and road accidents in great numbers. We should understand how the nature works and, if we succeed, we should pass some to this wisdom to our leaders.

BHARAT KUMAR GUPTA, Kandaghat

Prevent bigamy

We have different laws for the people of different religions, which would nullify any new law brought in to control the growth of population. If all citizens and law-making agencies commonly work to end bigamy and female foeticide, and reduce unwanted pregnancies, we can hope for some change. The government could give incentives to couples who adopt family planning after the birth of two children.

Government help should continue after the birth of the second child so that the family at least considers birth control. This will prove to be good for at least the poor. Public representatives should follow these norms even more strictly.

YOG RAJ GUPTA, VPO Saryanj (Solan)

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