Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Overpopulation Crisis

Note: This Post contains material which may be suited ONLY for adults. So if you are not one, I would recommend that you do not read this post.

India is currently the World’s second most populous nation. Almost all of us know that. Yet, hardly any of us has tried to do something about this fact, namely limit the population growth. True, most middle class families have adopted the one child principle[Not legally of course, unlike the one in China], which has helped in slowing down the population growth rate. However, in the rural areas[which still constitutes of over 70% of India’s population], the situation is bleak. Most families have more than 6 members in all, and many parents still have 5-6 children on an average. This situation is alarming, since huge population has severely hindered India’s progress for the last few decades. And the bulk of it is constituted by the rural people, and also the Lower Class/Poor category people.
Though the Census results will be displayed in 2011, it is estimated that India’s population is inching towards the 120 crore mark. This is an incredibly high figure since India constitutes just a mere 2.4% of the total Earth’s surface by area. Yet, neither the Government, nor the people are bothered. As if people prefer to have more and more children, even if that means additional burden on their income, and no dips in poverty levels. People keep comparing this figure with China, saying that China has a larger population, but they forget that China is a much larger country than India, and apart from a few places[Shanghai,Beijing,etc] the population distribution is more or less even. Compare this with India, where in some areas the population density shoots up to over 900 persons per sq km. In fact the situation is so bad, that in some villages, there are a lakh households spread across an area of mere 9 sq km.[I know it sounds hard to believe but it is the truth]

Why has the situation gone from bad to worse? Why do people keep having more and more children? Let us look into some of the factors: 1) Lack of basic education- Most people don’t have any idea about how the reproductive system works, neither are the aware about maternal health and child care, as a result both sectors are heavily neglected. 2) Refusal to use any Contraceptives- Many people are still superstitious and refuse to utilize condoms, pills, etc and most people will remember the 70’s eras, when forced sterilization was carried out with catastrophic ramifications. The bottom-line is- Most Indians stubbornly and arrogantly refuse to use contraceptives, and would rather have multiple children than to stay content with a small family. Though it is also true that due to lack of awareness, many people don’t get access to contraceptives and do not know how to use them. Awareness camps have done little, and the Government has hardly spent any money in educating the mass, especially in rural areas. Sex education remains a taboo, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, such as the ferocious AIDS, are on the rise. 3) Male Child Preference- India still has a dismal sex ratio of around 927. The demand for a male child gives unnecessary pressure on a woman to keep having children[even at a risk to her health] till she delivers a male child. Even worse, the poor girl is blamed for giving birth to a female kid, even though its actually the male chromosome that determines the sex of a child. Many people still follow this policy- The More, the Merrier. Some people believe it’s the act of God who sends children, so such an act must not be opposed by using contraceptives. They even cite the example of Gandhi, who was against such measures himself. However they subtly forget to mention that Gandhi[after the age of 37] was a celibate, and strongly preached in the favor of abstinence. The modern day man clearly thinks otherwise.

Sex is one of the most basic and primitive human[or animal?] needs, as most biologists and psychologists will remark. So a person cannot simply be told to practice abstinence. However this does not mean that he should keep on producing more and more children, even after knowing that he cannot afford to take care of them. This only adds to the poverty[as we know that Food Grains increase in Arithmetic Progression, and Population in Geometric Progression] and not only affects the parents, but the entire society and hence the whole country. I believe that 90% of India’s problems can be directly or indirectly attributed to overpopulation. This can be simply reflected at the state of our miserable public transport system. Our buses, trains are so over-crowded that a normal person simply cannot make any journey in peace. No wonder so few foreigners prefer to come to India. All places around them are cramped by people, people and more people. Most of them are poor, uncouth, sadistic and follow unhygienic or immoral practices. But the saddest part is that, hardly anybody is doing anything about it. Overpopulation is one of the biggest impediments for India’s Economic development, yet the Government calmly ignores it, since politicians believe ‘More the number of People, the more votes they can capture.’ The average common Indian faces lots of difficulties, but decides to indifferent. After all, the solution is connected with the biggest taboo in India- talking about sex. And no Indian, poor or rich is willing to seek out the solutions when it deals with sex education.

The biggest problem is that ‘Power corrupts, and Absolute Power corrupts Absolutely.’ This is true in case of the reproductive power of man. Theoretically, a man can produce infinite number of children. So when someone has unlimited power, he is bound to misuse it. Which has become the case in India. Seeing that the fertility levels shot up the roof, each man tried to show the other[in Hindi we call it Mardanagi ] that he was more capable, by producing more children. ‘How dare he have 8 children, I will produce 11,’ he remarks without a speck of worry for his poor wife. The truth is that the problem of overpopulation has been exacerbated by the fact that people refuse to speak about sex and discuss sexual problems or even issues such as menstruation [only around 3% of women have access to sanitary napkins] or child care. They falsely believe that sex education will corrupt the minds of children. However they don’t understand that in the absence of sexual education, a child will get misconceptions which may be harmful for him. In fact, in a recent survey it is seen that most parents do not discuss anything about sex with their children, and it is obviously not taught in many schools[as everyone from politicians to teachers avoid even alluding the topic] as a result they come to know about it via pornography, or from their peers and seniors, which gives their minds a very negative impact.

In fact, such is the callousness of the Government, when it comes to the Overpopulation issue, the UP Government[Health department] recently remarked that the people should be given more TV sets which will help in lowering the population. Instead of taking concrete steps, they are just dodging the issue. And now, Uttar Pradesh can proudly boast that they have managed to beat Brazil- Not in any football match of course[not even close]. But in terms of population, they are all set to beat Brazil[20 crore plus and counting].

At least, on the plus side we can say that every sixth person in the World is an Indian.


Abhid-d said...

Hi. The Government is shy in announcing firm family planning measures because :-

1) Religious leaders (especially from Minority communities) will raise a fuss. They say "bacche toh upar waley ki dein hain...hum kya karen ?"

2) After Sanjay Gandhi enforced sterlization during the emergency, any talk of sterlization is politically Incorrect for any political party.

3) Some economists (even in the government) have coined a term called "demographic dividend". It means having an ocean of a cheap labour population, compared to an elite but expensive western labour pool.

They don't see how we'll provide foodgrains, affordable housing and jobs for an ever increasing population.

I think its high time we have a China-style enforcement of a say, 2 child norm. Else, face higher taxes throughout the next 18 years and fines.


Satwinder Singh said...

Thanks for the comment Abhid, and you are quite right. :)

Politicians have a real role to play in this situation.

Ana_treek said...

What is the use? Even educated people have 3 kids, Their attitude is we'll stop when we have a male child, its ridiciulous and frustrating!

Satwinder Singh said...

@Ana_treek: Not all educated people are running after more children. In fact the higher class are learning their lession, maybe slowly but surely. But that is the typical Indian attitude. Not much different from our obsession with fairness or treating education as a mere tool to get employment. Plus our reluctance to take risk. Its all part of Indian mentality. Quite unfortunate.

Abhid-d said...

Welcome Satwinder. At least Ghulam Nabi Azad has started talking positively now, on what is a political hot potato.

From last month's news :-


But he's still shy of making family control mandatory. Only this can halt India's exponential population growth. Slogans like "Hum do hamare do" really falls on deaf years.


PS. Thanks for folowing my blog.

sanket said...

After Sanjay Gandhi's disastrous experiment with forced sterilization "parivar niyogan" became a political hot potato and was kept on a back burner, the result of which we are seeing today. along with this the gender bias and lack of education means the population problem will go on.

However the huge young population which will enter the the work force will prove to be a dis-inflationary force and if handled well can lead to a massive rise in economic productivity in the next 20-25 years.

Satwinder Singh said...

@Abhid_d: No problem dude, you write quite well. :)

@Sanket: Very nicely said. :)

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