Population Control: Need to do away with ‘Hum Do Humaare Do’?
By Byomakesh Kumar Singh
In an interesting turn of events, Andhra Pradesh’s Chief Minister, N Chandrababu Naidu rged people to have more than two children
Releasing a White Paper on ‘Human Resources and Social Development’, the Chief Minister said that 50% population in the country would be below 25 years age by 2029, while countries such as China and Japan would be with a population with age more than 38 years.
Andhra Pradesh should not lag behind in that demographic advantage. So, the government was contemplating announcing a policy to encourage population growth, he said.
“Two decades ago, I was the first person to take the initiative in population control. I realised that at a certain time there will be no younger generation due to population control. We should not face similar experience which Japan and China are facing,” he said.
Family Health Survey of 2015 data shows fewer babies are being born than people are dying in South India – a trend that would eventually result in a declining population. The trend does hold in North India with states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar – two states that together make up a quarter of India’s population – recording very high fertility rates of 2.74 and 3.41, respectively.
To illustrate with an empirical example, in 1951, Tamil Nadu’s population was slightly higher than Bihar’s. However, six decades later, Bihar’s population is nearly 1.5 times Tamil Nadu’s. Madhya Pradesh in 1951 had 37 percent more people than Kerala; in 2011, it had 217 percent as many.
Central transfers is also an evident inference of the stark difference in population. Madhya Pradesh, for instance, recieves two-thirds more central money than Karnataka, and Bihar 50 percent more than the Telugu-speaking states. However, central sources of data reveal that Southern states contribute to the overall GDP of India as compared with their Northern counterparts.
To some extent, Naidu is right on his part since our country needs a young working force, which is possible only if the birth rates are at par with death rates and not less than them. His rage is justified in the sense that southern states are the biggest contributers to the GDP of the nation, yet they receive less central funds in comparison to the northern states.
But a few people will argue that overpopulation leads to shortage of resources. But does overpopulation necessarily leads to shortage of resources?
Lets understand it with simple math that portions of a roti shared by two people will be larger than if the same roti is shared by four people. And so, if the numbers are capped, resources available per head would increase.
But this assumes that the size of the roti is necessarily fixed and that the roti is always shared equally among people, whatever their number.
The first assumption has been disproved by history, as the world has survived the doomsday theory propounded by Thomas Malthus more than 200 years ago. We find ways to expand resources as needs grow, though sometimes at the expense of nature. The population also does not keep on growing endlessly on its own and is largely dependent on social factors.
The hollowness of the second assumption becomes evident just by scratching the social realities of the world we live in. A major share of resources is consumed by a minor share of the population – those residing in developed countries and the elites living in developing countries. The US, with less than 1% of the world’s population, eats up a quarter of the global fossil fuel resources. Closer home, the richest 1% of India enjoy more than half of the country’s total wealth.
In many petitions before the Supreme Court, it has been urged that the third child must not be provided with facilities such as free and compulsory education to the child, and also that family must must not be provided with government aid and subsidies. The Supreme Court held these petitions to be in contravention to Articles 21, 21(A), 45, 51 and held that it is not right to do so. Furthermore, the petitions will create two sets of citizens which is against the principles of Right to Equality as enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
A study conducted in five states showed that the “two child” policy led to a huge number of unqualified persons to get elected in the panchayat elections. 805 of them are Adivasis, Dalits or OBCs. This clearly violates the 73rd amendment of the Indian constitution which aims to give political representation to people from marginalised communities in democratic processes.
The declaration of the National Colloquium on Population Policies (2003) organised by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also recapitulates the two-child policy as regressive and viols the principle of voluntary informed choice, human rights and rights of the child. The Economic Survey (2016) boasts of a higher working-age population as an economic advantage over countries like China, where the strict population control measure has led to an ageing population. All these commitments and pronouncements cannot be ignored. Furthermore, there is no ‘population bomb’ ticking and we must focus on the fact that we will have a younger generation (28 years) in comparison to other nations. Only by their help can the nation progress and better future lies ahead.