[Answered] “Population control efforts need a focus on behavioural change at the societal level.” Comment.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Importance of behavioural change in population control.
Conclusion. Way forward.

India is looking for a viable policy to control population growth since population explosion. Although it was the first country to adopt a family planning program, in 1952, the country is still growing by 15.5 million people each year and will overtake China soon in term of population of any country. Population control efforts require multi-pronged actions especially focussing on behavioural aspect of citizens.

Importance of behavioural change in population control:

  1. The success of population education and family planning programmes demand informed individuals to act responsibly in the light of their own needs and those of their families and communities. Many in Indian society don’t feel responsibility to control population explosion. A responsible behaviour need to be developed in the society.
  2. The principle of informed free choice is essential to the long-term success of family planning programmes. Any form of coercion will not be effective. Rather a behaviour of satisfaction and accepting benefits of small family is needed.
  3. Over the past century, many governments have experimented with schemes, including specific incentives and disincentives, in order to lower and raise fertility. Most such schemes have had only marginal impact on fertility and, in some cases, have been counter-productive. Behavioural change is needed in form of accepting the seriousness of population explosion.
  4. A behaviour of using protective sexual measure would not only ensure  safety but will prevent unwanted pregnancy due to unsafe behaviour.
  5. An integrated approach linking population action to development, including human development, women’s empowerment, gender equality and the needs of young people is important to control population growth. This demand change in patriarchal mindset.
  6. A behaviour change is needed in people to acknowledge the importance of gender inequity and social/economic disparities as major barriers. Increasing women’s voice and change in women behaviour in reproductive decisions is critical.
  7. Increased benefits of birth control, better child survival, and strengthened social security are known factors. But still many go for repeated pregnancies either in want of more child or for preference of son. What is required is a behaviour change for accepting girl as equal to boy and to decrease preferences fir male child.

Women who have little access to health and education and those caught in a cycle of poverty, produce more and more children. Women empowerment can contribute significantly in population control measures. Thus the Union government and states with a higher TFR, should focus on overall social development instead of coercive population control measures. They should provide an enabling environment in which couples voluntarily opt for, and feel safe about, limiting their family size.

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