[Answered]“Population stabilisation efforts need to address existing socio-cultural barriers and ensure multi-sectoral participation.” Comment.

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual introduction.

Body. Existing socio-cultural barriers against population stabilisation.

Conclusion. Way forward.

 India, with a current population size of 133 crore is the second-most populous country in the world. According to The World Population Prospects 2019, India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country by 2027. The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) recently said that it will draft the roadmap for Population Stabilisation in the country. Although many efforts have been made in the past like population policy, sterilisation drive, but such measures had limited impact on population stabilisation due to some socio-cultural barriers.

Existing socio-cultural barriers against population stabilisation:

a.Social barriers:

  1. Poverty: The poor tend to have more children because child survival is low. Many poor families consider their children as assets. This is because they think that children can help support the family’s income by working at an early age.
  2. Illiteracy: Family health, child survival and the number of children a woman has are closely tied to the levels of health and education. With those having little access to health and education being caught in a cycle of poverty, leading to more and more children, and the burden that state control on number of children could impose on the weakest.
  3. Rural barriers: Another factor that create problems in controlling population is that most of the population in India live in rural areas. However, family planning is not extensively advertised in rural areas. Also, in rural areas, social and religious norms are more firmly followed. It has been observed that family planning is considered as an offence in most of the tribal and rural communities.

b.Cultural barriers:

  1. Social pressure: Many families feel that male children are essential. Therefore this increased the birth rate exponentially. This was also termed in economic survey as son meta-preference.
  2. Early marriage: Many individuals are pressured into marriage by society at a very early age. This also contributes to overpopulation.
  3. Perception against family planning: As it is well documented in literature that India is a country of diverse cultures and people come from different family background therefore it is difficult to change the perception of people toward such norms like family planning. Many people see use of contraception as awkward and feel shy to talk about it.
  4. Patriarchal mindset: In India, society does not give more importance on women’s education and women’s choice because of the financial conditions in some families and the religious and social norms. In such a case, educating women about family planning becomes an even more difficult task.

Way forward:

Certain measures can be taken to address the overpopulation. They are as follows:

  1. Spreading awareness: It is essential to spread awareness among the public about the negative consequences of overpopulation. This can be done through adult education anganwadi, AASHA, media, etc. It is essential to provide free education to women at least till the college level so that they need not be dependent on their male counterparts for survival and are willing to participate in the workforce.
  2. Reduction of infant mortality rate: It is essential to bring down the infant mortality rate. This is because, due to high infant mortality rates, many opt for increased birth rate to offset the loss.
  3. Women empowerment: The success of family planning mainly depends on women and their status. Thus, it is crucial for women to get proper education so that they can decide on the number of children they want and be aware of the available birth control measures. In India, it is important for women to have equal rights to take decision about the number of children to be produced.
  4. Government schemes on par with efficient family planning: Many opt for having children for the purpose of security during the later stage of life. If the government provides enough security through increased welfare schemes for the older population, people will opt for far lesser children.
  5. Promotion of the girl child: India is a society where the male child has far more importance than their female counterparts. Therefore many families tend to continue having children until a male child is born. Government policies must focus on the increased promotion of female children to address this problem. Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme is a step in the right direction.

To summarise, Population escalation is a major issue around the world which has adverse impact on numerous environmental and human health problems. The effectual way to stop population growth is to implement family planning policies but the exact way to achieve need to remove socio-cultural barriers and multi-sectoral participation. India has 13% of unwanted fertility– the product of unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, mainly due to the lack of education, awareness, family planning services, etc. If this issue is addressed, India will have 30 million lesser people by 2030.