India must build awareness on population control

Source: The post is based on the article India must build awareness on population controlpublished in The Hindu on 29th December 2022. 

Syllabus: GS1- Population and associated issues 

Relevance: Issues related to population control and family planning 

News: The article explains the debates and discourses around population control in India. 

India was among the first nations to address its population problem as early as 1951. While there has been a significant rise in India’s population, there has also been a sharp decline in India’s total fertility rate. In 1950, the TFR was at around 5.9%. As per the fifth NFHS, it is now 2%. 

What is the nature of discourse around population control? 

The debate around the need for population control has been greatly politicised in India. The discourse around such a sensitive issue has been reduced to petty religious issues. 

Before the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the government came up with a draft Bill on population control. But the suggestions were more political than practical. It seemed to be a part of majoritarian politics. 

What is indicated by data on the gap between Hindus and Muslims in adopting population control measures? 

NFHS data indicate that the fertility rate of Muslims is higher than Hindus. But, the gap between the two has shrunk substantially. In 1992-93, the gap between the Hindu and Muslim fertility rates was 1.1. It has now reduced to 0.35.  

A close comparison of Census data on average fertility rates is insightful. For instance, Uttar Pradesh has around 20% Muslim population. Its TFR declined from 5.8% in 1981 to 2.7% in 2011. Data also show that Muslims have adopted better family planning measures than Hindus. 

Why should India not adopt population control measures? 

India’s TFR is even lower than the replacement level. It is a remarkable step in the population control parameters.  

Forced population control can have very dangerous consequences. It can create a gender imbalance 

Forced population control measures have not shown promising results in the countries that have implemented them. The most relevant example is China. The one-child policy has proved to be disastrous. It has created demographic imbalance. The population of China is ageing faster than in any other modern country. 

What is the way forward for population control? 

India needs to adopt population control measures. But the focus should be on strengthening public health infrastructure and raising awareness about the need for population control.  

Any forced control method will impact the rate of ageing. United Nations data show that there is a projected rise in the population of older people and a decline in the young population in many countries.

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