M K Raina Ratnakar
India has come a long way from the days of independence and we are celebrating seventy five years of Independence with great zeal and fervor. India’s achievements are numerous which include a strong democracy, robust roots of secularism, higher education, nuclear power, stunning economic growth, and revival of numerous aspects of traditional wisdom and knowledge. In spite of all these achievements, several formidable challenges remain: exploding population, widespread poverty, illiteracy particularly amongst women, ruptures and cleavages based on region, religion, language and gender-threatening the social fabric, urban congestion, wounded eco-systems and critical power and energy situation.
It is necessary for all the citizens of the country to celebrate what India has achieved in 75 years, but this also becomes necessary for all of us to have a peep into the greatest challenge of our country which is population explosion. How this challenge precipitated and the ways to face the challenge? If this population explosion is not curbed by positive policies, we shall have to face the doom in the next decade. While celebrating 75 years of Indian Independence, all the citizens of India shall have to be made to ponder over this sensitive and highly strategic challenge of the country.
This challenge has to be tackled at various levels and also by various means. We should understand that the right and scientific education which was supposed to be imparted to many well meaning sects of society has not been rightly imparted in particular to almost all those women who are the real force in making of successful families, society and nation on one hand and on the other they have been fed on wrong education making them believe that they are only for producing children and propagate the race and that too when it is well understood that right and scientific education can empower women and through empowerment women can take control of their lives. We have failed to impart the right scientific education to such girls at young age. Definitely, the education of girls is held as the key factor in improving family health, reducing infant mortality and changing reproductive behavior. Educated women have increased confidence and self esteem and they stand up for themselves. They desire lesser children and seek best possible education and healthcare for themselves and their children. The subject in which women have the pivotal role has to be dealt judiciously communicating the sufferings of the illiterate and uneducated women of India who for one or the other reason have been taken for granted to be a machine for producing children. Not only that, but by imparting unjust, unsuitable and unscientific education to most of them, these innocent and uneducated women are also made to believe that they have taken birth for luring the husband and producing children only.
Many of these women who even come from an urban background and are somehow literate also, have also been kept bereft of justifiable and scientific education. Educating women on these lines results in improved income and economic development as well as a better quality of life, notably a healthier and better nourished and better educated family and society. Right education empowers women by providing them with increased autonomy in every sphere of life. Such education is also important for all kinds of demographic behavior, affecting health, sexual behavior, contraception and fertility. In almost every setting, regardless of region, culture and level of development, right education definitely results in fewer children. Education works as a stimulant in empowerment of women and their reproductive behavior. Education definitely makes women feel that they are not a machine for bearing and rearing a large number of children. In the relationship between education, fertility and the number of children, certain aspects of empowerment and autonomy are important and the same definitely get developed by right kind of education. The occasion of 75 years of celebration of Indian independence is the right time to take this challenge head on to create awareness and make such policies which will curb this explosion to make the life of every citizen of the country livable.
Population explosion in our country has surfaced the need to address these fundamental issues and that too at the earliest to make our rejoicing manifold. Review of the education imparted to certain sects of the society is the prime challenge to the nation. There is an urgent need to impart right scientific education to all these children from very early age so that they are able to imbibe the nuances of right scientific attitude to life at their earliest years in life to make the same the greatest part of their future life.
There is considerable evidence about women’s education, fertility, age of marriage and the number of children that if and when the right scientific education and scientific attitude gets developed in children in their early years of life, the life of such women changes in totality and these women become an asset to nation and the country . Definitely, by making the improvements in education and the changes in the system of education, we are sure to make our women empowered in other areas of life, such as improving their exposure to information, decision making, control of resources and confidence in dealing with husband and other members of the family and also the outside world which is wanting in most of them? Scientific education consequences have developed changes in women for reproductive behavior and number of children? Because it increases the age of marriage? Because it increases the practice of contraception? Because it reduces the women’s preferences for large number of children? To what extent is the psyche of the women affected because of unsuitable and undesirable education? To what extent are women influenced by justifiable, acceptable and scientific education which leads to having less number of children and providing them good quality of life and best possible education? What are the critical pathways influencing the relationship of women’s education to fertility? All this needs to be understood by having an introspection and then by giving it a systematic practical shape. The results are also to be noted from time to time.
Unambiguous and qualified support is needed for the widely held belief that fertility reduction is one consequence of improvements in female education and consequent changes in women’s empowerment and autonomy. Support will definitely be unambiguous because almost in every social setting, regardless of region, culture or level of development, the best educated women definitely bear fewer children than less educated or wrongly educated women. Support will be qualified because certain factors like the overall level of socio-economic development and the situation of women in traditional kinship structures complicate the general assumptions about the interrelationships between education, fertility and female empowerment .
If, as a nation, we don’t curb the growing population and create an awareness in female folk as early as possible, we shall have to face multifarious challenges with respect to hunger, poverty, water scarcity, scarcity of medical facilities, environmental degradation and political instability.
M K Raina Ratnakar