Dr. Pradeep Kumar Singh
Unabated growth of population is causing upsurge in struggle for resource sharing and increased insensitivity towards environment. Indian mythological history states that whenever such conditions happened, the Mother Earth approached the Gods (Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh) in disguise of a cow, presented its sufferings and requested them to intervene. Due to very high population density, the condition of India is getting worse day-by-day. We all raise slogan “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, but Bharat Mata is looking towards the Constitutional Institutions with a hope for population control.
Population of the country was about 34-crores at the time of independence.It increased to about 121-crores in the year-2011, and is estimated about 139-crores at present. Political parties never gave a collective serious thought to the population control. On the contrary, a few keep patting the back on the growing population, and keep mocking China’s efforts to population control, commenting that 65% of our population is young and that the dragon is getting old.
Although as many as 37-Bills for population control have been introduced in Parliament by several sincere MPs of various parties, yet all the attempts proved to be futile. According to Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta, “one should keep performing one’s duty without caring for the result”. The society honours the efforts made by all these MPs. Repeated failure of the population control bills in Parliament is a big question mark on functioning of the democratic system and political parties.
Recently Government of Assam has taken initiative for population control. Government of Uttar Pradesh is also working in this direction. Instead of extending support to these efforts, many politicians are protesting by raising irrational issues. A few looking from a communal point of view, are holding the policy against the Muslim society, some are questioning political intentions suspecting for electoral gains. Some consider it unnecessary altogether, while a few observe the birth of children as the will of Allah. It has been observed, whenever population control initiatives are taken, negative forces get activated to create hindrance.
It has been observed that as the number of variables increases, the difficulty in solving mathematical model increases rapidly. Same is the case with population. The increase in population has affected the quality of human life (nutrition, housing, education, health, employment, family and social relations, etc.). Due to the ever decreasing per-capita resources, human sensibilities are getting weaker, and human beings have started exploiting one another. It is difficult to imagine the behavior of human beings with nature and environment.
Some political parties believe that the number of children in a family depends on the thoughts of husband and wife, and that the Constitutional Institutions should not interfere. But it is worth noting that the rules have been formulated and laws have been enacted in several such issues. It has been made mandatory for drivers to wear helmets and seat-belts to ensure safety.The minimum age has been fixed for getting married and consuming liquor.Also, wearing mask has been made mandatory during the Corona period for protection. Thus, important decisions cannot be left to the will of the people. Population growth is the biggest threat to the country, due to which the per capita natural resources are decreasing. The indifferent view of Constitutional Institutions has been disappointing in this regard.
In the past decades, government efforts for population controlwere also made. But in the year 1976, during emergency, the society got badly disturbed due to misbehavior of the government machinery in the family planning program. As a result, in the Lok Sabha elections held next year, the Government at Centre got changed due to adverse effects in some states. Since then no political party has taken any concrete initiative on the matter. Here it is worth noting that this family planning program was a forced sterilization campaign during emergency. Those who protested were tortured. There was widespread negligence in the campaign. The healthcare support was not satisfactory, which also led to deaths due to infection. So, the public outcry was not wrong.
In February-2020, the Madhya Pradesh government also took the initiative of population control, but put the responsibility of making the society aware of family planning, on the health workers. It is worth considering that the followers belong to politicians and political parties, and sometimes carry out undemocratic incidents (like highway jam, railway track jam, chakka jam, Bharat Bandh, gherao of Constitutional Institutions, destruction of public & private properties, and political violence)with their support. But the responsibility of persuading the society for family planning is assigned to the health workers. Population control is extremely important issue. It will be better that public representatives themselves play a leading role in spreading awareness for adopting family planning measures.
Population growth is a national problem. There is a need to rise above party politics and make a uniform effective law for population control through detailed discussionin Parliament. Often two types of policies are adopted – encouraging, that is, by offering special benefits to those who adopt family planning; and discouraging, that is, by depriving of the benefits of government schemes to those who do not adopt family planning. These policies can widen the gap between the rich and the poor, and sooner or later, under pressure from the media, or due to political or constitutional reasons, the government may be forced to help those who do not adopt family planning for getting backward in society. Therefore, the success expected from these policies is doubtful.
The proposed population control policies make parents of more than two children ineligible for government posts and elections to panchayats and municipal bodies. In fact, it would be better and also rational, if the eligibility of all constitutional posts including members of central and state legislature is also determined by Parliament on this basis. According to Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta “often society follows the conduct established by the honorable people of the society”.
Numerical strength has a special importance in a democratic set-up. Thus, there can also be a political reason for the rapid growth of population in a few sections, and creation of hindrance to efforts for the control. Keeping this in mind, under the discouraging policy for population control, abolishing the voting rights of parents of the third child can also be considered. The provision of necessary government permission for the second child can also be useful option to keep the birth rate low.
It is necessary to understand that the “youth/elderly”ratio will definitely decrease due to decrease in birth rate, but consistent efforts for population control are necessary without any distraction. It is well known scientific fact that the head-lights get faded while starting a vehicle, and the medicines invariably cause side effects during treatment of illness. The expected fall in the “youth/elderly” ratio shall be the punishment of nature due to ignoring the growth of population for decades.The delay in enacting an effective population control policy will invite increased severity of punishment. The disease of population growth has passed many stages, only long-term effective treatment can provide relief.
(The author is Professor and Former Dean (Research & Consultancy) Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering & Technology, Longowal, Longowal)
Dr. Pradeep Kumar Singh