( May 21, 2016, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) In the last few years , after becoming the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi has taken several positive initiatives and formulated a number of innovative schemes such as Make in India programme to encourage domestic investment, clean India campaign etc. However, it is conspicuous that Mr. Modi has not so far stressed about the importance of population control in India and has not announced any special measures or policies to check the alarming growth of population level.
India has the second largest population in the world, witnessing high rate of population growth for several decades. The government of India claims that it has achieved fertility rate of around 2.1 for women and this rate is the population replacement level, which means that the population remain stable. However, many people do not think that such figures are adequate and India’s present population growth level continues to remain as a matter of very high concern.
What should not be missed is the ground reality that while the population continues to increase, around 30% of Indian population still live below poverty line, without the required basic amenities and not knowing as to where their next meal would come from.
While India led by Mr. Modi participated in the Paris climate conference with great enthusiasm and made impressive promise such as launching of massive renewable energy projects , afforestation scheme etc. Mr. Modi did not speak about India’s surging population and his plan to check it’s growth . It is well known that high population density could contribute to the ecological issues, particularly when such huge population remain undernourished without the required basic living conditions and without facilities for education. Unfortunately, no one in the Paris climate conference has spoken about the need for population control as one of the means for better ecological management, mitigating global warming and related issues.
In India , as in many parts of the world, life expectancy is increasing due to improvement in medical technology and health care. Life expectancy world wide is reported to have increased by about 5 years in the last fifteen years, according to the report released by Word Health Organisation. WHO says that globally life expectancy for a baby born in2015 was 71 for women and 69 for men.
While this increasing life expectancy is a happy sign, it should be admitted that such increasing life expectancy without adequate reduction in the population growth in India will only lead to greater population density. This situation only makes the population control issue in India to be a grave one, that should receive highest priority from the government.
In a country like India , population control needs can be achieved only by formulating and implementing a strong policy and imaginative campaign, particularly amongst the women who are less educated and who belong to lower income group. Women should be enabled and given encouragement, so that they would be in a position to assert themselves and resist the pressure for getting pregnant against their will. Obviously, empowerment of women has to be a central theme in population control policy.
What is needed urgently is that the Modi government should propagate one child norm in Indian families . While any compulsion in this regard would be resisted by the people and this cannot be implemented in India in the same way as was done in China , education and persuasion methods are appropriate and necessary.
Mr. Narendra Modi has to give priority for this vital issue of population control. If he would not do this, the benefits of several proactive measures that he has initiated towards the objective of welfare government would be nullified.
It appears that as far as the population control issue in India is concerned, Mr. Modi has lost two years as he has not emphasized this need in the first two years of his governance. Let it not be so anymore.