World’s largest democracy and the world’s second-most populous subcontinent- India.
With more than 1.35 billion people residing, India is home to almost 18% of the world’s total population.
The cherry on the cake is overwhelming population growth, which is roughly equal to the total population of Australia.
Since the government gained its sense, population growth control has been on the agenda as the scarcity of resources isn’t a myth and the environment’s degradation is a bonus slow poison.
Since the first 5 years plan to PM Modi’s recent Independence day’s address, population control and family planning have been consistent.
During independence, when the population was less than that’s of today, farming was the only livelihood for an overwhelming majority of this country.
Widespread protectionism measures were taken up to prevent the outflow of finances as the country in itself was unstable. Still, the surplus wasn’t enough to feed the population. Uneven distribution and unplanned exploitation of resources were degrading the environment in India substantially.
Majority of the country’s youth was formally unemployed. So, the population growth became a concern for then diplomats.
Hence in the first five years plan, natural method of birth control found its space.
They also promoted natural devices for family planning.
The only shortcoming was, till 1952 it was the rural population mostly responsible for population explosion, who weren’t even aware of any such agenda.
They were busy fighting untouchability (caste system), zamindari (over-exploitation of workers and unreasonable taxes) and healthcare.
There’s no significant change in 2020, other than the names (of course).
So, although family planning found a way into the government’s agenda, couldn’t find one into people’s homes.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
The population growth was in no way slowing down. Provided the period I’m talking about marked some of the greatest riots and wars in the country. Religion triumphed over logic and reasoning.
So, in the second five-year plan, the focus shifted to the major problem, education and research.
But what’s the point? Implementation was still questionable.
Sterilization and other methods of birth control found their ways in 3rd and 4th 5 years plan.
The population started shifting to urban areas. Farming techniques started changing to ensure efficiency.
So, finally, people heard the concept of family planning.
But it was the 5th term that marked a significant change.
The first National Population Policy (1976) came into the picture.
Marriageable age which was set according to the Sharda rule (1929) was changed to 21 years for boys and 18 years for girls.
Policies like incentives for birth control measures were introduced.
Also, education of girl child started gaining importance. The welfare schemes started reaching people and Central assistance was provided to the state’s plan for population control.
All these efforts were being widely debated in the country, but since it was during the time of emergency, voices weren’t heard.
The problem arose when the central government permitted states to legislate for coercion and compulsory sterilization. Use of force and coercion degraded the status of family planning as a welfare scheme.
Subsequently, another significant change arrived post the 9th five-years plan.
In 1993, the new national population policy started formulating under the chairmanship of MS Swaminathan, which finally came through in February 2000.
It was important and widely accepted as it not only took population growth into account but also child’s health or infant mortality, proper contraception and women empowerment as well.
This plan had a temporary, mid-term and long-term objective. Recruitment of health workers to improve child’s health and reproductive health was made a part of a temporary objective.
The mid-term objective included a fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman. The long-term objective was more or less stabilization of population growth by 2045.
It was also decided for the proper implementation of this policy that the Lok-Sabha composition remains unchanged until the year 2026, i.e., 553 elected seats. The number of MPs from different states was fixed as per the 1971 census.
Coming to our state Odisha, I still remember the ‘Green card’ reservation. It was started in 1983 and the idea was to give benefits to families with 2 or fewer children some benefits like reservation in an educational institution, at the district and state levels.
Although the system is repealed now due to its mass misuse in 2012, it was a game changer for Odisha.
As of now, official records show a considerable success of these population control measures.
According to census data, population growth was 17.7% between 2001-11 which is of course less against the previous decade, i.e., 21.5% during 1991-2001.
Last year’s Independence Day celebration was marked by Honorable PM’s address on population control.
It included consequences of population explosion and about the fact that smaller families are happier and more content.
He also referred to smaller families as an ‘Act of Patriotism’.
Nevertheless, his speech was being given a religious drift by a certain section of the population.
Additionally, it rose speculations for another population policy, but the assumption is not something journalists do.
I’d rather be called an impulsive writer. Although emotion is not something that drives my pen, the utter necessity of Justice does!