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12th August – Editorials/Opinions Analyses

Contents

  1. India’s population data and Projections
  2. From locker rooms to classrooms
  3. Hindu women’s inheritance rights Judgement: Explained

INDIA’S POPULATION DATA AND PROJECTIONS

Focus: GS-II Governance

Introduction

A new study argues that while India is destined to be the largest country in the world, its population will peak by mid-century and as the 21st century closes, its ultimate population will be far smaller than anyone could have anticipated, about 1.09 billion instead of approximately 1.35 billion today.

Fertility rate prediction

The study predicts that by the year 2100, on average, Indian women will have 1.29 children.

Since each woman must have two children to replace herself and her husband, this will result in a sharp population decline.

  • In contrast to the predicted 1.29 children rate for India, the study projected cohort fertility of 1.53 for the United States and 1.78 for France in the same model (both significantly higher than India).

The Contrast in the second half

  • The United Nations projects that India’s population will be 1.64 billion by 2050 and the IHME projects 1.61 billion by 2048 (quite similar projections).
  • In the second half of the century the two projections diverge with the UN predicting a population of 1.45 billion by 2100, and the IHME, 1.09 billion.

Reason for divergence?

  • Part of this divergence may come from IHME model’s excessive reliance on data regarding current contraceptive use in the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) and potential for increasing contraceptive use.
  • Research at the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) National Data Innovation Centre by Santanu Pramanik and colleagues shows that contraceptive use in the NFHS is poorly estimated, and as a result, unmet need for contraception may be lower than that estimated by the IHME model, generating implausibly low fertility projections for 2100.

Fertility decline

  • Regardless of which projection we consider, India’s demographic future contains a peaking and subsequently declining population driven by a sharp reduction in fertility.
  • In the 1950s, India’s Total fertility rate (TFR) was nearly 6 children per woman, today it is 2.2.

What did NOT accelerate fertility decline?

  • Family planning has long lost its primacy in the Indian policy discourse.
  • Between 1975 and 1994, family planning workers had targets they were expected to meet regarding sterilisations, condom distribution and intrauterine device (IUD) insertion and often these targets led to explicit or implicit coercion.
  • The stick of policies designed to punish people with large families has been largely ineffective.

Punitive policies include denial of maternity leave for third and subsequent births, limiting benefits of maternity schemes and ineligibility to contest in local body elections for individuals with large families.

What accelerated fertility decline?

  • It seems highly probable that the socioeconomic transformation of India since the 1990s has played an important role.
  • Over this period, agriculture became an increasingly smaller part of the Indian economy, school and college enrolment grew sharply and individuals lucky enough to find a job in government, multinationals or software services companies reaped tremendous financial benefits.
  • Hence, parents began to rethink their family-building strategies.

Retreat from family?

The literature on fertility decline in western countries attributes the decline in fertility to retreat from the family, however, Indian parents seem to demonstrate increased rather than decreased commitment to family by reducing the number of children and investing more in each child.

Way Forward

  • Demographic data suggest that the aspirational revolution is already under way.
  • What we need to hasten the fertility decline is to ensure that the health and family welfare system is up to this challenge and provides contraception and sexual and reproductive health services that allow individuals to have only as many children as they want.

-Source: The Hindu


FROM LOCKER ROOMS TO CLASSROOMS

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Introduction

  • Instances of non-consensual sharing of images online to threaten and shame girls and women have raised serious questions about the mindsets of not only boys but of all youngsters, and their use of social media.
  • Public opinion has pointed the finger at the growing and sometimes nefarious influence of technology.
  • A quick fix of deactivating social media handles or deleting so-called provocative photos is often the most common response to such situations. However, this does not address the real problem.

COVID-19 Effect

COVID-19 has exacerbated the challenges that women face – the National Commission for Women has reported a surge in domestic violence and cybercrimes, which has made girls and women more vulnerable as they struggle to fight another pandemic of violence and abuse inside their homes and online.

Efforts in the right Direction

  • Young minds are malleable and therefore a concerted effort must be made to shape positive mindsets at this critical age.
  • As the boundary between the real and the virtual world becomes increasingly blurred, the perceived risks increase.

Initiatives

UNESCO’s information booklet, ‘Safe online learning in times of COVID-19’, developed in partnership with the National Council of Educational Research and Training, supports the creation of safe digital spaces and addresses nuances of privacy, especially in the current context.

Potential

The National Education Policy 2020 provides historic opportunities to shape the educational response to these challenges for decades to come.

One of the most important lessons to be drawn from movements towards gender equality such as #MeToo, is that change can be effected through peaceful means when people come together to confront the dominant social norms.

Way Forward

  • There is merit in engaging with school communities, civil society organisations and governments to define alternatives for pre-existing norms of masculinities.
  • A community-based behavioural change programme can be designed to provide young boys with the skills and knowledge they need to challenge existing gender norms and take action to end violence and discrimination against women and girls.
  • Schools can adopt School-Related Gender-based Violence programmes and curricula, so that conversations can move out of the locker room and emerge as healthy discussions in the classroom.
  • Ultimately, societies across the world must sensitise children and young women and men towards understanding the repercussion of their choices and guide them towards a sounder actualisation of their own individualities.

-Source: The Hindu


HINDU WOMEN’S INHERITANCE RIGHTS JUDGEMENT: EXPLAINED

Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in news?

The Supreme Court expanded on a Hindu woman’s right to be a joint legal heir and inherit ancestral property on terms equal to male heirs.

What is the ruling?

  • The Supreme court ruled that a Hindu woman’s right to be a joint heir to the ancestral property is by birth and does not depend on whether her father was alive or not when the law was enacted in 2005.
  • The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 gave Hindu women the right to be coparceners or joint legal heirs in the same way a male heir does.
  • The SC said that since the coparcenary is by birth, it is not necessary that the father coparcener should be living as on amendment date of 2005.

What is the 2005 law?

  • The Mitakshara school of Hindu law codified as the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 governed succession and inheritance of property but only recognised males as legal heirs.
  • The law applied to everyone who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion.
  • Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and followers of Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj are also considered Hindus for the purposes of this law.
  • Women were recognised as coparceners or joint legal heirs for partition arising from 2005.
  • The law applies to ancestral property and to intestate succession in personal property — where succession happens as per law and not through a will.

How did the court decide the case?

  • The court looked into the rights under the Mitakshara coparcenary – and since it creates an “unobstructed heritage” or a right created by birth for the daughter of the coparcener, the right cannot be limited by whether the coparcener is alive or dead when the right is operationalised.
  • It was argued that “The Mitakshara coparcenary law not only contributed to discrimination on the ground of gender but was oppressive and negated the fundamental right of equality guaranteed by the Constitution of India.”

-Source: Indian Express

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