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An unproductive idea: On UP Population law

Context:

  • Incentives and penalties form an integral component of the measures to control population growth, announced by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in July 2021. These steps are aimed at reducing U.P.’s total fertility rate (TFR), recorded as 2.7 by the National Family Health Survey-4 in 2016, a figure only lower than that of neighbouring Bihar (3.1 as of 2020 in NFHS-5).

Relevance:

GS-I: Indian Society (Population and associated issues)

Mains Questions:

  1. Socio-economic empowerment is more effective than coercion in cutting fertility rates. Comment 15 Marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • Introduction
  • Distribution and Density of Population
  • Determinants of Population Change:
  • Implications of High Fertility
  • Problems of Over-population in India
  • U.P’s New Population Policy:
  • Way Forward

Introduction

  • India’s population, by numbers, may overtake the population of China by 2027 (as per the projections made by UN’s Population Division), to make India the most populous nation of the world.
  • Such a large population invariably puts pressure on a country’s limited resources and is also responsible for many socio-economic problems in the country. Hence it is often seen as a liability, as it can act as a major hindrance to development and the quality of life of the people.
  • Demography studies the trends and processes associated with population including – changes in population size; patterns of births, deaths, and migration; and the structure and composition of the population, such as the relative proportions of women, men and different age groups.

Distribution and Density of Population

  • Patterns of population distribution and density help us to understand the demographic characteristics of any area.
  • The term ‘Population Distribution’ refers to the manner in which people are spaced over the earth’s surface and the term ’population density’ refers to the number of people living in each unit of area (such as a square mile).
  • India has a total population of 121 crores (or 1.21 billion) according to Census, 2011. Further, India’s population currently stands at 1.37 billion (2019, United Nations Population Division.), which accounts for approx. 17% of the world’s population.
  • These 1.37 billion people are unevenly distributed over our country’s vast area of 3.28 million square km, which accounts for 2.4 per cent of the world’s area. India’s population density therefore stands at 382 persons per square km.
    • The eastern region had the highest density of population of 625 persons per square km.
    • However, the North East had the lowest density at 176 persons per sq km. The eastern region was followed by the central Indian region in terms of density (417).
    • The southern Region had a population density of 397, while the western region, 344 and the Northern Region, 267. In terms of increase, the population densities of the regions of Central India, Northern India and Eastern India grew at a higher pace than the Western, North Eastern and Southern region.
Population density of India, state-wise.: IndiaSpeaks

Determinants of Population Change:

  • Fertility: The fertility rate refers to the number of live births per 1000 women in the child-bearing age group, usually taken to be 15 to 49 years.
  • Total Fertility Rate: It refers to the total number of live births that a woman would have if she lived through the reproductive age group and had the average number of babies in each segment of this age group as determined by the age-specific fertility rates for that area.
  • “Replacement level fertility” is the total fertility rate—the average number of children born per woman—at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next, without migration. This rate is roughly 2.1 children per woman for most countries, although it may modestly vary with mortality rates.
  • Determinants of High Fertility: As per data given by the Niti Aayog for the year 2016, the TFR for Indian women stood at 2.3. This is high and several factors contribute to the same:
    • Religious Ideologies
    • Universality of the institution of marriage.
    • Early marriage and early child-bearing.
    • Preference for sons ingrained in the Indian culture.
    • Lack of right of self-determination with reference to reproduction.
    • High infant and child mortality rates – (unsatisfactory health, low nutritional status and poverty) also contribute to a large family size.
    • Economic, social, cultural as well as religious value of children in the Indian society.
    • Absence of adoption of methods of conception control.

Implications of High Fertility

Apart from contributing in a big way to the population problem of the country, high fertility affects the family and, in turn, society in many ways.

  • Women are tied down to child-bearing and child-rearing for the best years of their productive lives. They are, therefore, denied the opportunity to explore other avenues for self-expression and self-development. This could lead to frustration.
  • Excessive child-bearing affects their health and that of their children. Looking after a large number of children puts a further strain on the slender physical and emotional resources of such women.
  • The burden of providing for a large family sits heavily on the bread-winner of the family. The constant struggle to maintain a subsistence level is exhausting. To escape from the problems of everyday life, men tend to take to drinking. This leads to further deterioration of the economic and emotional well-being of the family.
  • The children, often unwanted, unloved and neglected, are left to their own to make life bearable. The children in large families often have to start working at a very early age to supplement the slender financial resources of the family. They may even indulge in delinquency. Hence they are denied the opportunity to go to school and get educated.
  • The girl child is the worst sufferer in these circumstances. She is often not sent to school at all, or is withdrawn from school at an early age to help her mother in carrying out domestic chores and to look after her younger siblings when the mother is at work. Early marriage pushes her into child-bearing, and the vicious cycle continues.
  • The children, both boys and girls, in a large family are thus often denied the joys of childhood, and are pushed into adult roles at a very early age.

Problems of Over-population in India

  • Rapid population growth: Large populations increase rapidly especially in the absence of family planning practices. This leads to a large population of young people who are dependent on relatively small section of working population. At the same time the large number of young people put extra strain on social services.
  • Unemployment: In many underdeveloped countries industry is not well established and there are few employment opportunities for unskilled workers. Unemployment is therefore high. On the other hand there is a shortage of skilled workers because there are few facilities for training. In overpopulated rural areas unemployment or underemployment is also a major problem; people migrate to towns where it is often even more difficult to find work. Moreover, the towns become overcrowded, making living conditions poor.
  • Poor standards of living: Standards of health and hygiene and housing are low which leads to health problems and malnutrition and the spread of diseases. Ignorance of people and lack of financial resources further add to the problem.
  • Under-utilization of Agricultural resources: Traditional methods of agriculture, outdated or inadequate equipments. Lack of financial resources for improving farms, nonuse or misuse of marginal agricultural land, such as highlands, may all help to keep agricultural production much lower than its potential. Difficulties of rationalizing farming techniques and reforming land tenure to give larger, more economic farms are aggravated by lack of capita and by traditional attitudes of farmers who are often slow to adopt new ideas.
  • Slow growth of industry: Apart from lack of capital which makes the actual exploitation of resources difficult, the population factors are important. The labour force though large in number is unskilled and has no background of industrial employment. Similarly, though a large population should provide a good market for the finished goods, the majority of people are poor and cannot afford to buy the products. To produce good cheaply for a small market mechanized manufacture is most economical but this employs very few workers and does not help the unemployment situation.
  • Traditional attitudes militating against change: Traditional or religious attitudes may militate against change or may make conditions worse. Birth-control is forbidden by Catholic Church, for instance, and caste restrictions on occupations in India also help to slow down development. Less important is the conservatism of rural people regarding farming methods and the introduction of new crops (e.g. genetically modified crops). The latter attitude can be modified by education but it is often hard to modify the religious attitudes.

U.P’s New Population Policy:

  • The policy proposes five key targets: population control; ending curable maternal mortality and illnesses; ending curable infant mortality and ensuring betterment in their nutrition status; betterment of sexual and reproductive health-related information and facilities among the youth; and care of elders.
  • The UP government’s law commission has also prepared a population control bill, under which a two-child norm will be implemented and promoted.
  • As per the draft, violation of the policy is penalised with measures such as barring for elections and abidance is rewarded with measures such as promotion in jobs, subsidy etc.

Way Forward

  • Family planning is an effective tool to ensure a stable rise in the population. The government at all levels- Union, State and Local, citizens, civil societies as well as the businesses must take the onus to promote awareness and advocate the sexual and reproductive rights of women and encourage the use of contraception.
  • There is a need for well-researched planning and implementation on how to harness the population growth for the maximum economic benefit of the society and country.
  • In order to have a better future for all on a healthy planet, attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to poverty, gender equality, economic growth among others is critical.

-Source: The Hindu

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