Date: 9 Dhul-Qadah 1442   Friday 18 June 2021

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Opinion: Family Imbalance Dangerous to Social Cohesion and Economic Growth

11:26 05 May 2021 Author :  

The reconstruction of society based on justice is the need of an hour. In present times, most of the bills passed in Parliament are against the citizens of the country, whether they are farm bills which are not just anti-farmers but anti-poor or Citizenship Amendment Act which is discriminatory and against the citizens. Justice-loving people are struggling against these decisive laws, yet the people in power are prepared for more such decisive  bills which may create more chaos in the society in upcoming days.

In the reconstruction of society where youth play an important role as India has huge human resources in terms of youth, similarly women too have equally important roles to play as future generations will be literate only if the woman of a family is educated. But, according to various sources, the administration is prepared to bring in “Population Regulation Bill” which was introduced in Parliament in 2019 also. If passed in near future, direct victims will be women and in future it will affect development of not just our beloved country but the entire world because a large number of skilled citizens of country are contributing their services to many countries across the globe.

Nayantara Sheoran Appleton, a Faculty at Centre for Science in Society, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, writes in thewire.in (July 18, 2020): “The biggest victims of the Bill (Proposed Population Regulation Bill 2019) will be Indian women in general, of this generation as well as of many to come. Many women already cannot choose to refuse marriage or to reproduce, and are forced to undergo non-voluntary birth control measures. These ‘habits’ will only intensify under a law that passively legitimise such actions, including forced sterilisation, IUD insertion and use of hormonal contraceptives (even when they may be medically inadvisable). Female infanticide will also likely worsen, from the current skew of 909 female births per 1,000 male births. In effect, the Bill will ensure the continued marginalisation and erasure of women from public life.”

She further suggests, increase in spending on public health – and not bills that punish people for crimes they didn’t commit – will safeguard women’s rights and contribute to a healthy population. Instead of Population Regulation Bill, India should consider a ‘Population Investment Bill’ that takes the health, wellbeing and education of its citizens seriously.

US India Policy Institute finds some important aspects when the population of a nation reduces. It quotes, “Records of demographic transitions across the globe have shown almost irreversible trends leading towards low fertility, low mortality and high living expectancy regimes. Last about two thirds of the century, especially the period after the Second World War has seen revolutionary trends in population growth, stabilization and falling fertility. Most of the countries in Europe, Japan, USA, Australia and Canada have been recording lower than replacement fertility, low levels of mortality and high life expectancy. It takes at least two child births in the life of a married couple, or 2.1 births per woman to sustain the human population.”

It also states three strong implications of the population imbalance are : (a) labour shortages; (b) lower sex ratios affecting women’s status and increasing family stress; and (c) increase in the ratio of old-age dependency.

The rapid decrease in the birth rate, combined with an improving life expectancy, has led to an increasing proportion of elderly people and an increase in the ratio between elderly parents and adult children. In the absence of old-age pensions, approximately 70 per cent of the elderly are financially dependent on their offspring.

In China, this problem has been labelled the “4:2:1” phenomenon, meaning that a couple (two) are responsible for the care of one child and four parents. The government has eased access to government pensions and has launched schemes to encourage saving for private pensions in an attempt to reduce the burden of the 4:2:1 phenomenon. In addition, urban couples who are themselves both only children are now allowed to have more than one child. Yet the recent policy liberalization allows only for two children! This very important finding of the research is eye-opening, which not only destroys the society but also highly impacts the family system of India, which is the backbone of culture and traditions of various communities. This is the situation in China. If the Population Regulatory Bill is passed, it will affect India as the family system of our nation is more or less better compared to that in some other countries.

In an interview to livemint.com, Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of the Population Foundation of India (PFI), said, “Disincentives through denial of benefits under anti-poverty schemes such as subsidised food grains through the PDS will impact the poorest and most marginalised sections of the population and worsen their impoverishment.” The Population Regulatory Bill is “misguided” and a misreading of India’s demographic trajectory.

She further added, “The Economic Survey of 2018 points out that ‘son meta preference’ – the desire to have a male child – has resulted in 21 million “unwanted girls” in India.”

Imposing a two-child norm will add to the burden on women, by way of sex selective practices and forced sterilisations. This could result in a setback to population stabilisation efforts, as it happened during the Emergency period in the mid-1970s. The policymakers, MPs and the government should reaffirm India’s commitment towards a rights-based approach to family planning. The government should raise budgetary allocations in order to ensure expanded contraceptive choices for delaying and spacing births and better access and quality of healthcare for young people. This will not only lead to improved health, but also visibly improve educational outcomes, raise productivity and workforce participation, and in turn result in increased household incomes and economic growth for the country.”

With the above-mentioned findings, we can conclude that for the betterment of society, we need a strong and healthy family system, which not only protects the future generations but also helps develop the nation, morally and economically.

By Syed Azharuddin

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Almujtama or its members

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