Dr Y Udaya Chandar
On July 11, 2021, World Population Day, Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, unveiled his bill for UP, “UP Population (Control, Stabilization, and Welfare) Act 2021”. The purpose of the law is to discourage and prevent UP people from having more than two children. The law provides heavy incentives for those with one or two children and heavy penalties for those with more than two children. The law also contains various provisions on the health and welfare of persons; it also has conditions for uniform personal laws. He wants to bring a demographic balance between the different communities in the state. The CM has invited public comments and suggestions on the draft law by July 19, 2021.
The bill was appreciated by people for whom all the ills of the country are due to our uncontrolled population growth. They also think that we have reached a stage of demographic explosion.
The bill has also been harshly criticized. Their arguments are as follows: we have not yet reached the stage of the demographic explosion; such a draconian law is not necessary while all Indians live happily and comfortably; the policy may lead to increased feticide, illegal abortions, infanticide, and a skewed sex ratio and, in any case, the country’s population growth rate is declining. They also felt that the policy, if implemented, would endanger women’s health and well-being. They cited the Chinese experience, which is reversed from the one-child norm to the three-child norm.
These are not the first attempts to control the Indian population. The central government and state governments have introduced a plethora of family planning incentives. Governments even offered cash incentives for vasectomy and tubectomy. But none of these gave the expected results. There is hope that the current UP Act will succeed because Yogi, a tough taskmaster, is taking care of it.
UP Assembly elections are scheduled for 2022. Population policy could become a decisive issue for the BJP. We don’t know now how the UP electorate will react to this issue. If the BJP wins, the Population Law wins. If he loses, it will be the end of the case. The BJP is building on the current short lull on the law to examine its impact on the coming year’s elections.
The fact is that Indians want more children because of various factors; many are not satisfied with just two children. Most want a son, and they keep trying to get him, and in return produce more children. Even educated people desire two sons and a daughter. Lately, some educated people with well-paid salaries are limiting the size of their children to one or two. It is because of the skyrocketing cost of education, a good school collects more than two lakh rupees for preschool admission in a major city.
Size of our population and territory
At the time of our Independence in 1947, our population was 361 million, and it was 318.6 million people counted in the 1941 census. India’s population as of April 2021 is 1392.7 million, according to Wikipedia. In about 20 years, we’ve added about 400 million mouths, most of them unworthy and undesirable. If we continue with the same passion to give birth to children, we could hit the 200 crore mark by 2050. However, our demographers are confident that our population will level off one day and not be 200 strong. Many Indians feel that we don’t have to worry about our numbers and that there are no adverse effects on this growth. Do they want to wake up when we reach 200 crore?
India has suffered land fragmentation of a high order. A farmer with three hectares of land and three sons will divide his three hectares among his three sons, and each owns one hectare. See what happens when these sons have to divide their land among their more than one sons. Land fragmentation has many adverse effects, starting with unprofitable agriculture.
In 2010-2011, India had 117.25 million small landholdings (less than one hectare), and it had risen to 125.86 million in 2015-2016. Due to fragmentation, the average land per person in a rural household is 0.2 hectares in 2015-16.
India represents 17% of the world’s population and around 4% of the world’s water resources. India experiences an average rainfall of 1,170 millimeters (46 in) per year, or about 4,000 cubic kilometers (960 cu m) of rainfall per year or about 1,720 cubic meters (61,000 cu ft) of fresh water per person every year. About 80% of its area experiences rainfall of 750 millimeters (30 in) or more per year. However, this rain is not uniform in time or geography.
The Department of Housing and Urban Affairs has proposed 135 liters per capita per day (lpcd) as a benchmark for urban areas. For rural areas, the Jal Jeevan mission has set a minimum service provision of 55 lpcd, which can be raised to a higher level by states. These quantities are clearly insufficient compared to the global data.
India currently stores only 6% of its annual rainfall or 253 billion cubic meters (8.9×10 cu ft), while developed countries strategically store 75% of annual rainfall in arid river basins. India is overly dependent on groundwater resources, which cover over 50% of the irrigated area with 20 million tube wells installed. About 15% of India’s food is grown using rapidly depleting groundwater resources. The end of the era of massive expansion of groundwater use will require a greater reliance on surface water supply systems.
India is not short of water, as water is running out of India without extracting all its potential benefits. The construction of onshore water reservoirs is very expensive after covering the expenses of compensation and rehabilitation of land and property. Despite adequate average rainfall in India, there is a large area under less water/drought prone conditions. There are many places where the groundwater quality is not good. Another problem is the interstate distribution of the rivers which serve 90% of Indian territory. It has created several conflicts across the states and across the country over water sharing issues.
Of India’s 3,119 cities, only 209 have partial treatment facilities and only 8 have full sewage treatment (OMS) facilities. One hundred and fourteen cities are dumping untreated sewage and partially cremated bodies directly into rivers. Unsanitary conditions in both urban and rural areas of the country are due to insufficient water availability. India now ranks 133rd in the world when it comes to the amount of water available per person per year.
poverty in india
India ranks 94th out of 107 countries in terms of hunger and is in the “severe” hunger category according to the Global Hunger Index 2020. According to the study, 14% of the population is undernourished. Last year, the country’s GHI ranking was 102 out of 117 countries. India has around 84 million people living in extreme poverty, which represents around 6% of its total population as of May 2021. A 2020 study by the World Economic Forum found that “some 220 million Indians were supporting a level of expenditure below Rs 32/day – the poverty line for rural India – by the latest headcount of the poor in India in 2013”.
According to the World Bank’s revised methodology, India had 179.6 million people under the new poverty line and China 137.6 million. The world had 872.3 million people below the new poverty line on an equivalent basis in 2013. In other words, while having 17% of the world’s population, India had a 20.6% share of poor of the world.
The employment situation in India during the period of Covid 19, as of March 2020, is quite a different phenomenon. Thus, the unemployment situation before Covid 19 is mentioned here. India has not been able to establish parameters to define “unemployment”. In absolute terms, according to the various Indian governments between 1983 and 2005, the number of unemployed in India has steadily increased, from about 7.8 million in 1983 to 12.3 million in 2004-05. India’s unemployment rate rose from “7.3% in 1999-2000 to 8.3% in 2004-5,” the World Bank report says. While India’s economy has shifted from being primarily based on agricultural employment to one where employment is a mixture of agriculture, manufacturing and services; the economy largely experienced “jobless growth” between the 1980s and 2007. Service-based industry was not “particularly employment-intensive”. The rapid growth of the service sector did not solve India’s unemployment and underemployment problems – and the employment needs of its growing population – between 1983 and 2010. According to the Pew Research Centre, a large majority of ‘Indians regard the lack of employment opportunities as a “gigantic problem” in the country. “About 18.6 million Indians were unemployed and another 393.7 million were working in poor quality jobs vulnerable to displacement,” the Pew report said in 2018-19.
The National Sample Survey Office report says young men had unemployment rates of 17.4% and 18.7% in rural and urban areas, while young women had 13.6% and 27.2% respectively. in 2017-2018. However, Indian government think tank NITI Aayog says these are unofficial and the data is not yet verified. India’s labor force is estimated to be growing by 8 million a year, but the Indian economy is currently not producing new full-time jobs at this rate.
I hope the best sense prevails over all Indians.