The Population Growth Rate In India

1428 words - 6 pages

The Population Growth Rate in India

     For many years concern has been voiced over the seemingly unchecked rate
of population growth in India, but the most recent indications are that some
success is being achieved in slowing the rate of population growth. The
progress which has been achieved to date is still only of a modest nature and
should not serve as premature cause for complacency. Moreover, a slowing of the
rate of population growth is not incompatible with a dangerous population
increase in a country like India which has so huge a population base to begin
with. Nevertheless, the most recent signs do offer some occasion for adopting a
certain degree of cautious optimism in regard to the problem.
     One important factor which is responsible for viewing the future with
more optimism than may previously have been the case has been the increase in
the size of the middle class, a tendency which has been promoted by the current
tendency to ease restrictions on entrepreneurship and private investment. It is
a well-known fact that as persons become more prosperous and better educated
they begin to undertake measures designed to eliminate the size of their
families. (The obvious exception would be families like the Kennedys who
adhere to religious strictures against artificial birth control, but the major
Indian religions have traditionally lacked such strictures.) Ironically, the
state of Kerala which had long had a Communist-led government had for many years
represented a population planning model because of its implementation of
programs fostering education and the emancipation of women. The success of such
programs has indicated that even the poorer classes can be induced to think in
terms of population control and family planning through education, but increased
affluence correspondingly increases the pressure for the limitation of family
size, for parents who enjoy good life want to pass it on to their children under
circumstances where there will be enough to go around. In contrast, under
conditions of severe impoverishment there is not only likely to be lack of
knowledge of family planning or access to modes of birth control, but children
themselves are likely to be viewed as an asset. Or, perhaps one might more
accurately say with regard to India, sons are viewed as an asset. We will have
more to say later about the relationship between gender and population growth,
but here we may make the obvious point that if a family seeks sons it may also
have to bring into the world some "unwanted" daughters, thereby furthering the
trend towards large families. Under conditions of severe impoverishment,
attended as it has traditionally been by high childhood mortality rates, "it has
estimated for India that in order to have a 95 per cent probability of raising a
son to adulthood, the couple had to have at least six children."
     In general, direct...

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