India’s population policy: Myths and reality – Cover Story News

When Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath selected the event of World Population Day on July 11 to announce a brand new state population coverage, there usually ought to have been no quarrel about it. After all, the state is India’s most populous, harbouring practically 200 million individuals (as per Census 2011) or 17 per cent of India’s population. If it had been to change into a nation, Uttar Pradesh would have the fifth largest population on the planet.

So as an alternative of welcoming a coverage to manage the state’s burgeoning population, why was there such a storm over Yogi’s announcement? Sure, a few of the contraception measures are coercive. While pushing for a two-little one coverage per couple, the state plans to introduce each incentives and disincentives to make sure its implementation. In phrases of incentives, authorities servants adopting the 2-little one norms would get two extra increments throughout their service other than being eligible for maternity or paternity depart for 12 months with full wage and a 3 per cent improve within the employment contribution fund. As regards disincentives for these discovered exceeding the norm, they’d be debarred from contesting native our bodies polls, is not going to be eligible for presidency jobs, can be denied a promotion if in service and is not going to obtain any type of subsidies.

The invoice is but to be handed, and it’s nonetheless not clear what closing type it could take. But lots of the measures aren’t any completely different from what 12 different states have enacted previously. These states have barred individuals with three kids from contesting civic polls other than different disincentives. In Maharashtra, those that have greater than two kids aren’t solely debarred from authorities jobs however are additionally denied advantages of presidency welfare schemes.

What appears to have precipitated the furore in UP is the timing of the announcement, coming because it did with state elections simply eight months away. A controversial assertion by the chief minister whereas releasing the draft coverage—that it’s going to not solely assist scale back fertility ranges within the state, but in addition guarantee “a population balance among various communities”—didn’t assist issues. The authorities staunchly denied focusing on of any specific neighborhood and, to be honest to Adityanath, the invoice doesn’t appear to distinguish between spiritual communities or caste denominations. But opposition events instantly noticed it as a canine-whistle, elevating the bogey of Muslims in the future outnumbering Hindus to polarise the vote earlier than the meeting election.

“Significantly, the decline in decadal growth rates has been sharper among Muslims than among Hindus over the past three decades”

– Poonam Muttreja, Executive director, Population Foundation of India

Population management has at all times been a sizzling potato after the notorious pressured sterilisation marketing campaign of the Emergency; it was among the many major causes the Congress authorities led by Indira Gandhi misplaced the 1977 basic election. The brouhaha over UP’s announcement raised recent questions on India’s population progress and its insurance policies. Among them: is the Muslim population rising extra quickly than the Hindus, and might it pose a menace to the latter? Is India nonetheless dealing with a population explosion and will coercive strategies like these proposed by UP be efficient in controlling the numbers? Are the issues that India will lose its demographic benefit—by way of a younger population for reasonable labour—if it purses a rigorous population management coverage legitimate? Each of those questions have many myths related to them that want a reality test.

Is the Muslim population rising too quickly and will it pose a menace to the bulk neighborhood in future?

Though Yogi Adityanath didn’t title any particular neighborhood or spiritual group, his critics had been in little doubt who the goal was. “This policy is pure political fingerprinting,” says Congress Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor. “They [The BJP] are trying to demonise a particular community. We have seen this in Assam where they are concerned about certain migrant Bengali Muslims. In UP, we know what Aditya­nath and his henchmen are doing.” UP’s population invoice obtained flak even from proper-wing Hindu teams. The VHP (Vishva Hindu Parishad) has warned the state authorities that any population management measure ought to have in mind the truth that Hindu dominance should stay intact within the nation.

So what’s the reality? The details converse for themselves. At over 38 million individuals, in accordance with the 2011 census, UP is dwelling to the very best variety of Muslims within the nation. But the neighborhood nonetheless accounts for lower than 20 per cent of the state’s population. Right-wing Hindu teams have typically highlighted the distinction between the expansion charges of Hindus and Muslims within the state. Between 2001 and 2011, Hindus grew at 2 % yearly whereas Muslims grew at 2.5 per cent. But the Population Foundation of India (PFI) factors out that whereas the Hindu progress price declined by 5.6 proportion factors over the last two census (2001 and 2011), for Muslims, the decline was even quicker, 6.1 proportion factors for a similar interval.

What about nationwide figures? Encouragingly, there was a major drop in delivery charges amongst all spiritual teams, together with Muslims. Population Foundation of India’s government director Poonam Muttreja says, “Significantly, the decline in decadal growth rates has been sharper among Muslims than among Hindus over the past three decades.” PFI calculations present that the decline in decadal progress charges throughout 2001 and 2011 for Muslims was 4.7 per cent compared to Hindus which was 3.1 per cent in the identical interval. The decline in population progress charges for Jains (20.5 per cent), Buddhists (16.7 per cent), Sikhs (8.5 per cent) and Christians (7 per cent) was much more steep throughout the identical interval.

Graphics by Tanmoy Chakraborty

Sceptics dispute these findings and level out that nationally, between 2001 and 2011, the Muslim population progress of two.46 per cent yearly was a lot quicker than the determine for Hindus of 1.67 per cent, which was decrease than the nationwide common of 1.77 per cent). The counter argument is that it has not made a major shift in population share. The share of Hindus within the whole population got here down marginally from 80.5 per cent in 2001 to 79.8 per cent in 2011—a decline of 0.7 per cent. While the share of the Muslim population, which in 2001 was 13.4 per cent, went up marginally in 2011 to 14.2 per cent, a 0.8 per cent improve. In phrases of absolute numbers, PFI figures reveal that the Hindu population elevated by 139 million throughout 2001-11, whereas the Muslim population elevated by 34 million. A far cry from the visions of Muslim demographic domination being peddled to mobilise Hindus.

Such rhetoric additionally ignores cultural and geographical specificities, and the extent of improvement, that are extra vital determinants than faith of what number of kids a lady could have. The state-clever knowledge of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2015-16 exhibits that the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of various spiritual communities have larger variation between states than between communities. For occasion, although the all-India TFR is 2.6 for Muslims in comparison with 2.1 for Hindus, the speed varies broadly from 1.7 in Tamil Nadu to 4.1 in Bihar. In Chhattisgarh, the Muslim TFR of two.1 was decrease than the two.2 TFR for Hindus, whereas Muslims in Odisha had the bottom TFR among the many three sizeable spiritual teams within the state—Hindus, Christians and Muslims.

More importantly, the TFR amongst Muslims has been dropping at a quicker price, narrowing the hole with Hindus. In 1992-93, the National Family Health Survey stated that TFR for Hindus and Muslims was 3.3 and 4.4 respectively. In 2015-16, the corresponding numbers had been 2.1 and 2.6. “Fertility differentials exist by residence, region, education, wealth index and socioreligious groups,” says Dr Sayeed Unisa, head of the division of mathematical demography & statistics, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai. “Both the Hindu and Muslim communities have large sections of the socioeconomically most backward population with high fertility.”

Other specialists, nonetheless, warning that the fertility hole between Muslims and Hindus in large states equivalent to UP, Bihar and Assam stays some extent of concern regardless of the decline. In Assam, for example, 2011 noticed the sharpest rise in Muslim population amongst all states as their share of the full population jumped by 3.3 proportion factors—from 30.9 per cent to 34.2 per cent. Since 1991, the annual progress price of Muslims within the state has been round 3 per cent whereas the Hindu population progress price —simply over 1 per cent—has seen a marginal dip. Though it has dropped from a excessive of three.6 in 2005-06, at 2.4 kids per girl, the fertility price amongst Muslims in Assam remains to be the second-highest amongst all states in India in 2019-20. Overall, whereas the fears of Muslims overtaking the Hindu population are far-fetched, in some states there must be larger consciousness created to make sure a uniform decline in population progress.

Is India nonetheless within the midst of a ‘population explosion’?

The votaries of population management bought an enormous increase instantly after Narendra Modi returned to energy in May 2019. During his Independence Day speech that yr, the prime minister raised issues over India’s “population explosion”, underlining the necessity for larger dialogue and consciousness on the problem. What is the reality? According to 2019 Revision of World Population Prospects by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, at its present progress price, India’s population will surpass China’s by 2027 to change into the world’s most populous nation.

“In 70 years, we have upped our population four times without adding a square centimetre of new territory,” says Manish Tewari, Congress MP. “China is just a little ahead of India but occupies 6.3 per cent of the world’s land mass, twice that of India. In other words, India should have at best stabilised its population at 700 million and kept it at that.” India occupies 2.4 per cent of the world’s land mass however helps over 18 per cent of its population. This means there’s solely 0.5 acres for each Indian in comparison with the worldwide common of 5 acres per particular person.

While most specialists agree {that a} burgeoning population locations strain on India’s assets, notably in city areas, they assert that the nation is heading in direction of population stabilisation, each with and with out the assistance of presidency-initiated population management measures. In 1952, India turned the primary nation on the planet to have a National Programme for Family Planning, which was final amended in 2000. The coverage largely revolves round selling consciousness about household planning and offering contraceptive help to {couples}. And regardless of a number of gaps in implementation, most specialists declare that it has achieved the specified TFR of two.1. The UN’s population division phrases this as alternative-degree fertility, which retains the population secure.

However, in the case of states there’s enormous disparity by way of population progress and TFR. Six states—UP, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh—account for roughly 40 per cent of India’s population, and have TFR above 2.1. According to a report by the Technical Group on Population Projections launched in 2020, practically one-fifth of the nation’s whole population improve between 2011 and 2036 could happen in UP. The different 5 states too require focussed consideration to decelerate their population progress.

Do Population Disincentives Work?

The Modi authorities is obvious that there isn’t any push to impose a two-little one norm. Ashwini Kumar Choubey, the Union MoS for well being and household welfare, stated within the Lok Sabha on July 19, “There is no such proposal under consideration at present. As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) IV data for 2015-16, the TFR has declined to 2.2 from the earlier 2.7 in NFHS-III (2005-06). Twenty-eight out of 36 states/ UTs have already achieved the replacement level fertility of 2.1 or less. Additionally, India is a signatory to the declaration at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994, and in Nairobi in 2019, which advocates the honouring of the reproductive rights of couples to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.”

Ironically, this assertion got here on reduce-off date the UP authorities had fastened for recommendations on the proposed Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilisation and Welfare) Bill, 2021. Since the Nineties, 12 different states—Odisha (1993), Haryana (1994), Andhra Pradesh (1994), Rajasthan (1994), Himachal Pradesh (2000), Madhya Pradesh (2000), Chhattisgarh (2000), Uttarakhand (2002), Maharashtra (2003), Gujarat (2005), Bihar (2007) and Assam (2017)—have experimented with some type of a two-little one coverage. Four of those states—Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, MP and Haryana—subsequently revoked the norms.

Experts have at all times questioned the efficacy of a punitive strategy to population management. According to PFI, a strict restrict on the variety of kids like the 2-little one norm will unleash a speedy improve in intercourse-particular abortions and divorce. In her 2006 guide, The Law of Two Child Norm in Panchayats, Nirmala Buch, a former chief secretary of MP, documented how the 2-little one legislation in numerous states led to an increase in intercourse-selective and unsafe abortions. Men divorced their wives to run for native physique polls and households gave up kids for adoption to keep away from disqualification.

The scenario will get compounded when such norms are launched with out factoring in socioeconomic indicators. A 2009 report supported by the panchayati raj ministry confirmed that in 21 districts in 5 states the place the 2-little one norm was operational, 54 per cent of the disqualified candidates had been both illiterate or had solely main training, 78 per cent belonged to SCs/ STs/ OBCs and practically half of them had an annual earnings of lower than Rs 20,000.

China adopted a strict one-little one coverage for greater than 30 years. According to a 2016 examine by the Institute for Population and Development Studies, Xi’an Jiaotong University, the coverage resulted in undesirable penalties like intercourse-selective abortions, depressed fertility ranges, irreversible population ageing, labour shortages and financial slowdown. Realising their folly, China deserted the one-little one norm in 2016 and is now formally encouraging a 3-little one norm.

What then is one of the best contraception methodology?

The actual situation is that whereas India has propagated contraception since 1952 as a nationwide coverage, the burden for household planning has largely been on ladies. Men in India hardly go for contraceptives equivalent to sterilisation and even condoms due to the cultural notion that contraception will not be a “masculine” factor. Only 25 per cent of married males use contraceptives as in opposition to 48 per cent of married ladies. Worse, the NFHS-4 knowledge reveals that not even half of the ladies who avail household planning counselling are knowledgeable of different choices past irreversible strategies equivalent to sterilisation.

“Even if the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) provides six different alternatives, most women aren’t informed of them,” says Debanjana Choudhuri, Asia advocacy and partnerships advisor, Foundation for Reproductive Health Services in India (FRHSI). So, of all the ladies who go for contraception, a whopping 77 per cent go for sterilisation. The concern now’s that the incentives for 2 kids will drive extra households to drive their ladies to go for sterilisation, a process that may even be dangerous to maternal well being if achieved instantly after birthing. Chaudhari factors out that sterilisation is a well-liked alternative for ladies as a result of it entails only a single go to to the clinic. For an Intra Uterine Device (IUD), one should return in 5 years for a test-up.

Data from internationally exhibits that international locations with profitable household planning programmes have very low use of sterilisation. According to Argentina Matavel Piccin, the India Representative of the UN Population Fund, the sooner deal with irreversible strategies equivalent to sterilisation to scale back fertility price has been a tough behavior to interrupt amongst healthcare suppliers. Reversible strategies are extra handy to make use of and permit delivery spacing between two kids. Irreversible strategies are for when a pair is completed childbearing completely.

Examples from international locations equivalent to Thailand and Bhutan present that offering extra decisions in contraception to ladies can assist improve contraceptive prevalence price considerably. Bhutan is a wonderful instance—the empowerment of girls helped decrease their TFR from 6.6 within the Sixties to 1.98 in 2018. “The lesson here is that when couples are offered a wide range of choices, they are more likely to use a contraceptive. Further, when couples and individuals have greater access to contraceptives early in their reproductive careers, there is a delay in the age of first childbirth and hence, a wider generation gap,” says Piccin.

Infant mortality price (IMR) additionally performs a key position in figuring out the inclination in direction of household planning. “Often more children are conceived because the chances of survival are low,” says Choudhuri. In Tamil Nadu, discount in IMR by bettering maternal diet helped decrease TFR from 2.2 in 1999 to 1.7 in 2016. The newest NFHS-5 exhibits a discount in IMR and beneath-5 mortality price in practically all of the 17 states surveyed. “It is also extremely important to space out births, mostly for the health of the mother. However, this is often not done; family planning counselling is crucial for couples planning a second child,” says Dr Manisha Singh, senior marketing consultant, gynaecology and reproductive drugs at Fortis hospital in Bannerghatta, Bengaluru.

In 2019, on the International Conference on Population and Development, India pledged to finish the unmet want for contraception by 2030, recognising the significance of girls-centric household planning insurance policies to sort out population progress. At the identical time, it’s equally vital to sensitise males in direction of contraception. Condom utilization in India stays extraordinarily low at 5.6 per cent of the population. “To reach our gender and health goals, we must focus on men and boys and encourage an open and inclusive dialogue on sexual and reproductive health,” says Dr S.Ok. Sikdar, advisor, maternal well being and household planning, MOHFW.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, an ally of the ruling BJP, has rejected coercive norms for implementing population management, saying that selling training amongst ladies is a greater plan. In India, the TFR for ladies who’ve greater than 12 years of training is 1.7, in comparison with 3.1 for the illiterate. “Experiences from all over the world convincingly illustrate that education, particularly of females, is the most important factor contributing to fertility reduction,” says Prof. T.V. Sekher of the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai, and former Fulbright-Nehru Senior Fellow at Cornell University. “Through education we empower women, and this ensures they have the ability and autonomy to take the right decisions about when and how many children they would like to have.”

“Global experiences illustrate that education, particularly of females, is the most important factor contributing to fertility reduction”

– Prof T.V. Sekher, Head of Dept, population insurance policies & programmes, International Institute of Population Sciences, Mumbai

That’s the consensus amongst specialists—as an alternative of punitive exclusionary measures, focus extra on inclusive measures equivalent to unfold of training and consciousness about household planning, making contraception straightforward and accessible, incentivising later marriages and childbirths, and selling participation of the ladies labour drive. Development stays one of the best contraceptive methodology. Short-term electoral positive aspects are the very last thing that ought to dictate any strategy to population management.

Is India in peril of shedding its demographic dividend?

With practically two-third of India’s population between 15 and 59—as revealed by the Sample Registration System’s 2018 report—India boasts of a demographic dividend of a younger population at the same time as main economies of the world battle with a declining working age population. India has extra working age individuals than every other nation on the planet. Its share of the working-age population is about to nearly peak by the tip of this decade—from 55.8 per cent now to 58.8 per cent in 2031.

The 2018-19 Economic Survey says the working-age population will develop by 9.7 million per yr throughout 2021-31 and 4.2 million per yr in 2031-41. “A young demographic leads to a virtuous cycle. More people in the workforce means more people earning, investing, paying taxes, creating demand. Typically, with a young population, consumption spending is higher. It helps the fiscal situation. That is on the presumption that the macro economy is growing,” explains Ajit Ranade, president and chief economist at Aditya Birla Group.

But there are risks. As extra Indians prepare to hitch workforce, India’s labour participation price nonetheless hovers beneath 50 per cent, in sharp distinction to developed international locations. For occasion, the labour participation price within the US is 61.6 per cent, within the UK it’s 78.7 and within the EU 56.5. Most economists aver that ladies’s participation within the labour drive performs a vital position in decreasing their fertility charges. The share of girls’s participation at work in India was an abysmal 36 per cent in 2021, in comparison with 64 per cent by males. Worse, as an alternative of accelerating previously decade, it has proven indicators of declining.

Even as India struggles to discover the true potential of its demographic dividend, there’s a concern that the present deal with population management could dent the benefit sooner or later. The 2018-19 Economic Survey additionally warns that India’s population on the nationwide degree and in a number of states will start ageing considerably within the subsequent eight years. The share of the younger population (0-19 years) might drop to 25 per cent in 2041, from 41 per cent in 2011. In the identical interval, the share of the aged population (over 60 years) will double from 8 to 16 per cent. A 2016 analysis paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research confirmed {that a} 10 per cent improve within the share of the 60-plus population reduces the per capita GDP progress price by 5.5 per cent.

“With a higher proportion of working age population, what kind of work becomes crucial. Do things that will raise productivity, that will improve quality of jobs of people. You are employing such a vast population in tiny little farms”

– Arvind Panagariya, Former vice-chairman, Niti Aayog, and professor of economics, Columbia University

While the dimensions of the working-age population will decline in 11 out of twenty-two main states, it would proceed to rise in states equivalent to Bihar, UP, MP and Rajasthan. These states might meet the labour deficit in states with an ageing population. However, the problem can be to transform this ‘young population’ to employable manpower. “In Bihar, around one-third of men, and in UP, one-fifth, are illiterate. About 50 per cent men have less than secondary level education in MP and Rajasthan. Again, in UP and Bihar, two-fifths of the males do not even have secondary level education. The situation is worse for women, with around half the population illiterate in Bihar, Rajasthan and UP. At least secondary level education is required for skill development and to enter formal employment. With such depressing levels of education in the major states, we cannot gain from the demographic dividend,” says Professor Unisa.

Arvind Panagariya, former vice-chairman, Niti Aayog, and professor of economics at Columbia University, emphasises the necessity to body financial insurance policies that increase productiveness and finally high quality of jobs. That’s the place India’s file has been dismal, in nurturing human capital. Panagariya explains: “With a higher proportion of working age population, what kind of work becomes crucial. I take the view that for productivity, economic policies trump over anything. Do things that will raise productivity, that will improve quality of jobs of people. You are employing such a vast population in tiny little farms.”

The different situation is that India spends solely about 3.1 per cent of its GDP on training, whereas well being will get about 1.5 per cent of its whole spend. The US spends practically 17 per cent of its GDP on public well being and 6 per cent on training. “India remains deficient in allocations for health and education. When the population begins to age, health requirements will become more,” says D.Ok. Srivastava, coverage advisor, EY India.

“At least secondary level education is required for skill development and to enter formal jobs. With such depressing levels of education in the major states, we cannot gain from the demographic dividend”

– Dr Sayeed Unisa, Head of Dept, mathematical demography & statistics, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai

In the publish-pandemic world, as the 2 largest economies—the US and China—stand locked toe to toe, India is in a novel place to seize the booming demand and export alternative. “We can exploit the export opportunity. Our biggest driver is people. We should focus on labour intensive exports—textiles, leather, agro processing, medical tourism,” suggests Ranade. With China’s dependency ratio rising and labour changing into costlier, the time is now ripe for India to capitalise on its demography. More than coercive measures of contraception, what is required is to coach individuals, hold them wholesome and construct an enabling setting for companies to develop and rent. The secret’s placing the proper steadiness between population management and protecting the tempo of financial progress.

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