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Sunday, February 12, 2006 

One CHild Policy for India? --- Naaah!

The other day, I was involved in a debate over the one child norm in India. There has been talk of population explosion, especially now that India is set to overtake China in terms of population in the near future. But seriously, is enforcing the “One child norm” any solution? And isn’t treating population as a problem a passé?

We seem to be getting out of the mindset that a huge population eats into our resources. Rather we have just started treating our population as a resource. It is the size of our population that makes India so dear to the world as a market (thus allowing us to arm-twist developed nations into conceding in return for opening our markets), as well as ensures that India remains the world’s back-office by providing low-cost employees.

The One child norm hasn’t helped China as well. Today one sees an aging population in China, which is a cause of concern, as more and more people slip from a working age to retirement, thus acting as a burden. There are fewer recruits available to the Chinese army.

Another problem lies with the implementation. We started with Do ya teen bachche followed by Hum Do Humaare Do. That we need one child policy now implies that the earlier two couldn’t be implemented so as to get the desired result. What guarantee is it that the one child norm will work?

On a personal note, the reason for my opposition to the “One child” norm implementation is that its success would deprive children of the joy (and the pain) of having a sibling. I have shared a khatti-meeethi relationship with my sister. Having a sibling teaches one to share, give us a friend we can always rely on, and learn a lot from having some one around all the time. In addition, especially in the Indian context, wouldn’t the One Child norm spell the death of festivals like Rakshabandhan and Bhau beej?


The way I see it, implementation of the One Child norm in India seems like a waste of resources. The best family planning method that has shown that it can work is Education. Rather than change the family planning policy every decade, we would do much better if the same money is spent on education.

I agree with the point that one-child norm would remove the joy of childhood. However, the problem is the population increase is not from the educated middle class, but from illiterate lower class. While higher education in Kerala and Tamilnadu reduced the population growth considerably, there are states like Bihar and UP which are continually growing.

The problem with this growth is, more people are getting in, where there are minimal oppurtunities (like Bihar or North-east) and this would lead to vicious poverty. The increase in family sizes of poor class would continue the chronic chain of illiteracy. Thus, the govt. one-child norm is mainly directed to wards the lower class (in the hope that they will atleast consider reducing the family size) and the educated class anyway dont have more than 2 children.

Hi! I think we are at the point where we have to implementa one or two child norm with heavy penalties on those who have three children and those who commite female foeticide.
As Balaji pointed out there is stark poverty, lack of sanitation and access to clean drinking water among the illiterate masses especialy in the Hindi-belt.
Free education for every single girl child from Class VI to XII in all boards of education would also be good move. This no time for sentiment on the value of having a sibling.

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