The Guardian,UK. had a suggestion for the battle against climate change“Want to fight climate change.Have fewer children .”
This was known already & yet, since this has been extensively researched in a scientific fashion, this makes for a few headlines. And yet, will it make us, the humans ( ? ! ) any wiser ? Highly doubtful..Weare depleting natural resources at a faster pace than the speed with which they are being produced.And as population rises, because of copulating endlessly, extinction seems very near !
We have got better at medical management. This means, that our average life spans have been rising, even in poor countries. Neo natal mortality rates have been falling worldwide. And yet, there are miles to travel, before population growth can stabilise. Many of us humans think, that we are God’s gift to the world. So , we insist, on giving birth to mini versions of ourselves who transform into monsters like us, too soon & how ! And then, burden the earth further. The cumulative effect of so many of our follies is making it nearly impossible for other living things to simply exist. In fact, the term rakshas or demons was coined for humans only. It appears to be so, as humans have no control whatsoever, on their greed to use up or rather waste each & every bounty of nature. This leaves the plants & animals helpless. That’s why , we have floods, famines , etal. Wild animals come roaming around in urban & rural areas Our actions of usurping all habitats for our selfish wants rather than needs, has led to this sorry state of affairs.
And yet, we seem remotely interested in population control.Men particularly, Indian men , are notorious for avoiding any device or method to rein in their raging libidos ! Because, they feel that adopting family planning methods ( temporary or permanent ) will reduce their virility.Though come to think of it, women in India would be much safer, if that indeed would have been the case. Women are forced to bear the burden of adopting temporary & permanent methods of planning families. This reinforces, that the power to impregnate, without responsibility is an inherent, innate & inborn tendency of men. And this is on display, as rapes of females of all ages, have been in the news, almost on a daily basis !
Many Indian women seem to opt for sterilization as the only family planning method. Nearly 68 % of 45 million women do not use any method of contraception. The rest, use traditional methods which are highly unpredictable.Though , many contaceptive methods are being added to increase choice, the switch has been slow.
In India , population growth seems to be slowing down. Despite this, India will get more populous than China by 2024. Progress has been extremely sluggish as family planning is like the holy cow especially with the present regime ( pun intended) because of forced sterlisations during the Emergency.
It has been stated, that seven million girls die every decade in India. This is because, many times, the girl is killed in the womb itself .By some luck, if the girl child survives, she is neglected so much ,that she dies in the first five years.Sex ratios in India have been falling in every State, in India, exceptKerela& Meghalaya. The discrimination is so rampant, that the second female child in a family is rare.
Educating girls & women has helped in slowing down population. This is true even for states like Bihar & Uttar Pradesh. In Uttar Pradesh, a rise of 16 % in female literacy has reduced fertility rate by 1.1 over aten year period from 2005-2006 to 2015-16. Bihar has fared less better& yet, it shows that education is the key. Female literacy rose by 12% & consequently, fertility rate went down by 0.6.So girls need to be made literate so that they have control over their bodies & health. And this will transform into even lower fertility rates. All this, would lead to stablising of population.And even sex education needs to be imparted to prevent unwanted pregnancies ,etc.
Al Gore puts it so succintly,”Population growth is straining the earth’s resources to the breaking point , & educating girls is the single most important factor in stabilising that.That, plus helping women gain political & economic power & safeguarding their reproductive rights.”
Vasudha Rao is a law graduate from Government Law College,Mumbai and a Fellow in General Insurance ( technical qualification for insurance ) .