| by N.S.Venkataramn

( September 7, 2014, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been speaking on several subjects of great national importance, many of them reflecting the ground realities in India. However, one subject that he appears to be avoiding is the issue of impending population explosion due to the uncontrolled increase in births.

It is reported that around 70,000 children are born in India every day as against around 43,000 in China and around 3.70 lakhs in the world. This means that India is contributing to around 18% in the world growth of population every day. With China competently controlling the population growth, India is likely to emerge as the most populated country in the world before long. This should be a matter of high concern.

While some states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu have checked the growth of population to some extent, there are other states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar , Rajasthan which are recording alarming growth in population , perhaps due to lack of awareness amongst the people about the perils of population explosion and inadequate efforts of the government to implement population control measures.

Population issue was stressed as one of the grave problems facing the country a few decades back. However, after Sanjay Gandhi’s crude experiments in controlling population growth in 1960s and adverse public reaction , in the post emergency era , political parties have stopped talking about this grave issue for all practical purposes. . There appears to be a view amongst the political parties that any move to control population growth would affect their vote banks and electoral prospects. As a result, today there is no visible and worthwhile campaign to persuade people to control family size. On the other hand, what we really see is the campaign to control AIDS and promote sex education, which cannot be a substitute for conducting massive campaign against population growth.

In spite of whatever increase in food production and growth of economy that have taken place in India in the last few decades, around 30 % of the population ,( more than 300 million people) are still reported to be living below poverty line and not knowing as to from where the next meal would come. With the national population increasing at the level of around more than 25 million every year, the feasibility of reducing the poverty level in India and its intensity would become extremely difficult to achieve , even with the GDP growth of 7% per annum.

It is surprising that Mr. Narendra Modi has not thought it necessary to ask the people to restrict the family size . It would be strange that if Mr. Modi would not realise the importance of population control, which is unlikely. In such case, one has to suspect that he thinks that it would be politically inconvenient for him to talk about population control measures in India today.

One hopes that the Prime Minister would , without further loss of time , realise the importance of this grave population issue and stress the need for it at the state and national level. Some sort of incentive schemes to the people , particularly belonging to the lower income group who do not give birth to more than two children , can be considered. Even some punitive measures to prevent too many children in individual families in future can be examined , after building appropriate public opinion in favour of this measure.