Wednesday July 30 2014

What some populous countries did

By Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa

India, which is the second populous country (1.21 billion) after China (1.35 billion) is projected to have her population surpass that of the latter by 2030, and there are no other countries likely to ever rival this status.
Every year, India adds more people than any other nation in the world, and in fact the individual population of some of its states is equal to the total population of many countries. In 1952, this Asian country became the first country to introduce the national population policy and also launched the family programmes. Since 1931, India has nearly quadrupled in size from 279 million people to well over a billion and currently represents 15 per cent of the world’s population
The family planning programme yielded some noticeable results, bringing down significantly the country’s fertility rate. In 1965-2009, the contraceptive usage more than tripled and the fertility rate more than halved. The efforts did produce positive results, however, failed to achieve the ultimate goal and the population of India has since 1947 increased almost three times. For example ,the family planning clinics which were built in hopes that people would utilise them, failed as parents had no incentives to attend these clinics .In the 1970’s, a more focused effort in form of a law was introduced and younger girls were allowed to carry out legal abortions. By 1976, Dr Karan Singh, a member of India’s Upper House of Parliament, helped introduce a minimum age for marriage, and encouraged education of women and research on contraception and reproductive biology. A National Commission on Population has been put in place in order to address issues such as contraception, health care infrastructure, and reproductive health care. The long term objective of this commission is to have an economically sustainable population by 2045.
A couple of years ago, the government announced that it would also increase its promotion and availability of contraception for birth spacing. The current national policy encompasses information learned over the past 50 years about incentives to keep family size low. Human rights and equal treatment under the law are being emphasised more so than ever, making family planning participatory. The plan also focuses on reducing HIV/Aids, a rampant problem in India, which is second only to South Africa in percentage of citizens afflicted with the disease. While India struggles with pioneering population policy, the overall population growth rate has decreased, indicating that India’s plans are seeing some success.

Introduced in 1979, China’s one-child policy was late last year relaxed to allow people mostly in those in urban areas produce at least two children. In China’s rural areas, people have over the years been free to produce two children. The policy had successfully helped curb population growth but also had created a host of other problems, from an aging population to an epidemic of risky sex-selective abortions. The social and psychological consequences for a generation of children growing up without siblings have also been raised as a big issue. Chinese people born under the one-child policy are said to be selfish and anti-social unlike Chinese children or adults who have siblings.
Allowing couples to have more children is projected to boost consumption for goods like infant formula, food and clothing, and education services, helping the country shift its export-driven economy further towards consumption-led growth. Bank of America estimates that the change will lead to about 9.5 million new births a year. Since Chinese people culturally prefer boys than girls, the one-child policy had forced many to use various ways to avoid having a daughter, including abortions of female foetuses. This means, many more boys than girls have been born in the last three decades. In 2004 alone, the highest year on record, 121.2 boys were born for every 100 girls. As a result, by 2020, there will be between 30 million and 35 million more Chinese men of marrying age than women. Some demographers argue that removing the one-child policy won’t change the cultural preferences, but may ease the pressure on parents if their first child is a girl.