Overpopulation of India
Overpopulation in India is a very serious problem, and the government has attempted to enact policies to control the population. While this overpopulation may be stated as the "most profound symbol" of powerless women, it may also be considered overemphasized. It is true that the high population is related to the poor status of women, but this is again overemphasized by the feminist point of view. The exercise of reproductive rights are linked to the exercise of other rights. India has been fighting this growing problem for many years, yet nothing has made a tremendous impact. Therefore, alternative ways must be found to address this problem.
The government has tried many different methods to reduce the population growth, with the latest being called the "Eight Plan". In this plan, the population growth is listed as 6th, in order of importance, to the national government. In this plan, the central government has specified demographic targets of birth control. They have set up the percentage of people whom should undergo contraception. Since there are no statutes allowing the government to force contraception upon the population, certain incentives have been offered to promote family planning. There are community incentives, as well as cash incentives. For communities that exceed in the guidelines proposed by the Eight Plan, they are to be given priority to the construction of roads, schools and drinking water facilities. Cash incentives are for the individuals whom endure the sterilization process. Another type of "incentive" is still pending on proposed amendment #79, stating that having more than two children disqualifies any person to the national Parliament and state legislatures. In all attempts to reduce the population growth, the government tries to make the population aware of this problem, through all clinics, hospitals and medical personnel.(Center)
Elisabeth Bumiller stated that overpopulation is the "most profound symbol" of the powerlessness of India’s women. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however, I must disagree with her. I agree that women in India should have an equal status as men, but I was not raised in their culture. I believe the "most profound symbol" is bride-burning and not the population problem. Overpopulation is closely related to women’s poor status, and with improved status comes more population control. This is proven best by looking at the different states, especially Kerala which has the highest literacy rate and the best record of population control in India. In following this example, education is the best form of population control, and should be promoted. Lack of women’s education and lower place in society is a major factor in the population. This is caused by the mind set that the woman must bear a son, and humbly follow her husbands every word to be recognized. This is not the case, with widespread education, the mind set can change and the woman can make decisions on how many children she has and be involved to help make the country and world a better place. Education will also help the women understand the use and need for birth control.Bumiller also showed disdain for "sex-selective abortions." While this is a harsh solution, and also technically breaking Indian law, (Center) it actually does have some favorable points. Sex-selective abortions are actually only terrible for the female fetus and overzealous human activists. Unable to speak for the rest of the world, and being officially outlawed, however, I find it logical and not such a bad thing, if you are able to put yourself in the shoes of the families. First of all, on a more individual level, it saves the girl from a hard life of low status, as even an Indian doctor said in Bumiller’s book. Secondly, it saves the family from one more mouth to feed for poor families. This may also help the parents, disregarding the social demotion, by allowing them to have a son that will help their income in old age. They do not have a social security system, so they must rely on their male offspring to provide for them when they are no longer able to work. For the wealthy families, social embarrassment is a devastating reality which shouldn’t be overlooked since an unwanted child will suffer. Also, if this was became a large "problem" then the male/female ratios would be skewed, but in reality their inverse ratios are only .3% different from that of the United States. In other words the U.S.’s male/female ratio is 48.7%/51.3%, while India’s is 51.6%/48.4%. (United) Another favorable way of looking at it is that with less females being born then the population growth is reduced exponentially. One very extreme viewpoint is that if the male/female ratio became terribly skewed, then the less women, then the more they would be prized and therefore their status would take a tremendous leap.
Reproductive rights are as important as other rights, and are linked together. All rights of women are scoffed upon because of their lower station. Bumiller brought up one very important detail about the feminist movement against "female feticide", which should be broadened to help the population growth problem, and women’s rights in general. That detail being on page 119 of her book, about articles 14 and 15 in the Indian constitution which outlaws discrimination against women.(Bumiller 119) If the government wants to curb this baby boom, then they must realize how connected it is to women’s status, therefore, they should strictly enforce the anti-discrimination law and raise women’s status to that of men. Enforcing these laws may be very difficult, but are essential in raising the station of women and defeating the population growth.
Overpopulation is an international problem, not one just related to India or Nigeria. According to the United Nations 1992 world population projection, the world’s population will double in just over 50 years. According to a world population website, linked to the Census Bureau, the world’s population is growing at over 82 people per 30 seconds.(Sunsite) Overpopulation is not as simple as just being overcrowded, it actually means that there is not enough land to support that many people. In this light, by allowing the population to grow at such a tremendous speed, we are running ourselves toward total destruction. Therefore, we must take measures to ensure we never reach that line, or at least slow down the process until alternative ways to prevent overpopulation can be found.
Bumiller, Elisabeth. May you be the mother of a hundred sons. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1990
Center for Reproductive Law & Policy, Inc. 1995 http://www.echonyc.com/~jmkm/wotw/
United Nations Population Division. 1994 gopher://gopher.undp.org:70/00/ungophers/ popin/wdtrends/pop1994
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