By Smriti Rana:
The rapid rate of growth of population in India has, for a very long time now, been a cause for growing concern. Even exposing the general public to birth control measures and sex education did nothing to curb this problem. Because of these, inter alia, many people heedlessly say that India should follow China to control its population. But do they even know what that implies?
China introduced the One Child Policy in 1979 to limit its population growth. This policy asserts that no citizen living in China (apart from a few extremely stringent exceptions) is to have more than one child, except a few special cases mentioned in the legislature. Coercive methods, like forced IUD insertion and sterilization along with forced late term (as late as 9 months even) abortion if the pregnancy is in violation, are meted out to make the people comply.
But recent reports of Feng Jianmei, a Chinese woman, being forced to abort her pregnancy in the 7th month and give birth to a stillborn have caused a nationwide outcry. The government, with its stronghold on the country’s media, has surprisingly allowed reports on the atrocity, as if saying aloud to its people, “This shall be the consequence if you dare”.
In light of such events, it is easy to see this policy as what it really is; a draconian law that goes against every belief we hold dear. The application of this law in a democratic country like India is well-nigh impossible, as it should be. Even if the government were to introduce such a law, no one would accede. Not me, not you, not anyone.
Okay, yes, so dramatic rise in population has been a problem for a while now, but blatant disregard for human rights and inhumane punishments for bearing children is not the solution. The One Child Policy, in my opinion, is plain exploitation of power. It is a barbarous, if easy, way out. Sure, it’s mostly effective in reducing population growth but it’s also causing big problems like gender imbalance that may ironically lead to the undoing of China as a great nation.
Controlling an issue of such gravity is not as easy as that. Snip, snap and done? Not really. So what can be done that hasn’t already? Sex education, education for women starting at the grass root level, introduction to contraceptives, family planning, everything’s been tried to no effect. But has it really been effectively put to use? More initiative needs to be taken to enforce these practices. There may be other solutions that aren’t yet obvious to us, but the One Child Policy is not one of them.
As George Leeson, a famous demographer, has said, “Historically, demographically, there have been equally challenging situations, which humankind has met and conquered and moved on. And I’m sure the case will be the same here”
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