New age baby boom

A nurse takes care of new-born infants at a hospital. REUTERS File photo

On one of the weekends, I paid a visit to an elderly couple, whom I had known since I was a kid, accompanied by my mother.

On seeing us at the porch, Aunty seemed elated and said, “Oh, I was just thinking about you.” After the customary greetings, she said, “We will be holding a get-together for family and friends next month and you must attend it without fail.”

“Oh, is it to welcome your third grandchild?” my mother exclaimed. 

I looked surprised.

“Anna (elder brother in Kannada) will be welcoming his third child soon,” my mother explained on noticing my expression.

Instead of being happy on hearing the ‘good news’, I was taken aback (but didn’t make it evident... thankfully).

This anna of mine, is a super specialist doctor, which implies that he belongs to the learned lot. He is in his late forties and has a healthy teenage daughter and a son too.

So, ideally they are ‘a perfect family of four.’

So, was there a need for the third child?

One may rightly ask, why am I bothered.

To me, most of the problems that we are facing in the world is due to the overpopulation of humans. Economists might differ and say that population growth is good for the economic growth, for the simple reason that more people implies more demand for the manufactured goods.

But my logic is simpler - Lesser people and more resources, means life is more peaceful. In contrast, if the population continues to grow with the vital resources depleting, I see the future to be full of shortcomings.

To back my argument, I would like to remind one that water was once considered to be an infinite resource but now people believe that the third World War will be fought over water. Acres and hectares of land used to be gifted by the maharajas to his subjects, absolutely free; but today around two-thirds of all litigations pending in the courts of our country are land and property litigations. 

Coming back to my anna and his happy-growing family: Anna and his wife both well educated. I am sure they know the consequences of unchecked population growth. They are both from India which with over 1.3 billion people accounts for 17.74% of the total world population as per recent estimates.

India is now the sixth largest economy in the world and is expected to surpass Britain too, however, this milestone achievement of ours gets diluted when we consider the GDP per-capita, thanks to India’s large population.

The disadvantages of high population growth are well documented in the textbooks we read in schools.

Several government schemes and campaigns are aimed at achieving a fertility rate of 2.1,  called the Replacement Rate. The government seeks to encourage people to restrict the number of kids to two per family, in order to have a stable population.

When we talk about population growth, we also need to remember that, as a country advances, death rate decreases due to developments in medical science and even with a fertility rate of 2.1 (which is considered to be ideal), the population will still continue to grow. So, in this background consider my unhappiness with regard to the ‘happy news’. Here, is a well-educated couple, having basic awareness about the conditions plaguing our country. So aren’t they supposed to heed the government’s call too?

When I read about celebrities and public figures having multiple kids, I wonder why they don’t practice what they preach. Are the family planning modules meant only for the population belonging to the lower strata? Shouldn’t the educated people be role models even in this regard?

One might say that the rich have the resources and the means to look after their children, but won’t they be setting a wrong example?

Majority of the people with no or little formal education see ‘more kids as more hands to work rather than more stomachs to feed’.

So can the rich or the educated with many kids convince them to adopt family planning? As a crude example, if Rabri Devi W/o Lalu Prasad with nine children becomes the chief minister of Bihar again, will she be able to justify the family planning schemes in the state? The answer is a ‘big no’. And coming to human desires, shouldn’t conquering them be the ultimate goal in life?

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New age baby boom

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