Recently, Baba Ramdev said that we need to implement the third-child policy and the population of India should not cross over 150 crores in the next 50 years as we are not prepared for handling more than that. We have been discussing, the two child rule for quite some time. India is known to the world as the largest democracy with a population of over 1.2 billion people which is yet growing. This statement made the policy sit in headlines once again. A lot of people do believe that we need to implement this policy in India because it will curb our population growth rate and solve the core menace that is holding back our development, well I don’t think so, well before you know why? Let us understand what this policy actually about.
WHAT IS THE POLICY ABOUT?
The ‘third-child policy’ is actually the ‘small family norm’ that was suggested by the Central Government since the 1970s. Small family tag is given to a family with two children, husband and wife, the famous “hum do humare do”. Around nine states adopted it then but some of them revoked it. Currently, the two-child norm remains active in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan.
This policy aims to refrain people from having a third-child by restricting access to certain services. People with more than two children will not be allowed to –
- Contest elections to local self-government, that is from gram panchayat to municipal corporations.
- Apply to govt jobs and those already in may be dismissed.
- Farmers with more than two children have to pay higher water tax.
- The third child may lose access to certain free govt services, like education, healthcare, which the other two kids may get.
- The family may lose the right to access certain governments schemes.
In short, they will be deprived of certain public resources if they do not adhere to the small family norm. These may be very frugal for a self-sustainable middle-class family but at the lower levels, some of these serve as daily necessities and survival kits.
Some countries have gone a step further with laws in some states that create disincentives, that include refusal of government rights for the third or higher children, denying health care for mothers and children, denying nutritional supplements for women pregnant with their third or higher child, jail and fines for fathers, a general decrease in social services for large families, and restrictions on government position appointment and promotion.
But why is it that people have not yet accepted the policy in full swing when the majority has accepted that the major problem we have is a scarcity of resources and having lesser children could always solve this. The number of children we have can be somewhat because we live in a patriarchal society and people consider a family complete when there is a son to carry their name forward. Societal pressure stemming from our traditional lifestyle has a major role in the life we live today and that is one of the major reason that I’d say we will face a major drawback that this scheme brings.
China is well known for having implemented a one-child policy in 1979. While the policy was effective in stemming population growth, critics argue that the side effects of the policy have created many societal problems in China today. There are already well-documented problems with China’s one-child policy, namely the gender imbalance resulting from a strong preference for boys and millions of undocumented children who were born to parents that already had their one child, which is the condition in India as well.
Not only this but as I earlier said we adhere to the traditional ways of life and hence we have been taught to take care of our parents when they grow old. These values are the pillars on which our institution of the family stands.
By interfering with the birth rate, India faces a future with severe negative population growth, a serious problem that most developed countries are trying to reverse. With negative population growth, the number of old people receiving social services is larger than the young tax base that is paying for social services. In this case, taxes must be increased and young people risk contributing way more than they will receive in the future.
In China, this problem is known as the 4-2-1 problem (four grandparents, two parents and one child). The 4-2-1 problem places a heavy burden on the child to support his parents and grandparents both directly and indirectly. That is we will have a lesser earning population if we try to interfere with the growth rate.
THE PROBLEM THAT IS NOT A PROBLEM:
Now, we come to the main part as to why id say that we don’t need the two child policy? The problem of overpopulation is not about how much population we have, but we have a used less population and an uneven distribution of resources. Overpopulation refers to having children you cannot care for. An educated wealthy person can have five children if he is in a position to take good care of them. Now, you’d say that we have a whole lot of population to care for and its because of them that most of our population is below the adequate standard of living, so what do we do? I’m glad you asked!
The problem is not of quantity but of quality. Sure we need to have a system for regularisation of birth, but we cannot fit everyone into a single box or else we won’t be able to improve the quality of our human resource than some countries actually import from us. We need to have a structure of facilities that every child should get and if and only if a parent is able to provide for those they can have a child. if we have this system according to the income and resources available to the parents then the system shall become more feasible. also early childcare includes love and affection which shall not be obtained in a household where there are many children and both parents are working hard to make ends meet.
A lot of our government subsidies and schemes are availed by children whose parents could afford the facility even without the subsidies. They avail them to have a cheaper alternative but a lot of children miss out on them because they cannot afford them without the support of a subsidy.
For example, something as basic as a fee, a lot of parents apply for fee waivers for girls when they can afford to send them to school by paying the entire fee, this increases the burden on the government and hence not everyone receives the education that they should, because even if you are not paying for it, the government is and there is a limit to how much it can pay for.
Imagine having a tub full of sand and having only one glass of water, the bigger grains are on top and the smaller ones remain at the bottom. As we have only one glass of water the grains at the top absorb all the water and the grains at the bottom still remain dry. So if like good samaritans we give up readily on such schemes at least the ones which we can afford for it will help reach into the deep nooks where the sand is dry.
Still, the problem of growth remains, economists, suggest that the trend that India is showing in economics currently predicts that the population growth will naturally slow down as a country grows richer it becomes more educated.
Hence, the three-child policy cannot be implemented without hampering and compromising our social institutions, we should focus on the bigger picture and accept that we have a large population and it can definitely be used to have a larger resource.
More the people, more the mouths to feed
and more brains to run and twice the amount of hands to work.