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Population Explosion - How can we tackle this problem?

It is rightly said 'The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function'. For countries like Spain, Canada and Italy, where the population is decreasing, population explosion might be considered as a boon. But for developing country like India, population explosion is nothing but a curse which is damaging the development of the country and its society. With 16% of world's population, India is the second most populated country in the world. A developing country already faces a lack in their resources and needs. And with the rapidly escalating population, the resources available per person are further plummeting, leading to increased poverty, malnutrition and other large population related problems. Therefore, predicament is much more severe here in India because of the escalating pressure on the limited resources of the country.

The rapid growth of the world's population over the past one hundred years results from a difference between the rate of birth and the rate of death. It took the entire history of humankind for the population to reach 1 billion around 1810. Today the world has a population of 6 billion and the population of India stands at about 1 billion. This only means that more people are now being added each day than at any other time in human history which poses as a major problem.

As far as India is concerned, according to statistics, as of March 2011, the total population of India was a little over 1 billion - 1,210,193,422 to be exact. The population clock in the Union Health Ministry in New Delhi now ticks at the rate of 31 persons per minute! The clock shows that about 44,640 babies are born in India every day. This gigantic growth rate is due to the industrial and technical revolutions that has taken place. The new technologies available have brought down the death rate because of the vastly improved Medicare resulting in increased life expectancies. Various cultures and norms, migration all have contributed in this regard. India is projected to overtake China as the world's most populous nation by 2030.

This increase or overpopulation now has given rise to various problems like illiteracy, unemployment, pollution and poverty. We have created an interrelated web of global environmental problems. We are destroying our natural resources and biological diversities. India is facing an intense crisis of resources. There is fierce competition for the nation's limited natural resources leading to quarrels between states, between communities and even families. The fast rate of growth of population has affected the quality of life of the people.

To check ill-effects of population growth on the socio-economic front, the Indian Government had launched the Family Planning Programme in 1951. This was later rechristened as the Family Welfare Programme. This programme promotes on a voluntary basis, responsible Planned Parenthood, through independent choice of family planning methods best suited to the people. This if properly implemented by making them rightly follow the slogan 'one couple, two children' could do wonders. But, at the same time a proper family planning would only work if women, especially in the rural ideas could be made to come out of the false notion that having many children is a boon. And for this, the requirement is to improve the literacy rate, female education and the socio-economic status of the families as population growth is directly allied to these factors. Special benefits and provisions need to be highlighted and be provided to the

people who have one child and maintain a small family. Benefits like free education, better facilities and financial support should be put forward so as to encourage nuclear families.

Therefore, I believe the need of the hour to tackle this problem of overpopulation lies in education. This can be done if one person takes into their stride of educating the other. 'Each one, teach one' should be followed and advocated. Persuasive measures need to be taken. We have seen in the past that there have been coercive measures attempted in India. In 1975- 77, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi created sterilization camps and forced vasectomies causing population-control policies to be met with strong resistance and fear, which stagnating progress significantly. More recently, the government has considered using injection birth- control methods, which have been alleged to have significant negative side effects and recall the coercive measures of the 70s.

What thus needs to ensue is support-financial and political, that must be given to promote, encourage and facilitate birth control and methods which involve people as an agent of change rather than being a source of dilemma. Around 30 million Indians want to use contraceptives, but do not have access to them; money ought to be given to provide it. Others are unaware and unwilling to discuss birth control methods, efforts must be made to promote discussion and spread knowledge of it to those who are receptive. Also, campaigns currently expound on the good of the country. Instead, media should emphasize that a small family is beneficial to an individual's own well-being rather than focusing on population control for the national good. These types of measures have been enacted in some states including Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and they have since been country's growth stability leaders. They now show high literacy rates and thus a well planned society. This has to be cultured all over India. The philosophy must be to have the people be an active participant in the country's problem. If the people understand that and want to help, then the problem disappears because there is no one left to cause it.

Gandhi advocated that it is easier to practice self control than control by contraceptives. Multiplicity of wants would multiply problems in multiple folds. Thus, to tackle the problem, rather than following stringent rules and regulations, a change of mindset would help more through the involvement of education, advertisement and campaigns ensuring for a developed and a healthy India. Therefore, all we need is to shift the mindsets from "Population Control" to "Population Development". Development of people through right education and healthcare can solve much issues-even population, assuming it is a problem!

Lastly, it can be concluded by saying that with so many of us on a very small planet, and with the addition of so many more every week, we can no longer persist to relate to each other, or our environment, ecological systems and biosphere like we have, as we will succumb to the effects of human overpopulation. Mother Nature, which could not care less, will eliminate us. We humans must grow up and learn to walk, hand in hand with each other and with our natural world. There is no alternative if we yearn to sustain humanity and advance our civilization.

- Shreyosi Pal