Millennium Post

Curb population to restore dignity

While the myths of India’s ‘demographic dividend’, the stories of its youthful population and enormous human resource, do the usual rounds in the global media and think tank circuits, the country languishes under extremes of inequality and poverty. Though policy-makers boast that by the end of the current decade, the average age of an Indian would be about 29, with 50 per cent of its population under 30, as compared to 45 in western Europe and 37 in America and China, why is it that over 60 per cent of the Indian youth tend to be rural and urban immigrants, with little access to the fruits of India’s enviable growth story? Naturally, while we talk about population control, we see it as the means to lessen the burden on the national exchequer, but not as a method to achieve more equitable distribution of our revenues and resources to enable a life of dignity and happiness for all. Our arguments to curb the exploding population, which is poised to overtake China within a few decades, remain squarely within the obsolete parameters of economic growth and the GNP, instead of focusing on the individual benefits that the citizens, both young and old, could possibly receive with a smaller number of mouths to feed.

Unfortunately, our national and state level policies are hardly geared to confront the ugly realities of our demographic dividend. Instead of being an asset, the gigantic mass of youths could equally become a nebulous callous of underfed, undereducated, unskilled set, with little means to achieve a better life. In fact, the vicious poverty trap further ensures that the poor end up having more children thinking that would increase the number of earning hands in years to come. However, by then the job market undergoes tectonic shifts, leaving the poorer masses without the requite skills or education to acquire employability beyond the lowly paid daily wage jobs involving rigorous physical labour. Evidently, population control is much more than bringing down the teeming multitude; it’s also about raising the youth’s potential and lessening the income gap for a more equitable future.
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