Courtesy: John Basho Pou
The Supreme Court’s ruling bearing people having more than two children entry into Panchayats and Zilla parishads in Haryana very recently has brought alive the Govt. population slogan of the 70s and 80s ‘Hum Do Hamare Do‘ and called the attention of the Elected Representatives to set an example for the commoners. And other states like Rajasthan, Maharasthra and Madhya Pradesh have already brought legislation on the two-child norm. Some states are also offering incentives for promotion of two-child norm as a measure of achieving population stabilisation.
Since the socio-economic development of India has been hindered by ever-increasing population i.e. 1,027 millions of people as per the 2001 census. The Central Govt. has been trying to stabilise the population growth, despite stiff opposition faced from various politicians ,National Human Rights Commission and women organization etc.
Is this population norm relevant to our society where a large sized family is traditionally or religiously considered as a pride of a family and gift of God? Is the policy trying to deprive us of our right to privacy, family pride and confidentiality by interfering our private family domain? Possibly, our response to central population norm would probably be: “Every citizen has the right to choose the number of children he or she has. Therefore elected representatives are not different. Children or no children, the only condition imposed on elected leaders should be to deliver on Poll promises. We determine our family size based on our own needs, not because of the number of children anyone else has.”
Obviously it is to some extent. But we also need to take a closer look at those problems created by our over-sized family or community. No one can deny the fact that our society is rife with problems and backwardness of every kind and most of these are contributed to, in one way or the other, by the average large- sized families. Parents are unable to provide a proper care to every child. Hence child growth, development and nutrition are hampered, health problems like infectious diseases are plentiful. The problem of poverty with its ever-branching evils, the burden of unemployment , sub standard quality of life, lack of quality education, etc. are all stemmed from it. Quality education for every child becomes a far cry for many, resulting in unemployment, frustration, drug abuse , wrong career moves etc.
We cannot shy away from the factual revelation that size of a family in our society today is not smaller than our forefather’s. It’s because of illiteracy, traditions, customs and wrong notions among the parents. Many are still unaware while several others are misguided about the practice of the small sized family. Sons are still preferred and considered a must in a family. Many parent are ridden with the strong belief that children are God’s gifts and therefore preventing their births is equated to murder or a sin. Yes. Procreation is God’s greatest blessing upon men and children are definitely one of the best gifts of God. Now keeping the truth in mind, let us remember that God has endowed men with the mind and intellect to think, the will to choose and the wish to lead a healthy, good and wholesome life while on earth. Of course terminating a life already in existence is akin to murder. So I feel it is more sinning for parents whose children (God’s gifts) are being deprived of healthy and wholesome happy life and succumbed to all kind of diseases than when some births are prevented or avoided and lead a small happy family.
World Health Organisation (WHO) defined ‘the Family Walfare Programmes’ as “a way of thinking and living that is adopted voluntarily upon the basic of knowledge, attitude and responsible decision by individuals and couples , in order to produce the health and welfare of the family group and then contribute effectively to the social development of a community or a country”. Certain objectives of family planning are:
- Avoid unwanted births.
- Bring about wanted births.
- Regulate the intervals between pregnancies.
- Control the time at which births occur in the age of the parents and
- Determine the number of children in a family.
Thus we see that family planning is not synonymous with birth control of sterilization as misunderstood by many. It is rather a comprehensive effort at attaining a better quality of life by adopting a small- family norm. Family panning has emerged focus of international concern, as basic human right and a component of family health and social welfare. We have running behind for too long. Let us catch up and start to run with the rest of the world. After all ‘a small family is a happy family’.