Calls for a ‘one-child policy’ in India are misguided at best, and dangerous at worst

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

India will surpass China as the country with the world’s largest population in 2023, according to the United Nations World Population Prospects 2022 report.

The UN also projects the has reached eight billion as of Tuesday.

As early as March 2022, reports circulated on Chinese social media that India’s population had already surpassed China’s, though this was later dispelled by experts.

Women in India today are having fewer than their mothers had. But despite a lower fertility rate, the country’s population is still growing.

The idea the country should adopt something like China’s former “one-child ” has been moving from the fringe to the political mainstream.

But the notion that India should emulate China’s past population policies is misguided at best, and dangerous at worst.

Both countries are struggling with the legacy of harsh population policies, and stricter population controls in India could have disastrous consequences for women and minority communities.

Given Australia’s growing ties to India, it should be concerned about what population policy could mean for the erosion of democratic norms in India.

Unintended consequences

India implemented the world’s first national family planning program in 1952. The birthrate began to drop, but only gradually, and family sizes remained stubbornly high. The government then implemented widespread forced sterilization particularly of Muslims and the urban poor, especially during “The Emergency” years of 1975-77.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, infant mortality dropped significantly. Between 1950 and 1980, China’s population almost doubled. The “one-child policy”—limiting births per couple through coercive measures—was implemented in the early 1980s, and fertility dropped dramatically.

In both India and China, these population policies had unintended consequences.

In China, the government found that once dropped, they were faced with an aging population. Even after relaxing control policies to allow all couples to have two children in 2015, and three children in 2021, birth rates remain low, particularly among the urban middle class favored by the government.

In both countries, skewed caused by sex selective abortions have led to a range of social problems, including forced marriages and human trafficking.

China has found that despite reversing course, it cannot undo this rapid demographic transition. Urban, middle-class couples face mounting financial pressure, including the cost of raising children and of caring for the elderly. While the government has encouraged “high quality” urban women to give birth, rural and minority women are still discouraged from having more children.

As in China, in some states in India, women’s education and their aspirations for their children have contributed to lower birth rates. Like China, these states now face an aging population. Birth rates in other states with high Muslim populations have also declined, but at a slower rate.

Unfair impact

Despite declining , some politicians have advocated for the adoption of something like China’s former one-child policy in with large Muslim populations. These calls have less to do with demographic reality, and more to do with majoritarian Hindu nationalist concerns around Muslim and “lower-caste” fertility.

The worry here is that the coming population milestone will push India to adopt knee-jerk population policies. These could in turn unfairly affect women and minorities.

Four Indian states with large Muslim populations have already passed versions of a “two-child policy”. What’s more, built into many of these policies are incentives for families to have just one child. And in 2021, a senior government minister proposed a national “one-child” policy.

Like past control policies, they’re targeted at Muslim and lower-caste families, and illustrate a broader Hindu nationalist agenda with anti-democratic tendencies.

As happened at the height of China’s , Indians could lose government jobs and more if such laws were passed at the national level. Some Indian states and municipalities have already legislated that people with more than two children are ineligible for government jobs and to stand for political office.

The irony is that India’s birth rate and the size of families are decreasing because of women’s own reproductive choices. Many women are getting surgical contraception after having two children (or after having a son).

However, financial inducements for doctors and the means poorer women are pressured to undergo these procedures.

In other words, the trend in India is towards smaller families already. As the 2022 UN report itself notes, no drastic intervention from the state is required.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Calls for a ‘one-child policy’ in India are misguided at best, and dangerous at worst (2022, November 15)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Melting ice patch in Norway reveals large collection of ancient arrows thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Melting ice patch in Norway reveals large collection of ancient arrows

Hexbyte Glen Cove

An arrow from c. AD 700 as it was found lying on the stones in the scree, close to the melting ice. Credit: Innlandet Fylkeskommune

A team of researchers affiliated with a host of institutions in Norway and one in the U.K., has unveiled their findings after collecting and studying a very large number of ancient arrows they found near a melting ice patch in Norway’s Jotunheimen Mountains. In their paper published in the journal The Holocene, the group describes how they kept their research secret to avoid the possibility of others contaminating the site and what they have learned about the arrows thus far.

Back in 2006, archeologist Reidar Marstein found an ancient shoe lying near a melting ice patch (which subsequent recent has shown to have formed approximately around 5600BC) in the Jotunheimen Mountains. The shoe was initially believed to have been from the Viking era, but subsequent study showed it to be approximately 3,300 years old. That led the researchers to further investigate the site. They discovered that the area was littered with arrows used by hunters thousands of years ago. That set off a research project that involved detailing the location of each found and then the study of it that followed. To date, the team has found 68 arrows at the site, dating from the Stone Age up to the Middle Ages—the oldest has been dated to 6,000 years ago, which they note is approximately 800 years before Ötzi.

The researchers note that the ice patch is very nearly a glacier and thus is quite large—but not nearly as large as it once was. Global warming has been melting the patch and as that has occurred material once frozen inside the patch has been exposed. The researchers have found most of the arrows on the ground next to the ice patch, which has led to degradation due to exposure to the elements. But they have also found several arrows laying on top of the ice, an indication that they have only recently been exposed. They note that while some of the arrows found on top of the ice were in good condition, many were not, suggesting they had been degraded due to ice movement inside the patch—and perhaps exposure due to prior melting of the .

The researchers have also found reindeer antlers and bones and other biological matter but have been surprised by how few of them have been revealed as the ice melts.

More information:
Lars Holger Pilø et al. Interpreting archaeological site-formation processes at a mountain ice patch: A case study from Langfonne, Norway, The Holocene (2020). DOI: 10.1177/0959683620972775

Prehistoric Arrow Bonanza at Langfonne: … toric-arrow-bonanza/

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