China is on the reverse gear, after nearly four decades of clampdown on population growth. By allowing all couples to have at least two children, China is going to address its concern over increasing aging population. Slowdown of the Chinese economy is partly blamed for the huge percentage of ‘old people’, thanks to its infamous one-child norm since 1970’s. All along, the same policy was given the credit of accelerating the Chinese economic boom, giving nightmares to western super powers and the US. What was right yesterday may not be so today.

In neighbouring India, the government never imposed stringent population control measures as we hear those exist in China such as forced sterilization, forced abortion besides imposing penalties. Applying for birth quota is no secret in the Communist nation. Such measures are unimaginable in India, at least for the next 50 years. But by then, it is not sure whether India would still be able to bear its masses. By 2022, according to a UN report, India’s population will overtake that of China’s when the latter will see its population stablised. The UN report also forecast India’s population to grow at a steady rate till 2050 before getting stablised. Then China will start seeing a sharp decline in its population. Of course, the historic decision of withdrawing one-child norm might upset that forcast.

While India’s headache of a population burst will be far from over in the next decades, many European nations still face the crisis of manpower. Russia, the world’s biggest country, has a major concern of less population. One of the reasons for Germany’s ‘warm welcome’ to refugees from the Middle East is its aging population. Even in India, there are regions where ‘less population’ (of particular communities) is still a concern. In Arunachal Pradesh, there is a polling station for only two voters! In Meghalaya, there are instances of awarding indigenous couples for producing as many as 17 children! Mizoram’s Zion Shan, head of the world’s biggest family, is the proud husband of 39 wives and 94 children. While most parts of the country are already over populated, such regions act as important buffer zones. The diversity should exist, but, at the same time, there is need for aggressive population control measures. Politicians are skeptic of taking up the issue fearing sentiment of minority communities. Population of the country is a much bigger issue than politics. It was understood by China four decades ago, although it went overboard to achieve ‘growth’. Is India waking up?

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on October 30, 2015)

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