Thousands of primary school teachers have been ordered to find two "volunteers" for sterilisation as part of a draconian solution to India's population explosion.
The order was issued to 6,400 teachers in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state (pop 170 million), where the teachers have been given until March 31 to meet the "sterilisation target" or face disciplinary action.
The plan, imposed by a district magistrate in the southern city of Allahabad, is a radical approach to dealing with India's population of almost 1.1 billion.
The nation's population, as displayed on a giant screen in the capital at noon yesterday, stood at 1,089,752,843. It is expected to overtake China (currently 1.3 billion) by 2020 as the world's most populous nation. It is estimated that 29 children are born in India every minute.
The magistrate, Amrit Abhijat, has remained unapologetic despite an outcry from religious groups and social activists. They say the scheme evokes memories of the forced sterilisation of the Indira Gandhi government of the 1970s, when nearly a million men and women, mostly from the lowest castes, were targeted. "The root cause of all evils is population explosion," Mr Abhijat said.
Experts disagree over whether the population will be a burden or a boon in the years ahead. Some economists predict India will benefit from the fact that China's economy is expected to slow by 2030 because of the ageing effects of its one-child policy.
India, by contrast, is one of the youngest countries in the world, with half the population now under 25, a fact that could give India a potential competitive edge over Europe where the population will soon be top-heavy with pensioners. Any advantage could depend on India's ability to educate its masses sufficiently to compete in the global economy.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Disturbing news from India...
From the Telegraph: