World Population Awareness

Population Dynamics of India

August 14, 2013

India logo: textile print, red and white   doclink
350 million already live on less than a dollar a day. Indians are aware of the need for birth control, but too many remain ignorant of contraception methods or are unwilling to discuss them. There is considerable pressure to produce a son   One Billion Boom India Copes with a Population Explosion October 12, 1999, Environmental News Network doclink
India has billion people living in 25 states, speaking 19 major languages and over a 100 dialects, practicing over about 6 religions and belonging to thousands of castes and sub-castes. Each state differs so widely in economic and social development that it is difficult to speak of the country as a whole.

Even 50 years after gaining independence and being in charge of its own destiny, half of its people live on less than $1 a day. 48% of the adult population and 62% of adult women are illiterate; women are severely discriminated against, 53% of children under five are malnourished; 71% have no access to sanitation; 37% have no access to safe water; and there are around 100 million child laborers. 20% of the world's maternal deaths and 25% of its child deaths occur in India. Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai are three of the world's ten most polluted cities.

Policy-makers used to think that development would be the best contraceptive, with little attention given to planning a widespread population policy - except in the late 1970s when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi suspended the constitution, and people were forcibly sterilized. This terrified ordinary people so much that the country's population policy stagnated for decades.

Nevertheless, India's fertility rate has dropped in 50 years from 6 to 3.4 children per woman. And 30 million people want to use contraceptives--but have no access to them.

In India, there are many strengths it can build on: it is the world's tenth biggest industrial country; it has the third largest scientific and technical work force in the world; it is already second only to the US in producing computer software. Economic liberalization has opened up the country and given a boost to some of the most innovative entrepreneurs in the world. Businesses have geared up for international competition. Exports have gone up, investments have poured in. Armed forces that are modernized and well equipped, and with a nuclear capability, the country is also a military giant.

The country stands on the threshold of becoming a powerful regional, if not world, power. For this to happen, India's politicians and policy-makers will need the political gumption to initiate a bold population policy.   Democracy Not Enough to Combat Population and Poverty December 23, 1999 doclink

In the City of Bombay, more than half of the 15 million people sleep on sidewalks or live in mud-and-tin huts. For many of its poor people, every child is a potential wage earner: a servant in a house, an understudy in a motor garage, someone to do odd jobs.   1999 doclink

Human and Environmental Impacts

India: Mayel Lyang Sut Lom - Sikkim Threatened by Damming of Rivers

November 06, 2011, International Rivers

Mayel Lyang Sut Lom (Voices from the Hidden Land) is a 20 minute documentary showing the campaigns of the Lepcha community in Sikkim, India, against the construction of large dams in their homeland. The film shows the Lepchas struggle against the damming of the Teesta River and the destruction of the Dzongu region.

Dzongu, on the banks of the Teesta, overlooks the sacred Khangchendzonga the worlds third highest mountain and is home to red pandas, snow leopards, and the famous Khangchendzonga National Park. The Lepcha are waiting in apprehension for the harbingers of development the giant bulldozers, the heavy cranes, the polluting crushers. The film asks whether the dams being built in the name of development will destroy the Lepchas culture, identity and socio-economic fabric. It questions whether the construction of dams on the Teesta will leave the Lepcha homeless and disconnected from their mountains and hills, their sacred rocks and springs, their forests and streams. The film seeks to uncover who loses and who benefits from this kind of development. doclink

Karen Gaia says: When aquifers in India are depleted by overpumping necessitated by its large population, the country turns to other ways of obtaining water, including damming of rivers from the Himalayas. Energy for India's fast-growing middle class is another factor driving the building of dams.

Demographic Dividend Can Become a Liability for India

August 23, 2011, India Today

Under the Indira Gandhi government, a policy error pushed for population control through a programme of coercive sterilisation. The reaction to that policy created the concept of coalition government in India, and resulted in a population explosion which ended up creating the demographic dividend a couple of decades later.

From this demographic dividend came a young, educated, eager- to- work population that has powered Indian IT companies to the global top league, pushed India's automotive sector to world scale volumes, and helped build the steeland- glass symbols of India's growing economic might in our mushrooming cities.

But if the factors which make having a younger working population such a great competitive advantage — energy, drive, ambition — are not channelized productively, they can explode into anarchy and destruction.

For example, in England this summer, riots flared into an orgy of mindless violence and looting. Most of the rioters and looters were youth with little or no role to play in the sustaining of Britain as one of the world's largest economies.

In 2008, Jet Airways, caught in the unexpected turbulence set off by the global financial meltdown, tried to sack 1,900 staff, most of them fresh recruits meant to man the cabins of its growing fleet. The sacked staff took to the streets and approached a rabble- rousing political party. For the first time, India saw smart, educated, middle class boys and girls take to the street to voice their anger. Fortuitously, since that recession didn't last too long.

But now things may be worse than 2008 and an estimated 611 million Indians were under the age of 25 as of 2010. These post- reform children do not understand shortages or lack of services or infrastructure. But they are young, and youth is the age of rebellion. So far they did not really have anything to rebel against. But hand them a concept they can relate to — and the idea of rebelling against an amorphous, anonymously evil idea like corruption is something young people can easily relate to — and they can explode. doclink

The Great Indian Paradox

April 30, 2011, Population Institute

Can India's impressive economic growth keep pace with the needs and demands of a still rapidly growing population?

Its population has reached the 1.2 billion mark, and by 2025 is projected to surpass China at 1.4 billion. Despite a continuing decline in fertility rate, India's population may not stabilize until 2050 or later.

Being the most populous nation is not as important as whether or not India's population growth will overtake its ability to feed its people, and whether its continued prosperity is sustainable.

India's per capita availability of cereal grains was 423 grams per day in 2000, but only 407 in 2009. And in recent months, India - like many other nations in Asia - has been fighting a furious battle with food inflation.

While India's grain reserves remain ample, domestic food prices in India have increased at a double-digit rate, straining the budgets of the urban poor, many of whom live on less than $1.25 a day. Many experts believe that the current rise in food prices is a sign of an emerging and chronic global food crisis.

India's farmers face falling water levels, declining runoff from melting glaciers, loss of farmland to urbanization, the effects of climate change, and the ever rising price of fuel and fertilizer.

A lot depends on the welfare and status of women and girls. If girls can be kept in schools longer, if the age of marriage can be delayed, and if girls and women can be given the access they want to family planning and reproductive health services, then India's future is more promising.

But the treatment of girls and women in rural India, particularly in the north, while improved in recent decades, still has a long ways to go. Now couples are often electing to abort girl fetuses, skewing the sex ratio. And between birth and age four, girls die at a rate that is about one-third higher than boys.

Experts are hopeful that by raising public awareness, enlisting the support of news and entertainment media, and working at the community level to cultivate the leadership of women, rapid gains can be made.

If India's quest for continued prosperity is overtaken by a global food crisis, it's not just India's urban poor that will suffer, the whole world will suffer. And much depends on whether India-and the rest of the world-can continue to improve the welfare and status of girls and women. doclink

Population: the Last Taboo

May 2010, Mother Jones magazine - May/June 2010 Issue

Note: this very long article is well worth reading. To do it justice, follow the link in the headline for the entire article. Otherwise read the following shortened version. Please also read my comments below. Karen Gaia

Calcutta (Kolkata) is home to about 5 million people, at a population density of 70,000 per square mile — 2.5 times more crowded than New York City. Another 9 million live in the urban agglomeration, bringing the population of greater Kolkata to 14 million.

Survival in the 21st century lies in the depth of the snowpack in the Himalayas, the sustainable tonnage of fish caught in the Bay of Bengal, in the inches of topsoil remaining on the Indian plains, and in the parts per million of coal smoke in the air. The root cause of India's dwindling resources and escalating pollution is the same: the continued exponential growth of humankind.

Around 1965 the people of the Earth collectively taxed only 70% of the Earth's biocapacity each year. We first overdrew our accounts in 1983, when our population of nearly 4.7 billion began to consume natural resources faster than they could be replenished. Last year, 6.8 billion of us consumed the renewable resources of 1.4 Earths.

The United Nations projects that world population will stabilize at 9.1 billion in 2050. This prediction assumes a decline from the current average global fertility rate of 2.56 children per woman to 2.02 children per woman in the years between 2045 and 2050.

But if mothers average half a child more in 2045, the world population will peak at 10.5 billion five years later. Half a child less, and it stabilizes at 8 billion. The difference in those projections—2.5 billion—is the total number of people alive on Earth in 1950.

The only known solution to ecological overshoot is to decelerate our population growth faster than it's decelerating now and eventually reverse it — at the same time we slow and eventually reverse the rate at which we consume the planet's resources. Success in these twin endeavors will crack our most pressing global issues: climate change, food scarcity, water supplies, immigration, health care, biodiversity loss, even war.

On one front, we've already made unprecedented strides, reducing global fertility from an average 4.92 children per woman in 1950 to 2.56 today — an accomplishment of trial and sometimes brutally coercive error, but also a result of one woman at a time making her individual choices. The speed of this childbearing revolution, swimming hard against biological programming, rates as perhaps our greatest collective feat to date.

But it's still not fast enough. Faced with a world that can support either a lot of us consuming a lot less or far fewer of us consuming more, we're deadlocked. On the divisive question of the ideal size of the human family, we're united in a pact of silence.

In India, where the dynamics of overpopulation and overconsumption are most acute, where the lifelines between water, food, fuel, and 1.17 billion people — 17% of humanity subsisting on less than 2.5% of the globe's land — are already stretched dangerously thin.

Fears from the past—of racism, eugenics, colonialism, forced sterilization, forced family planning, plus the fears from some of contraception, abortion, and sex are reasons we don't talk about overpopulation. We don't really talk about overconsumption because of ignorance about the economics of overpopulation and the true ecological limits of Earth.

In 1798 in an Essay on the Principle of Population. Malthus, a political economist, argued that humans were destined to grow geometrically, while food production could increase only arithmetically, guaranteeing that famine would cinch the growth of humankind within the scarce purse of resources.

Malthus opposed government assistance to the poor on the grounds that it enabled more people to reproduce without the means to support themselves. He suggested a solution to the growing numbers of impoverished people he considered poor specimens, a eugenics-like answer popular in his time, based on animal husbandry and designed to "upgrade" the human race. In addition, Reverend Malthus believed families needed to limit their numbers of children, yet he opposed contraception. Only abstinence was acceptable.

Long before Malthus, humans sought to accommodate promiscuous intercourse without the entanglements of pregnancy. Even prior to the European discovery of rubber in the New World, men wore condoms: of oiled silk paper; fine leather or tortoiseshell.

India today prides itself on being the world's largest democracy. But it's also the hungriest, only recently and barely liberated from "the most dreadful famines" Malthus wrote of. One of every two underfed people on Earth lives here. 40% of Indian children under the age of five are underweight and stunted. India's underfed are increasing. In the state of Bihar, 9 of 10 rural children are anemic, a telltale marker of hunger and malnutrition.

In The Population Bomb, Ehrlich predicted that India could not possibly attain food self- sufficiency. Instead, American agronomist Norman Borlaug's "Green Revolution" brought dwarf wheat strains and chemical fertilizers to increase India's crop yields 168% within a decade, defusing defused the population 'bomb; and earning Ehrlich the dismissive title of Malthusian. Ever since, the subject has been largely taboo.

David Brower, the former executive director, of the Sierra, originally suggested Ehrlich write The Population Bomb. The Sierra Club had long supported population stabilization. But in the 1990s, anti-immigration activists spurred by John Tanton—who controls an array of English-only, zero- immigration, and nativist groups—stealthily twice attempted to take over the board. Perhaps naively, some Sierra Club stalwarts concerned with population joined their cause. The battle lasted for a decade, culminating when Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center ran for Sierra's board in an effort to expose Tanton's true agenda—and the fact that one of his groups had accepted money from white supremacists. [Karen Gaia: This is not the whole story - see note below].

Ehrlich's NGO Zero Population Growth then parted ways with Tanton (a past president), renamed itself the Population Connection, and embraced an end-poverty-to-curb-population approach. Ehrlich and his wife Anne, a conservation biologist, also left the board of Tanton's Federation for American Immigration Reform. Yet the scars between environmentalists and the development community are only beginning to heal. "When you talk about population," says Larry Fahn, Sierra Club president during some of the bitterest infighting, "the immigration people come out of the woodwork with their hate mongering. It's unfortunate that the subject brings out a racist agenda."

Abortion is an even more toxic issue. "Many conservation and nongovernmental organizations that run on member support, even the big ones, shy away from the population issue, because it puts their funding at risk. Even if you're talking about population as a sustainability issue, there's often an automatic assumption you'll be talking about abortion."

Despite the silence, the problem of overpopulation has not gone away. The miracle of the Green Revolution disguised four ominous truths about Earth's limits:

1. Chemical fertilizers of nitrogen and phosphorus are destined to run out, along with the natural resources used to produce them;

2. Fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that grew the food that enabled our enormous population growth in the 20th century bore expensive downstream costs in the form of polluted land, water, and air that now threaten life

3. Increasing fertilizer use has become necessary to keep crop yields stable, oversaturating the soils with nitrogen, and yields are starting to fall despite this;

4. Topsoil is being to the wind via mechanized agriculture, runoff and erosion.

Geomorphologist David Montgomery, author of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations calculates that human activities are eroding topsoil 10 times faster than it can be replenished. "Just when we need more soil to feed the 10 billion people of the future," he says, "we'll actually have less — only a quarter of an acre of cropland per person in 2050, versus the half-acre we use today on the most efficient farms." ... "We could, with crippling environmental costs, raze the Amazonian rainforests and reap 5 to 10 years of crops before the tropical soils failed. But the fertile prairies of the Midwest, northern China, and northern Europe are already plowed to capacity and shrinking."

Nearly a quarter of India's lands, more than 314,000 square miles, are desert or in the process of becoming desert, according to a recent Indian government report. Desertification will double India's current water usage by 2030, as more water is rerouted to irrigate an increasingly drier landscape to grow rice, wheat, and sugar for an increasing population, including the growing demands of a growing middle class. Severe deficits in water — and, by default, food — are forecast in India by 2030.

With the combined factors of peak oil, peak topsoil with global warming, a 20 to 30% decline in crop yields in the next 80 years is predicted by the peer-reviewed journal Science.

The process of photosynthesis itself declines precipitously as temperatures rise above 86 degrees Fahrenheit, making it increasingly difficult to maintain — let alone increase — crop yields. (The European heat wave of 2003 that killed up to 50,000 people also slashed crop harvests by as much as 36%.) Rising temperatures will put nearly all of India's crops at risk in the near future.

India's "atmospheric brown cloud"—the smog that fouls the subcontinent between monsoons—could undermine crop yields by up to 40%. Not only is there more smog in Asia, but Asian crops appear more sensitive to smog than crops in North America or Europe, even crops of the same variety. No one knows why.

The UN calculates that 36 million die of hunger and malnutrition every year—a person every second, mostly women and children. History may yet remember Paul Ehrlich as the premature prophet, not the false one, his predictions off by decades rather than degree.

I'm struck by how some of us are literally siphoning the flesh and blood from the rest of us, segregating ourselves into beings so calorically and structurally different that paleontologists of the distant future might well classify our fossilized skeletons as separate species.

At the time agriculture was invented,Homo Sapiens had super-prolific birth rates, but short life expectancies averaging a mere 10 years, breeding and dying in boom cycles busted by famines, natural disasters, diseases, and violence. Around 500 AD, we suffered centuries of bust, ravaged by the Black Death and its piggybacking disasters sweeping west from Asia—the last check on our growth. Since then, nothing has reversed our growth.

Two hundred million women have no access whatsoever to contraception, contributing to the one in four unplanned births worldwide and the 50 million pregnancies aborted each year, half of them performed clandestinely, killing 68,000 women in the process.John Guillebaud, emeritus professor of family planning and reproductive health at University College, London says it is not true that that poor rural couples actively plan to have large families because of high child mortality or to provide for their care in old age. They have large families simply because they, like most of us, have sex many, many times in their lifetimes and they do not have adequate contraception.

139 million new people are added every year: more than an entire Japan, nearly an entire Russia, minus the homelands and the resources to go along with them. Countered against the 56 million deaths annually, our world gains 83 million extra people every year, the equivalent of another Iran.

Eventually, most of these 83 million new people added every year will have kids, too.

Statistician Paul Murtaugh of Oregon State University decided to investigate the environmental price tag of a baby. "An American child born today adds an average 10,407 tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of her mother. That's almost six times more CO2 than the mother's own lifetime emissions. Furthermore, the ecological costs of that child and her children far outweigh even the combined energy-saving choices from all a mother's other good decisions, like buying a fuel- efficient car, recycling, using energy-saving appliances and lightbulbs. The carbon legacy of one American child and her offspring is 20 times greater than all those other sustainable maternal choices combined."

Due to India's drastically lower levels of consumption combined with shorter lifespans (63.8 years on average for India, versus 80.2 years for the US), an American child has 55 times the carbon legacy of a child born to a family in India. While India is conservatively predicted to grow by 400 million people by 2050, the US is projected to grow by 86 million. But take those additional Americans and factor in their 55-times-higher carbon legacy (at current national consumption rates), and they will equal the legacy of 4.7 billion Indians.

"The irony," says Ramdas of the Global Fund for Women, "is that just as some Americans are starting to learn to live more like traditional Indians—becoming vegetarian, buying locally, eating organic—aspiring middle-class Indians are trying to live more like overconsuming Americans. The question really is, which kind of people do we want less of?"

Stage Two of population growth: In the late 18th century in Britain, the onset of urbanization and industrialization brought about the first population explosion, as birth rates leveled but death rates plunged dramatically. This was spawned (ironically, despite Malthus' fears) by more and better food: the superior nutrition of corn and potatoes imported from the Americas, and an agricultural revolution brought on by scientific advances in farming. Stage two was also triggered by a revolution in our understanding of disease, which led to better handling of water, sewage, food, and ourselves. The primary driver behind this new science of hygiene was increased literacy among women, who wrote and read health-education pamphlets, and who managed the daily cleanliness of families and hospitals.

The ripple of change that comes from empowering women — what some call the ‘the girl effect'— is uniting the once-divided conservation and human rights communities.

Stage three is when fertility rates drop closer to death rates. India today is navigating stage three, which includes a contraceptive revolution, different in every time and place: in Europe 200 years ago, a revolution of coitus interruptus and condoms; in India today, birth control pills and, often, sterilization after the first son is born. This pivotal phase coincides with profound cultural changes, as women end their isolation in the home to enter the workplace and network with other women. Wage-earning women claim more responsibility for childbearing and child-rearing decisions, leading to a revolution in children's lives, as the decision is made to pay for schooling—a costly choice necessitating smaller families. This choice is strongly influenced by female literacy, since women who can read even slightly are more likely to send their daughters to school.

In India today, 75% of men are literate, compared to only 54% of women—one of the most lopsided ratios among newly industrialized nations. The statistic corresponds directly to fertility. In the state of Bihar, next door to West Bengal, where literacy falls below the national average—to 60% for males and 33% for females—the total fertility rate swings up to four children per woman. Conversely, the southern Indian state of Kerala, which boasts 94% male literacy and 88% female literacy, has reached a below-replacement-rate fertility that resembles the industrialized world's, at only 1.9 children per woman.

Of the more than 1 in 10 people who can't read or write today, two-thirds are female. Locate them, and you'll find an uncannily accurate roadmap of societal strife—of civil wars, foreign wars, the wars against reason embedded in religiosity, the wars against equality ingrained in patriarchal and caste systems.

When women are educated, they tend to marry later in life, to have children later in life, and to have fewer children. In effect, you have a form of population control that's peaceful, voluntary, and efficient. Plus, educated women do better in business, raising economic growth rates, and lowering societal conflict.

In 2003, the predominantly Catholic Philippines bowed to church demands to support only "natural family planning" — otherwise known as the rhythm method, and grimly referred to as Vatican roulette. The Filipino government no longer provides contraceptives for poor Filipinas, and government clinics no longer distribute donated contraceptives, including the wealth of modern birth control once provided by the US Agency for International Development.

Today more than half of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unplanned—10% more than a decade ago. In a first-of-its kind study in the Philippines, the Guttmacher Institute calculates that easy access to contraception would reduce those births by 800,000 and abortions by half a million a year. Furthermore, it would deliver a net savings to the government on the order of $16.5 million a year in reduced health costs from unwanted pregnancies, including the brutal medical consequences of illegal back-alley abortions.

Iran's fertility rate: 7 in 1980; 1.7 today. From a high of 7.7 in 1966, total fertility fell to 6 during the Shah's reign, spiked to 7 during the Islamic Revolution (when marriage became legal for 12-year-old boys and 9-year-old girls), then plummeted 50% between 1988 and 1996, continuing down to 1.7 today. That plunge, known as the "Iranian miracle," was one of the most rapid fertility declines ever recorded. Women of all childbearing ages in urban and rural parts of the country simply began to have smaller families practically overnight. The feat was engineered through a mobilization between government and media: Information was broadcast nationwide about the value of small families, followed up with education about birth control, implemented with free contraceptives.

Progressive social measures further primed Iran: increasing public education for girls (today more than 60% of Iranian university students are women); a new health care system; access to electricity, safe water, transportation, and communication. Similar fertility reversals have occurred in Costa Rica, Cuba, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, and Morocco—as quickly as in China but minus the brutal one-child policy.

The United States has been less helpful lately, beginning with Ronald Reagan in 1984, the "global gag rule," also known as the Mexico City Policy, prohibited US funding of any foreign family planning organizations providing abortions. The gag rule barred the discussion of abortion or any critique of unsafe abortions, even if these medical services were implemented with the group's own money (a ruling that would have been unconstitutional in the US). Bill Clinton rescinded the policy in 1993, but George W. Bush reinstated it in 2001, and before Barack Obama could rescind it again, the flow of aid to developing countries slowed or even stopped, eviscerating health care and severely undermining family planning efforts in at least 26 developing nations, primarily in Africa.

Joanna Nerquaye-Tetteh, of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana, testified before Congress in 2004 on the policy's effects in her country. "The gag rule completely disrupted decades of investment in building up health care services," she said. "We couldn't provide contraceptives and services to nearly 40,000 women who had formerly used our services. We saw within a year a rise in sexually transmitted infections and more women coming to our clinics for post-abortion care as a result of unsafe abortions."

As a result of the global gag rule, the UN estimates that at its height in 2005, the unmet demand for contraceptives and family planning drove up fertility rates between 15% and 35% in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Arab states, Asia, and Africa—a whole generation of unplanned Bush babies.

In Bangladeshi Muhammad Yunus founded Grameen ("villages") Bank in 1983. His revolutionary model was to loan to the unloanable poor—notably women—who lacked collateral, enabling them to develop their own businesses and free themselves from poverty. This radical innovation won Yunus the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Empirical studies now support his intuition of 27 years ago: Women make better loan recipients than men if your aim is to increase family well-being. Compared to men's loans, women's loans double family income and increase child survival twentyfold.

The best 21st-century contraceptive is a Yunusian device, a microloan. The paradox embedded in our future is that the fastest way to slow our population growth is to reduce poverty, yet the fastest way to run out of resources is to increase wealth.

The business of microloans is growing exponentially. Between March 2008 and March 2009, 22.6 million people in India received them, 60% more than a year earlier, despite the worst global recession since the Great Depression. This innovative approach to development is rewriting the demographics of poverty.

Rajendra Pachauri, cowinner of a Nobel Prize for his chairmanship of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warns that India's growing population can't afford increased consumption levels. "We can't support lifestyles even remotely like those in Europe and North America," he says. "We need policy initiatives to assure this doesn't happen. But the movement has to take place in both hemispheres. Awareness has to be raised in both the East and the West to deglamorize unsurvivable consumerism."

As of 2005, women in 18 of the 24 wealthiest nations were having more babies than in previous years. Nobody knows why. These 18 are the US, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Israel, Italy, Sweden, France, Iceland, the UK, New Zealand, Greece, and Ireland. The exceptions are: Japan, Canada, Australia, Austria, Switzerland, and South Korea. This fifth stage is upending a key tenet of social science: that increasing wealth, education, and gender equality invariably and irreversibly trigger a decline in fertility and a smaller population. This small but important fertility increase is good news for those who worry about Social Security deficits, but bad news for those who worry about societal security on a planet with finite resources.

What portion of the increase is due to the cultural norms of new immigrants? Or to abstinence education? The only known correlates are the highest levels of economic and social development. Perhaps the core question is, how much has our silence around population growth contributed to the emergence of this fifth demographic stage? Even in rich nations, most families calculate the costs of each child in their household budget—in the size of their house, the need for quality child care, and college costs. So would these same families make different decisions if they were calculating the costs of each child in their (equally limited) planetary budget—in the costs of clean air, water, and adequate food for all?

The paradox embedded in our future is that the fastest way to slow our population growth is to reduce poverty, yet the fastest way to run out of resources is to increase wealth. The trial ahead is to strike the delicate compromise: between fewer people, and more people with fewer needs...all within a new economy geared toward sustainability. Perhaps this is the sixth stage in our demographic maturity: the transition from 20th-century family planning to 21st-century civilizational planning. doclink

This is a wonderful article that I highly recommend. It talks about some reasons why the subject is taboo. However, the section on the Sierra Club and its fight with 'anti-immigration' activists displays lack of understanding on the author's part. First of all, the controversial elections took part in the early 2000's, not early 1990s. Second, to call them anti-immigration, or worse yet, anti-immigrant, is highly inaccurate. I was very involved with Sierra Club population program starting in 1998, when the Club was having problems with some very insensitive immigration reductionists (or restrictionists, another acceptable term). Up until 1996, the Sierra Club supported a reduction in population growth of the U.S. regardless of whether it was from births or immigration. SUSPS was formed in 1996 after the Sierra Club reversed its 30-year comprehensive population policy which addressed both the impacts of fertility and mass migration on U.S. population growth. SUSPS felt that the large contribution of over-immigration to the rapid growth in U.S. population must not be ignored.



Unfortunately, many people who realize population is a serious problem are numbers-oriented, nerdy types who are not the most sensitive or socially aware. But, just as we are able to overlook Malthus' political incorrectness, we should be listening to what these nerds are saying.


In my experience with the Sierra Club is that the types that remained active after the population program weeded out the restrictionists, were the ones who who do not do the math, who did not realize just how unsustainable the world's (and the U.S.) population really is. For example, a recent power point presentation produced by the Sierra Club population program, goes on for 2/3 the presentation about women's roles, reproductive health, etc, and only mentions water shortages, and strains on the environment at the very end. Many people in the Sierra Club realize population is a problem, but they don't realize how serious a problem it is. The Sierra Club steers clear of the term 'overpopulation', as if to say that would be an overreaction. Another example: when one of the restrictionist board members, Doug LaFollete, suggested that biofuels were bad for the planet, the Sierra Club ignored him, and went on to promote biofuels. Belatedly, the Club seems to have become aware that biofuels are accelerating the world's food shortages.


Another example: the Sierra Club is big on Climate Change. But, the companion problem, Peak Oil, is virtually ignored, even though the tremendous gap between lessened food production and increasing population, due to oil shortage, will have devastating consequences.

This article makes an excellent case for limiting the population growth of the U.S., because of its tremendous carbon foot print. That is one reason we should not discredit the prophesies of the immigration restrictionists, bigoted or not. While there are a few racists among them, their message about the upcoming 'crash', including unsustainable food production, should not be ignored.


And, as far as the Southern Poverty Law Center is concerned, this organization called a lot of people racist, who weren't, including John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club.

As Indian Growth Soars, Child Hunger Persists

March 13, 2009

Even after a decade of economic growth, child malnutrition rates are worse in India than in many countries, and stand out as a paradox in a proud democracy.

China reduced child malnutrition, and now just 7% of its children under 5 are underweight. In India, the comparable number is 42.5%. Malnutrition makes children prone to illness and stunts physical and intellectual growth.

Economists and public health experts say malnutrition rates point to a central failing of the poor. Hunger was not enough of a political priority. India's public expenditure on health remains low, and in some places, financing for child nutrition remains unspent.

Ignoring the needs of the poor altogether does spell political peril in India, helping to topple parties in the last elections.

India's sluggish and sometimes corrupt bureaucracy has only haltingly put in place simple solutions such as iodizing salt, or making sure all children are immunized against preventable diseases.

India runs the largest child feeding program in the world, but it is inadequately designed, and has made barely a dent in the ranks of sick children in the past 10 years.

The $1.3 billion Integrated Child Development Services program finances a network of soup kitchens in urban slums and villages.

But providing adequate nutrition to pregnant women and children under 2 years old is crucial and the Indian program has not homed in on them adequately. Many women here remain in ill health and are ill fed; they are prone to giving birth to low-weight babies and not to be aware of how best to feed them.

At one nursery the teacher was a no-show. At another, there were no children; instead, a few adults sauntered up with their lunch pails. At a third, the nursery worker said that 13 children and 13 lactating mothers had already come to claim their servings, and that now she would have to fill the bowls of whoever came along. "Otherwise, they will curse us."

None of the centers had a scale to weigh children and to identify the vulnerable ones. The nurseries were largely missing the needs of those most at risk: children under 2, for whom the feeding centers offered a ration of flour and ground lentils, containing none of the micronutrients a vulnerable infant needs.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development acknowledged that the program had yielded some gains in the past 30 years, but the impact on physical growth and development has been "rather slow." The report recommended fortifying food with micronutrients and educating parents on how to better feed their babies.

India remains home to more than a fourth of the world's hungry, 230 million people. Anemia is on the rise among rural women of childbearing age in eight states. Women are often the last to eat in their homes and unlikely to eat well or rest during pregnancy.

Childhood anemia, a barometer of poor nutrition in a lactating mother's breast milk, is three times higher in India than in China.

Serious rates of hunger persisted across Indian states that had posted enviable rates of economic growth in recent years. In the capital, which has the highest per-capita income in the country, 42.2% of children under 5 are stunted, or too short for their age, and 26% are underweight. doclink

With the Right Technology and Policies, India Could Help Feed the World. Instead, it Can Barely Feed Itself

June 22, 2008, New York Times*

India's arable land is second only the US, its economy is one of the fastest growing, and its industrial innovation is legendary. But its output lags behind potential. For some staples, India must turn to already international markets, exacerbating a global food crisis.

This country is growing faster than its ability to produce rice and wheat.

India's growing affluent population demands more food and a greater variety.

Farmers, subsisting on small, rain-fed plots, are poor, and inflation has soared past 11%, the highest in 13 years.

The Green Revolution introduced high-yielding varieties of rice and wheat, expanded the use of irrigation, pesticides and fertilizers, and transformed the northwestern plains into India's breadbasket. But since the 1980s, the government has not expanded irrigation and access to loans or to advance agricultural research. Groundwater has been depleted at alarming rates.

Changes in temperature and rain patterns could diminish India's agricultural output by 30% by the 2080s.

Family farms have shrunk in size and a mounting debt is driving some farmers to suicide. Many find it profitable to sell their land to developers. Many are experimenting with high-value fruits and vegetables but there are few refrigerated trucks to transport their produce to supermarkets.

An inefficient supply chain means that the farmer receives less than a fifth of the price the consumer pays. One farmer has seen the water table under his land sink by 100 feet over three decades. By the 1980s, government investment in canals fed by rivers had tapered off, and wells became the principal source of irrigation, helped by a policy of free electricity to pump water. In Punjab, more than three-fourths of the districts extract more groundwater than is replenished. Between 1980 and 2002, the government subsidized fertilizers and food grains for the poor, but reduced its investment in agriculture. Today only 40% of Indian farms are irrigated. The summers are hotter, the rains more fickle. India raised a red flag two years ago about how heavily the appetites of its 1.1 billion people would weigh on world food prices. For the first time, India had to import wheat and in two years it bought about 7 million tons.

Today, two staples of the Indian diet are imported in ever-increasing quantities, but could supply food to the rest of the world if the existing agricultural productivity gap could be closed. But some farmers make more money selling out to land-hungry mall developers.

For years a farmer could sell his crop to a private trader, but for many it was easier to go to the nearest government granary, and accept their rate.

For years, those prices remained low, and there was little incentive for farmers to invest in their crop. After two years of having to import wheat, the government offered farmers a higher price for their grain: farmers not only planted more wheat but also sold much more of their harvest to the state and the country's buffer stocks were at record levels.

The country would not need to buy wheat on the world market this year, but how long it will remain the case is unclear.

From one quarter comes pressure to introduce genetically modified crops with greater yields; from another lawsuits to stop it. And from another pleas to mount a greener Green Revolution.

A British research institution, said: "This time around, it needs to be more efficient in its use of water, energy, fertilizer and land." doclink

India;: Sustainable Growth

February 18, 2008, MorungExpress

By 2050, some 6 billion people will be living in towns and cities. Never before has the world witnessed such rapid urbanization nor such a swift rise in the numbers of people migrating.

Migration and urban growth are linked, because the majority of people on the move do so for economic reasons. And when these movements towards the growth centers intensify, such towns and cities can also be places of great misery.

Here, the foremost concern is the infrastructure, which stems from the excessive size of most of the urban areas beyond its holding capacity. This is leading to overcrowding, traffic congestion, lack of adequate housing, mushrooming of slums and settlements, lack of civic amenities, disease and squalor.

Surrounding green belts are slowly being devoured by concrete jungles and pollution. Further the psycho-social malignancies arising from the pressures of living in a survival of the fittest scenario, exacerbated by the loss of traditional social support systems, manifest in the high crime rates, psychotic disorders and racial and social tensions.

Appropriate policy must be put in place so that there can be a balance between the economic rationale for growth and sustainability. As a result of the non-availability of amenities and employment opportunities, the government policy should focus on ensuring that urban centers are well planned to absorb further growth while encouraging other growth centers to develop.

One long term solution is on improvement of rural infrastructure, the neglect of which accentuates the urban exodus. Municipal authorities have to keep pace with city growth.

Policy makers need to wake up or the process of urbanization will become insurmountable. A holistic approach to urban and peripheral area planning with a long greater stress on rural development which will obviate the need for people to migrate to urban areas.

The Central government has allocated huge funds including the urban infrastructure Development Scheme for Small & Medium Towns, which aims at improvement in a planned manner. For all this to materialize the State government and the concerned departments must ensure that funds are utilized properly. doclink

End of this page in "Human and Environmental Impacts" section, pg 1 ... Go to page 2

Progress: Successes and Failures

Getting India Wrong

Critics and supporters of the country's economic liberalisation make the same error-they forget about pollution and population
July 26 , 2013, Prospect   By: Partha Dasgupta

Modern development economics puts a lot of emphasis on income growth. The gross domestic product (GDP) -- based on the market value of what a country produces (including services) -- in theory creates employment and investment opportunities as it rises; and as incomes grow, both citizens and government are increasingly able to set aside funds for the things that make for a good life. And a good government would establish conditions that encourage this kind of economic development.

India in the early 1980s initiated a programme of economic liberalisation, and the resulting structural reforms led to the GDP impressively rising to 7.6% annually since 2000. The proportion of people whose incomes are below the country's official poverty line declined from 45% in the early 1980s to 28% in 2005. The decline is impressive, but the latter figure tells us that the country still harbours widespread deprivation.

However, the World Bank tells us that 45% of Indian children under five are underweight and 25% of women remain illiterate, figures that are worse than those in a number of countries that are poorer in terms of GDP per head.

Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya, in their new book, insist that two stages of reforms are necessary for successful long-term economic development: "Track I" reforms, aimed at enabling GDP growth and pulling up the poor; "Track II" reforms aimed at providing healthcare, education and guaranteed employment in rural areas.

Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen, also prominent experts on the Indian economy, have studied poverty and hunger over the past 25 years. Focusing on the neglect by successive governments of health and education, they find India wanting. They see a far better pattern of economic development in which GDP growth is to an extent traded off for more rapid improvements in health and education.

Unfortunately the analyses in the two books are based on a belief hallowed by tradition, but is misconceived. The model implicit in the books is one where labor (human capital), knowledge and manufactured capital are the basis of production, exchange and consumption. Nature is hardly mentioned as a player, and the idea that population growth could contribute through habitat destruction to the persistence of poverty and hunger is in neither book.

The problem is that GDP is not a suitable indicator of economic development. Development should instead be assessed on the basis of a comprehensive notion of wealth measured by the social worth of an economy's stock of capital assets, comprising manufactured capital (roads, ports, machinery, and so on), human capital (population size and composition, education, health), knowledge (the arts, humanities, and sciences), and natural capital (ecosystems, sources of water, the atmosphere, land, sub-soil resources). If institutions are weak or simply bad, the social worth of those same assets would be small, and that would translate into a low value of wealth.

GDP is the market value of the flow of final goods and services during a year. The depreciation of capital assets is not counted. If a wetland is drained to make way for a shopping mall, the construction of the latter contributes to GDP, but the destruction of the former goes unrecorded. If the social worth of the mall were less than the social value of the wetland, the economy would have become poorer.

The UN's human development index adopts misleads in the same way: an economy's GDP could be made to grow and its human development index made to improve by "mining" its natural capital.

Both books overlook the importance of “externalities," which are the unaccounted consequences for others (including future generations) of decisions made by each one of us about reproduction, consumption, and use of the natural environment.

Even though empowering women and expanding education certainly help to reduce fertility, a deterioration in the way a community manages the local woodland and water source or in the way the government adjudicates over property rights to forest land may mean an increase in the need for “hands" in each household, which then puts further pressure on the woodland and water source.

Deep connections have been found between the persistence (indeed, often worsening) of rural poverty in the Indian sub-continent and the habitat destruction that has accompanied economic and population growth.

Authors such as Indian economists Narpat S Jodha and Kanchan Chopra, and young economists associated with the South Asian Network of Development and Environmental Economists have found that interactions between people and the environment harbor tipping points, where an unexpected collapse of the rural resource base means a sudden dramatic loss in a community's wealth. Its source could have been population pressure and unprotected property rights over a fragile resource base. Civic strife has been known to follow attempts at migration by local populations. These researchers also found that the claim that “every 1 per cent increase in GDP per head reduces poverty by around 1.7 per cent" is unwarranted.

Neither book broaches the economic distress associated with high population growth in a poor society. India's population has grown at about 1.6% annually.

A recent paper by Kenneth Arrow, Lawrence Goulder, Kevin Mumford, Kirsten Oleson and Partha Dasgupta (the author of this article) tentatively estimated that during 1995-2000 wealth per head in India increased at an average annual rate of only 0.2%. This includes natural capital assets such as forests (as sources of timber), carbon in the atmosphere, land and sub-soil resources. A great swath of ecosystems and sources of water, which many studies show have degraded in recent years, were left unaccounted for because of lack of data). It appears that wealth per head in India may have declined in recent decades. doclink

Celebrate Solutions: Using Cash Transfers to Promote Safe Births in India

September 12, 2012, Women Deliver   By: Yousra Yusuf

Despite the the global decline in maternal mortality rates, mothers in India continue to die from preventable causes at alarming rates. In India in 2010 one out of every 140 women - one every 5 minutes - die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes.

However, using a conditional cash transfer program, Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), launched in 2005, the Indian government is working to ensure that no woman dies while giving life. The progam provides pregnant women with cash incentives for giving birth in hospitals and using health facilities.

Maternal deaths for women with high-risk pregnancies are largely caused by a delay in the decision to seek professional care, or in reaching the appropriate health facility, or in receiving care after arriving at a hospital. Because such women need access to skilled care to treat potentially life-threatening complications such as sepsis, hemorrhage, eclampsia, and obstructed labor, programs that focus on affordable and accessible health care are critical.

Researchers found that from 2005-2008, private facility births increased from 39% to 51%, and public facility births increased from 20% to 39%. An evaluation commissioned by UNFPA shows that JSY has seen an increase in beneficiaries from 739,000 in 2005 to approximately 8,380,000 in 2009, with about 71% women in five states reporting an increased awareness of all-hours government facilities for delivery.

This program will be one of the primary ways to help India reach its goal of decreasing maternal mortality rates down to 100 deaths per 100, 000 live births by 2015. doclink

Indian Girls Rebel Against Early Marriage

September 03 , 2012, Radio Australia

Indian law prohibits marriage for children or women younger than 18. However, at least 200,000 underage girls in India are married off by their parents in India every year, in line with centuries of tradition. In the state of West Bengal some girls refused to marry until they finish their studies and are self-dependent.

Bithika Das, is a 16-year-old child who stopped her marriage one and a half years ago. She lives in a small poor village. She has become an inspiration for many girls who don't want an early marriage, and dream of pursuing higher education and an independent career. When she was in ninth grade, her parents, because they were poor, fixed her marriage. She called Child Helpline and the helpline activists came to her house and stalled her marriage. Bithika says, by delaying marriage, she has chosen the path of self-empowerment.

After marriage, young brides usually stop studying; become dependent on their husbands and end up doing nothing but housework.

Illiterate parents do not understand that by educating their daughters they can empower the girls which can make their future brighter.

Over the past two years in West Bengal, more than 100 under age village girls have thwarted their parents' plans to marry them off.

Bithika said: Now I have got a first class in my high school leaving exam. I know I shall land a good job. After I marry in future, because of my job and strength, I shall get respect in my new family. No one will neglect me.

Chandana Haldar is another local girl local who defied her parent's early marriage wishes. She said: "In this male-dominated society most women are subjugated into the typical role of producing children and work like a bonded labourer in the family. I shall force them to change their ideas about a woman. I shall show them that a woman too can match the strength of a man in many walks of life."

Still close to half of women in India are being married when they are children. It is a violation of children's rights. It affects their health, their education, health of their children. Child marriage makes girls especially much more vulnerable to violence, to HIV etc. So, stopping their marriage and putting them back to school is key. doclink

India: The Last Taboo

June 01 , 2012, Mother Jones   By: Julia Whitty

Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is home to about 5 million people, at a population density of 70,000 per square mile -- 2.5 times more crowded than New York City. Another 9 million live in the urban agglomeration, bringing the population of greater Kolkata to 14 million. Kolkata's fertility rate is only 1.35, well below the global replacement average of 2.34. Instead, the city's growth is fueled largely through migration from a poorer and more fertile countryside.

Three hundred miles north of the city rises the mighty Himalayas, which contain earth's greatest freshwater reserve, supplying the outflows of some of the globe's mightiest rivers -- water for one in seven people on earth. Fifty miles to the south of Kolkata lies the Bay of Bengal, where 3 million tons of seafood are netted, hooked, and trawled annually. In highlands to the north and south lie the seams of coal that fuel the city.

Survival lies in the depth of the snowpack in the Himalayas, in the sustainable tonnage of fish caught in the Bay of Bengal, in the inches of topsoil remaining on the Indian plains, and in the parts per million of coal smoke in the air. The root cause of India's dwindling resources and escalating pollution is the continued exponential growth of humankind.

In 1965, the world's population of 3.3 billion used only 70% of the earth's biocapacity each year. In 1983, 4.7 billion people reached "ecological overshoot," when they began to consume natural resources faster than they could be replenished, according to the Global Footprint Network, a California think tank. Last year, 6.8 billion of us consumed the renewable resources of 1.4 earths.

The UN projected that world population will stabilize at 9.1 billion in 2050, assuming a decline from the current average global fertility rate of 2.56 children per woman to 2.02 children per woman by 2045-2050. But it is uncertain this amount of decline will happen, and, with just half a child more, on average, population will peak at 10.5 billion in 2050. { Note: In 2011 the U.N. had to revise projections upward because fertility rates weren't dropping as fast as projected.}

The only known solution to ecological overshoot is to decelerate our population growth faster than it's decelerating now and eventually reverse it -- at the same time we slow and eventually reverse the rate at which we consume the planet's resources.

This will solve our most pressing global issues: climate change, food scarcity, water supplies, immigration, health care, biodiversity loss, even war. We've already come from a global fertility of 4.92 children per woman in 1950 to 2.56 today. This was accomplished by trial and sometimes brutally coercive error, but also a result of one woman at a time making her individual choices.

But it's not enough. And not fast enough.

In India the dynamics of overpopulation and overconsumption are most acute, where the lifelines between water, food, fuel, and 1.17 billion people -- 17% of humanity subsisting on less than 2.5% of the globe's land -- are already stretched dangerously thin.

Paul Ehrlich, 42 years after he wrote his controversial book, The Population Bomb, said: "We don't talk about overpopulation because of real fears from the past—of racism, eugenics, colonialism, forced sterilization, forced family planning, plus the fears from some of contraception, abortion, and sex. We don't really talk about overconsumption because of ignorance about the economics of overpopulation and the true ecological limits of earth."

Kavita Ramdas of Global Fund for Women said "In the developing world, the problem of population is seen less as a matter of human numbers than of Western overconsumption. Yet within the development community, the only solution to the problems of the developing world is to export the same unsustainable economic model fueling the overconsumption of the West."

India's population is projected to add 400 million citizens between now and 2050, surpassing China's by 2030 in a country only a third China's size. But a slight uptick in fertility it could reach a staggering 2 billion people by 2050. Here, more than anywhere else on earth, the challenges of 20th-century family planning will become a 21st-century fight for survival.

In 1881, there was an understanding that human population was growing, thanks to Malthus, a political economist who argued that humans were destined to grow geometrically, while food production could increase only arithmetically, guaranteeing that famine would cinch the growth of humankind.

150 years after Malthus, hunger had killed millions: perhaps 50 million Chinese in multiple famines of the 19th century; upwards of 20 million Indians during a dozen major famines in the latter half of the 19th century; a million in the Great Famine of Ireland between 1845 and 1852; one-third of the local population in the Ethiopian Great Famine of 1888 to 1892; 3 million in Bengal in 1943.

Malthus opposed government assistance to the poor on the grounds that it enabled more people to reproduce without the means to support themselves. He advocated that the surplus population be allowed to decrease of its own accord or improved via eugenics.

Malthus believed families needed to limit their numbers of children, yet he opposed contraception, and many agreed with him. Only the "temporary unhappiness" of abstinence was acceptable. Other methods of birth control "lower, in the most marked manner, the dignity of human nature," he wrote. "It cannot be without its effect on men, and nothing can be more obvious than its tendency to degrade the female character."

Yet what Malthus put in motion could not be stopped. Fears of overpopulation spawned by his essay, combined with fears within families of too many hungry children, drove a 19th-century technological boom in contraceptives (including the invention of the first rubber condoms), known for a time as Malthusian devices.

Birth control was not new, there are many instances in history. Condoms were used in the 1500s to protect against syphillis. Coitus interrruptus was used in the 1800s, lowering family size up until the baby boom following World War II. Even in Malthus' time vaginal sponges were in high demand by European and American women who did not wish to rely on condoms or men. In 1871 an underground book gave advice on how to prevent pregnancy by douching after sex.

India today is the world's hungriest country, with one of every two underfed people on earth living there. 40% of Indian children under the age of five are underweight and stunted. More than 4% of babies born there die within their first month of life. Worse, India's underfed are increasing. And 53% of Indians are in poverty.

In The Population Bomb, Ehrlich predicted mass starvation by the 1970s or 1980s -- particularly in India. Instead, American agronomist Norman Borlaug's "Green Revolution" brought dwarf wheat strains and chemical fertilizers to increase India's crop yields 168% within a decade. This monumental achievement defused the bomb and earned Ehrlich the dismissive title of Malthusian. Ever since, the subject has been largely taboo.

The miracle of the Green Revolution, which fed billions, gave the world a false sense of hope. The revolution's most effective agents, chemical fertilizers of nitrogen and phosphorus, are destined to run out, along with the natural resources used to produce them. The fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that grew the food that enabled our enormous population growth in the 20th century bore expensive downstream costs in the form of polluted land, water, and air that now threaten life. Crop yields today are beginning to fall in some places, despite increasing fertilizer use, in soils oversaturated with nitrogen.

In addition, we're running out of topsoil, tossing it to the wind via mechanized agriculture and losing it to runoff and erosion. Geomorphologist David Montgomery, author of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations calculates that human activities are eroding topsoil 10 times faster than it can be replenished. "Just when we need more soil to feed the 10 billion people of the future," he says, "we'll actually have less -- only a quarter of an acre of cropland per person in 2050, versus the half-acre we use today on the most efficient farms." There is little land that is not already in production. "We could, with crippling environmental costs, raze the Amazonian rainforests and reap 5 to 10 years of crops before the tropical soils failed. But the fertile prairies of the Midwest, northern China, and northern Europe are already plowed to capacity and shrinking."

Nearly a quarter of India'a lands are desert or in the process of becoming desert, according to a recent Indian government report. The need for water will be doubled by 2030 as drier landscapes require more water to irrigate an increasingly drier landscape to grow rice, wheat, and sugar for an increasing population . McKinsey & Co., the global management consulting firm, forecasts severe deficits in water -- and, as a result, food -- by 2030.

A 20% to 30% decline in crop yields in the next 80 years was predicted by a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Science which examined a combination of peak oil, peak topsoil, and global warming. Photosynthesis, the process needed to grow crops, declines precipitously as temperatures rise above 86 degrees Fahrenheit, making it difficult to maintain crop yields. The 2003 European heat wave that killed up to 50,000 people also slashed crop harvests by as much as 36%. The lower latitudes, including India, will see rising temperatures and drier landscapes, putting our major food crops at risk in the near future. In addition, India's "atmospheric brown cloud" (smog) could undermine crop yields by up to 40%.

History may yet remember Paul Ehrlich as the premature prophet, not the false one, his predictions off by decades rather than degree.

Two hundred million women have no access whatsoever to contraception, contributing to the one in four unplanned births worldwide and the 50 million pregnancies aborted each year, half of them performed secretly, killing 68,000 women in the process.

We have heard that poor rural couples plan to have large families because of high child mortality or to provide for their care in old age, but John Guillebaud, emeritus professor of family planning and reproductive health at University College, London says that poor people have large families simply because they, like most of us, have sex many times. "For a fertile couple, nothing is easier," he says.

Our world gains 83 million extra people every year -- the equivalent of another Iran -- all needing food, water, homes, and medicine. Eventually, most of these new people will have kids, too.

Statistician Paul Murtaugh of Oregon State University found that an American child born today adds an average 10,407 tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of her mother. That's almost six times more than the mother's own lifetime emissions. Furthermore, the ecological costs of that child and her children is 20 times greater than the combined energy-saving choices from all a mother's other good decisions, like buying a fuel-efficient car, recycling, using energy-saving appliances and light bulbs.

Murtaugh's research also found that an American child has 55 times the carbon legacy of a child born to a family in India, at current rates. While projections show India growing by 400 million people by 2050, the US will grow by 86 million. But the carbon legacy of those additional Americans will equal that of 4.7 billion Indians.

Ramdas of the Global Fund for Women says it is ironic that "just as some Americans are starting to learn to live more like traditional Indians -- becoming vegetarian, buying locally, eating organic -- aspiring middle-class Indians are trying to live more like overconsuming Americans."

The first stage of demographic transition was experienced by everyone everywhere until late 18th century: extremely high birth rates coupled with extremely high death rates, resulting in slow population growth.

Stage two in northern Europe was observed by Malthus himself: the onset of urbanization and industrialization and a true population explosion, as birth rates leveled but death rates plunged dramatically. This stage was spawned by more and better food: the superior nutrition of corn and potatoes imported from the Americas, an agricultural revolution brought on by scientific advances in farming, and a revolution in our understanding of disease, which led to better handling of water, sewage, food, and ourselves. The primary driver behind this new science of hygiene was increased literacy among women, who wrote and read health-education pamphlets, and who managed the daily cleanliness of families and hospitals.

That change that comes from empowering women -- sometimes known as the ‘the girl effect' -- and it is uniting the once-divided conservation and human rights communities.

Stage three of demographic transition -- where India is today -- is when as fertility rates drop closer to death rates. This stage includes a contraceptive revolution: in Europe it occurred 200 years ago with coitus interruptus and condoms; it is occurring in India today with birth control pills and, often, sterilization after the first son is born. In this phase women typically end their isolation in the home to enter the workplace and network with other women. Wage-earning women claim more responsibility for childbearing and child-rearing decisions, leading to a revolution in children's lives, as the decision is made to pay for schooling -- a costly choice necessitating smaller families. This choice is strongly influenced by female literacy, since women who can read even slightly are more likely to send their daughters to school.

But only only 54% of women in India are literate compared to 75% of men. Fertility and literacy seem to be closely correlated. In the state of Bihar the literacy rate is 60% for males and 33% for females and the fertility rate is four children per woman. In the state of Kerala, 94% of males and 88% of females are literate, while the fertility rate is only 1.9 children per woman.

Of the more than 1 in 10 people who can't read or write today, two-thirds are female. Locate them, and you'll find societal strife -- civil wars, foreign wars, the wars against reason embedded in religiosity, the wars against equality ingrained in patriarchal and caste systems.

Sheryl WuDunn, the Pulitzer Prize-winning coauthor of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, tells us: "When women are educated, they tend to marry later in life, to have children later in life, and to have fewer children. In effect, you have a form of population control that's peaceful, voluntary, and efficient. Plus, educated women do better in business, raising economic growth rates, and lowering societal conflict. If we could achieve universal literacy for women, we'd have a much better shot at peace around the world."

A model of the women-empowering "girl effect", developed in Bangladesh and West Bengal, is beginning to ripple out through India's 565 million women. Microloans from Bengali microlender Bandhan enable poor women to develop small businesses. Bandhan's program has helped 2 million Indian women climb out of poverty. Concurrent with the microloan program is a Freedom from Hunger (FFH) program to treat health problems such as drilling tube wells to replace infected water, or providing sanitary toilets. Women are also educated in understanding health problems. Some of them become health care workers.

When women become involved with health care, they get involved with the HIV/AIDS issue, and this opens the discussion for sex education. Birth control also becomes part of the package, even in a Muslim culture. The curriculum covers everything from birth control to pre- and postnatal care, breastfeeding, child nutrition, maternal nutrition, and hygiene.

Bandhan recently opened an office in the extremely poor, densely populated, and predominantly Muslim city of Murshidabad where female literacy is only 36%, the fertility rate is around 10, and child labor and malnutrition are rife. The services provided by the FFH/Bandhan symbiosis -- the loans, the health forums -- may be the only means for these women to gain any control over their futures.

"Even though oral contraceptives are available for free or nearly free in Indian public health centers," says FFH's Metcalfe, "Bandhan health officers sell to more women in their homes than the government reaches. This is particularly true for Muslim women, whose lives may be more limited than Hindu women, and for whom privacy is an intensely important issue."

Whether we peak at 8 billion or 9.1, or 10.5 billion people in 2050 will be decided in large part by women's literacy and perhaps women's empowerment.

But government also plays a huge part.

In 2003, the Catholic Philippines bowed to church demands to support only "natural family planning" -- otherwise known as the rhythm method, and also as 'Vatican roulette'. The Filipino government no longer provides contraceptives for poor Filipinas, and government clinics no longer distribute donated contraceptives, including the large amount of modern birth control once provided by USAID

Today more than half of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unplanned -- 10% more than a decade ago. The Guttmacher Institute calculates that easy access to contraception would reduce those births by 800,000, and abortions by half a million a year. Also the government would save $16.5 million a year in reduced health costs from unwanted pregnancies, including the brutal medical consequences of illegal back-alley abortions.

In contrast, Iran reached a high total fertility rate of 7.7 in 1966, then plummeted 50% between 1988 and 1996, continuing down to 1.7 today.

Iran's demographic reversal was swift, uniform, and voluntary. Information was broadcast nationwide about the value of small families, followed up with education about birth control, implemented with free contraceptives. Public education for girls was increased (over 60% of Iranian university students are women); a new health care system was established; access to electricity, safe water, transportation, and communication was provided. Similar fertility reversals have occurred in Costa Rica, Cuba, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, and Morocco—as quickly as in China but minus the brutal one-child policy.

Then there is funding. The U.S. international family planning policy has ping-ponged from one administration to another. In 1984 Ronald Reagan established the "global gag rule," also known as the Mexico City Policy, which prohibited US funding of any foreign family planning organizations providing abortions. The gag rule barred the discussion of abortion or any critique of unsafe abortions, even if these medical services were implemented with the group's own money. President Clinton rescinded the policy in 1993, but President Bush reinstated it in 2001, and before Barack Obama could rescind it again, the flow of aid to developing countries slowed or even stopped, eviscerating health care and severely undermining family planning efforts in at least 26 developing nations, primarily in Africa.

In 2004 Joanna Nerquaye-Tetteh, former executive director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana, told Congress: "The gag rule completely disrupted decades of investment in building up health care services," ... "We couldn't provide contraceptives and services to nearly 40,000 women who had formerly used our services. We saw within a year a rise in sexually transmitted infections and more women coming to our clinics for post-abortion care as a result of unsafe abortions."

At global gag rule's height in 2005, the unmet demand for contraceptives and family planning drove up fertility rates between 15 and 35% in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Arab states, Asia, and Africa, the UN estimates.

Two years ago, Forbes magazine voted Bandhan the No. 2 microfinance institute in the world based on size, efficiency, risk, and return. Bandhan is not the original microloan pioneer. Bangladeshi Muhammad Yunus founded Grameen ("villages") Bank in 1983. His revolutionary model was to loan to the unloanable poor—notably women—who lacked collateral, enabling them to develop their own businesses and free themselves from poverty. This radical innovation won Yunus the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Studies now support what Yunus saw 27 years ago: Women make better loan recipients than men if your aim is to increase family well-being. Compared to men's loans, women's loans double family income and increase child survival twentyfold.

Bandhan has added the health forums and the health care worker program, as well as an initiative called Targeting the Hard Core Poor, aimed at those who can't meet the requirements for a microloan. "Rather than money, we give them an asset, a milk goat or cow or a roadside tea stall. We guide them through about 18 months of business development before they graduate into the microloan program."

The paradox embedded in our future is that the fastest way to slow our population growth is to reduce poverty, yet the fastest way to run out of resources is to increase wealth.

The business of microloans is growing exponentially. Between March 2008 and March 2009, 22.6 million people in India received them, 60% more than a year earlier, despite the worst global recession since the Great Depression. This innovative approach to development is rewriting the demographics of poverty. It's also selling the loan recipients bigger ecological shoes -- televisions, VCRs, larger homes, cars.

Rajendra Pachauri, cowinner of a Nobel Prize for his chairmanship of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warns that India's growing population can't afford increased consumption levels. "Awareness has to be raised in both the East and the West to deglamorize unsurvivable consumerism."

Europeans, Australians, and North Americans are representatives of the fourth stage of the model of demographic transition, where population is stable and aging. Fertility has fallen below replacement level and population is declining. Many aging nations introduce pro-natalist policies to keep their retired populace comfortably retired, supported by younger, working people. "But it's nutty," says Paul Ehrlich. "These highest-consuming populations are exactly the ones we need to allow to naturally shrink."

Four decades ago, Norman Borlaug warned in his Nobel acceptance speech that his Green Revolution would grant only a temporary respite from the issue of our own population: "There can be no permanent progress in the battle against hunger until the agencies that fight for increased food production and those that fight for population control unite in a common effort."

The trial ahead is to strike the delicate compromise: between fewer people, and more people with fewer needs...all within a new economy geared toward sustainability. doclink

Karen Gaia says: and now Iran has reversed its policy of promoting birth control.

Idea Suggests 3G Entertainment to Stop Population Rise in India

July 25, 2011, Business-standard.com

Idea Cellular is offering 3G services, and, along with, entertainment to distract people from having sex.

Power cuts can mean a stoppage of ones favorite TV shows and lack of entertainment in the lives of ordinary citizens could have often resulted in couples falling prey to unplanned family extensions which has added to the population of the country.

Mobile TV, Gaming, Video Calling, Social Networking on Super Fast Internet - all can offer non-stop entertainment to help people stay connected and entertained.

Idea's ad leaves a message that there will be 'No Aabaadi, No Barbaadi' (which translates to "No population so No Wastage of Resources!) because people will be '3G pe Busy'. doclink

Radical New Birth Control for Men 100% Effective

June 1, 2011, Technorati

Men have had only two options when it comes to birth control, condoms or vasectomy, compared to women's many choices: pills, shots, patches, lubes, and tying their tubes.

However, now scientists in India have developed an injection for men called RISUG, or "reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance" that has so far proven to be 100% effective. It lasts 10 years and can be reversed with another injection with no side effects.

Having their partner assume the responsibility for birth control will help some women who suffer side effects of birth control: weight gain and loss, hormone imbalances, and frail bones, and others who have low fertility levels to start with, which is emotionally and physiologically draining if combined with a contraceptive that also lowers fertility.

Getting the injection is the difficult part, involving two needle sticks into the scrotum, the procedure taking about 15 minutes or so. A non toxic, positively charged polymer is injected into the tube that the sperm pass through on their way from the testicles. The polymer shocks (kills) the sperm, which have a negative charge.

Because the injection last 10 years, drug companies won't be making money from RISUG.

India is about to go into Stage III trials with RISUG, practically the last step before it can be used by anyone in India. Thanks to Bill Gates and a 100k donation from the Gates Foundation, we might get RISUG approved here in the US. The company in charge of trying to bring it here is Parsemus, and they are trying to see if RISUG can work on women, too. vp

The author suggests giving RISUG to adolescents: there would be less abortions, and less accidental pregnancies. doclink

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Family Planning, Contraception

India's Azad Concerned About Growing Population

February 14, 2012, newKerala.com

At a recent Partners in Population Development (PPD) conference in Nigeria, India's Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said growing population is a matter of great concern.

"More South-South cooperation and mutual understanding would help to redefine strategies in terms of introduction of newer contraceptives, technical protocols and also replicate the successful schemes in the area of population stabilisation," said Azad.

He said: "Kenya and India can engage with each other and work together - We will be glad to share our policy initiatives, schemes, products and expertise." Each country can learn from experiences of other countries as to how best to address the complicated issues which involve health, education, socio-economic development and individual choices.

Africa and India together constitute more than 2.3 billion, which is roughly one third of the entire world population. Kenya alone has approximately 41 million people and like India, its population is very young and growing rapidly.

India's population now stands at 1.21 billion. The Census shows that the decadal growth rate has come down sharply to 17.64 in the years' 2001 to 2011 compared to 21.54 in 1991 - 2001. Also 14 States and Union Territories out of 35 have already achieved the replacement fertility level of 2.1.

India has tried to persuade people to have small family sizes for the betterment of the health of the mother, child and the whole family, while providing family planning services at health facilities and easier access to contraceptives.

Azad said "contraceptives, both male and female, shall be delivered free of cost and door to door by the community health workers in high focus areas."

Institutional deliveries in India have been increased from 47% to 72%, resulting in a reduction in the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) from 254 in 2004-06 to 212 in 2007-09, and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) from 58 in 2005 to 47 in 2010.

The Partners in Population Development (PPD) partner countries are from Asia, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. doclink

India: RISUG - the Revolutionary New Birth Control Method for Men

April 26, 2011, Wired

A new contraceptive procedure for men, known as RISUG (for reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance) is undergoing clinical trials. The new method does not have some of the drawbacks associated with a regular vasectomy. First, sperm would still be able to escape the body normally, which means there will not be the pressure and granulomas that sometimes accompany a vasectomy. More important, it could be reversed easily, with a simple follow-up injection.

In a vasectomy a white tube called the vas deferens, which sperm travel through from the testes to the penis, would be severed, cauterized and tied up the ends, and tucked it all back inside. With RISUG a nontoxic polymer is injected into the vas that forms a coating on the inside of the vas. As sperm flow past, they are chemically incapacitated, rendering them unable to fertilize an egg.

Ronald Weiss,a leading Canadian vasectomy surgeon and a member of a World Health Organization team that visited India to look into RISUG said "If we can prove that RISUG is safe and effective and reversible, there is no reason why anybody would have a vasectomy."

RISUG is not the product of some global pharmaceutical company or state-of-the-art government-funded research lab. It was developed by an Indian scientist named Sujoy Guha spent over 30 years refining RISUG while battling bureaucrats in his own country and skeptics worldwide. In study after study, RISUG has been proven to work 100% of the time. The procedure is now in late Phase III clinical trials in India, which means approval in that country could come in as little as two years.

RISUG is not available to Western men, although there is much interest. Thanks to a novel collaboration between Guha and a San Francisco reproductive health activist, RISUG could soon be on the road to FDA approval in the US.

India will soon surpass China as the world's most populous nation; in the poorest Indian state, women bear an average of nearly four children. Cheap to produce and relatively easy to administer, RISUG could help poor couples limit their families-increasing their chances of escaping poverty. In the developed countries, it would help relieve women of the risks of long-term birth-control-pill use and give men a more reliable, less annoying option than condoms. About half of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned.

The article goes on to describe Guha who turns out to be very interesting, and to describe more about the development of RISUG. You can read it by clicking on the link in the headline. doclink

India: A Reproductive Health Communication Model That Helps Improve Young Women's Reproductive Life and Reduce Population Growth

June 10, 2010, Zunia.org

Implementation of a reproductive health communication model called PRACHAR could result in 64 million fewer people being added to the population of India. PRACHAR is a reproductive health communication model found to be successful in delaying age at marriage and onset of childbearing, increasing contraceptive use for spacing of pregnancies, and generating the most positive impact on contraceptive use among the socioeconomically least advantaged. The model was developed and tested in rural Bihar, India.

Visit http://www.pathfind.org/site/DocServer/PRACHAR_Impact_-_Pathfinder_WP_Jan_2010.pdf?docID=18181 to see the report on the impact of implementing the model in the reproductive health and family planning programs in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. doclink

The Taboo India Hasn't Tackled

December 31, 2008, Guardian (London)

Only 35% of women in the south Indian state of Karnataka know that condoms can prevent HIV transmission. Taboos around condoms stand strong.

There are 2.5 million people in India who are HIV positive. Almost 40% of them are women. The government has suggested premarital HIV testing but these are short-sighted measures. What is required is for women to be able to negotiate safe sexual relations within marriage. Men are offended when their wives insist on it. Sexually empowering women is one way of curbing the disease. By now it is known that the female condom is one of the easiest ways to ensure this.

NACO runs a social campaign that sells the female condom at five rupees. It is a "boon" because it does not affect sexual pleasure and men are less averse to it. Some men reacted violently when asked to wear a condom. With the female condom firmly in place, these women no longer have to risk harm. But the campaign is limited to six states and elsewhere, the female condom is nowhere near as accessible as it should be.

Female condoms are not easily available at supermarkets and pharmacies. Women have to risk raised eyebrows by asking for them. Then they are out of reach for all but the most affluent. Female condoms need to be made part of everyday buying like other feminine hygiene products. doclink

Use of Contraception Fairly High in Punjab

November 18, 2008, United News of India

Contraception played an enormous role in fertility transition in Punjab. In spite of policy rigidities, socio-cultural barriers and programme deficiancies, contraception is at the core of the demographic changes. Its use among couples shot up in last three decades from 22% per cent in 1973 to 56% in 2006.
Punjab has done better in family planning programme performance, where acceptance of contraception is not limited to any specific group or groups and fairly well spread across various communities. Apart from Haryana (58%) and Himachal Pradesh (71%), Punjab (56%) is also recognised for higher use of contraceptive methods. Since the inception of the family planning programme, the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) has consistently remained higher in Punjab than the national average. Apart from awareness and desire to limit family size, the growth in CPR can be attributed to vigorous programme strategies, mainly tagged to incentives and disincentives to programme staff as well as the clients under target driven family planning programme. doclink

India;: Let Men Do Their Bit

October 23, 2007, The Pioneer

For 30 years, vasectomy has been taboo, and the burden of family planning has been on women. But modern vasectomy techniques are a success in the West. India needs to try them.

India's most populous State, Uttar Pradesh, will account for 22% of India's population by 2026. Fertility rates here destined to take decades to reach replacement levels. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are forecast to jointly account for only 13% of the population increase during the same period.

Currently, 42% of India's population produces three or more children. Of 188 million couples requiring contraceptive coverage, only 53% cent are using contraceptives. The percentage of women having more than three children is 57% in Uttar Pradesh, 54% in Bihar and 49% in Madhya Pradesh. Almost half the girls there are under 18 at marriage.

There is urgent need to push up the age of marriage, delay the birth of the first child and widen the scope for spacing and limiting families. Vasectomy is a feasible way.

Unfortunately, any efforts to limit population are attacked by critics as an invasion of "human rights". Given the culture of the northern States, such goals are dumped as "unacceptable" and "impossible" and invariably shunned by many politicians.

The Millennium Development Goals do not envision family planning as the route to improving maternal and child health. This acts as a deterrent to organisations getting involved overtly.

Concentration on maternal and child health services has excluded men. Counselling on vasectomy is just not their business. In India, men have ceased to be the object of family planning ever since eight million male sterilisations were conducted coercively and haphazardly during the draconian Emergency period.

Even now horror stories of three decades gone by give shudders to politicians, especially in the Hindi belt. With no other terminal option available, millions of women have perforce to undergo tubal ligations having already borne the brunt of unwanted pregnancies and induced abortions.

The recent resurrection of the vasectomy programme comes as a welcome surprise. Madhya Pradesh has doubled vasectomies in the span of just one year from 7,000 to over 15,000. Haryana has shown higher and higher performance each passing year. Punjab has quadrupled the number of vasectomies in a matter of one year. Rajasthan has upped the vasectomy performance from just 1,700 during 2003-04 by almost five-times.

On October 6, in Vadodara, nearly 900 vasectomies were performed and hundreds of men had come willingly for this outpatient procedure.

At every health facility, ANMs and village women togged up in their best attire escorted the "acceptors" for vasectomy. Surgeries progressed speedily and while the patients waiting their turn, paranthas, enthusiastic counselling and a bag full of condoms were kept in readiness to complete the day's work.

Whether the carrot was the Rs 200 motivation money or the Rs 1,000 compensation for acceptors, an enormous response was evident. But India's annual vasectomy total remains less than a 10th of the pre-Emergency levels, despite hundreds of surgeons having acquired the Chinese non-scalpel skill.

In India, vasectomies are treated as the poor man's option. In some Latin American countries vasectomy has been presented as an alternative to female sterilisation. What is needed is for decision-makers to stop worrying about resurrecting the ghost of 1975 and understand that our population growth is having a detrimental effect on maternal and infant mortality. doclink

India;: Compensation for Family Planning Hiked

October 02, 2007, The Hindu

Concerned over a decline of 4.3% in sterilisation, the Ministry has increased the compensation for the loss of wages to people who adopt family planning methods. This has been nearly doubled for vasectomy.

The compensation was revised on October, but sterilisation fell 4.3% during 2006-07 as compared to the previous year.

The compensation for vasectomy has been increased to Rs. 1,500 from Rs. 800 and tubectomy to Rs. 1,000 from Rs. 800 in public facilities and to Rs. 1,500 for both these interventions in accredited private health facilities to all in high focus States and below the poverty line, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the non-high focus States. doclink

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Holdups, Child Marriages, Dowries, Violence, Male Preference

Why Girls in India Are Still Missing Out on the Education They Need

India is no longer considered a poor country and yet many children do not receive a good education.
March 11, 2013, Mail and Guardian

Girls in India have obstacles to getting an education. If a girl is pestered by a boy on the walk to or from school, her parents will likely to take her out of school, worried about the effect on their "honour" if she is sexually assaulted, and get her married quickly. Schools can be crowded, teachers can be unreliable, the water at the school is undrinkable, or the toilets are filthy.

Even though the World Bank upgraded India from a "poor" country to a middle-income one, and the UK announced it would end aid to India from 2015, and the country has a space program, 48 billionaires and its own aid budget, the quality of education is poor. A free and compulsory education is guaranteed for all children aged between six and 14, and primary school enrollment is at 98%. Within government schools pupils face numerous challenges, according to Oxfam India.

An additional 1.2 million teachers were needed and only 5% of government schools complied with all the basic standards for infrastructure set by the act. Some 40% of primaries had more than 30 students per classroom, and 60% didn't have electricity. 21% of teachers aren't professionally trained.

More than half of children in standard five - aged around 10 - unable to read a standard two-level text. 2.3 to 8 million of primary age children are not in school.

It is girls are often left behind after primary school, 62% were forced to drop out to help with work at home or get married. Two-thirds of those not in school were from those lowest in the caste system, tribal groups and Muslim communities, despite those historically oppressed groups making up only 43% of India's children. Private schools serving low-income families are unregulated, and can lack trained teachers and proper infrastructure.

The Global Campaign for Education (GCE), a coalition of 26 NGOs and teaching unions, wants all nations to allocate at least 6% of GDP to education. India has been promising that since 1968, but the figure has never topped 4%, and it is currently 3.7%. doclink

Karen Gaia says: education for girls is necessary for lowering fertility rates.

India: Water, Food and 1.2 Billion People

November 16, 2012   By: Suzanne York

By Suzanne York

India is a predominantly rural country, with over 600 million of its 1.2 billion citizens relying directly on agriculture. Nearly two-thirds of Indian fields are fed only by rain, which is why Indian agriculture is dependent on the monsoons. June to September the monsoons bring 75% of India's annual rainfall. But climate change is likely to make the South Asia monsoon season 40-70% below normal levels and fail every 5 years or so over the next two centuries, warn experts1. This is bad news for Indian farmers who depend on the monsoons and consequently bad news for food and water security in a country destined to be the world's most populous by 2030.

Krishna Kumar Kanikicharla, a scientist with the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, said: "Livelihoods, water security, and energy security are all tied to volume and timely arrival of monsoon season."

In India, nearly 80% of women work in agriculture, so they will feel the brunt of climate change the most.

As for the water that is supplied by pumping of groundwater from aquifers - the aquifers are being depleted faster than can be replenished by nature.

The past 200 years of ever increasing reliance on fossil fuels is altering the climate in ways yet unknown. The world should commit to renewable and less carbon intensive solutions, yet the International Energy Agency just issued its annual World Energy Outlook 2012 report that states the world is failing to move towards a more sustainable path for energy, as it continues its addiction to fossil fuels in the face of climate change and growing water scarcity.

The Green Foundation is a grassroots organization that works to empower south Indian women to build resilient communities in the face of climate change and sustain rural livelihoods without damaging the ecosystem. Another organization, GRAVIS, promotes sustainable rural development via capacity building, community and women's empowerment, social justice, and protecting the environment, and using a traditional source of water storage, called taankas.

The overall solution though, is reducing global fossil fuel usage and emissions, which is the challenge facing the whole world.

1. Environmental Research Letters from researchers at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. doclink

Karen Gaia says: already 40% of Indian children are malnourished, facing physical and mental stunting. It doesn't look good.

Battling Child Marriage in India

August 26, 2012

We hear the story of Sunitra, a 14-year-old child bride, as an example of the situation in India. She lives in a one room house in Delhi; the government doesn't know she is married, and her husband is more than twice as old as she is. Sunitra got pregnant a month after she got married "we don't have much money and life is hard," she said.

A social worker named Amai, who herself was the victim of a child marriage when she was 15, says "We are working closely with the New Delhi government in order to give these girls more options," ... "I was lucky because I ran away and got help, but other girls are not so lucky and they don't know there are options."

Minister Krishna Tirath reported "according to the National Crime Records Bureau, only about 60 incidents of child marriages were registered in 2010 and 113 in 2011." But Amai says that hundreds, if not thousands more go unregistered and young girls "are forced into marriages before they even know what is going on. People are poor and this is a way to get money." She feels that boosting the economic situation for the hundreds of millions of Indians who struggle on a daily basis is key to ending child marriages and pushing the country forward.

Bihar and Rajasthan are the states with the highest rate of child marriages below the legal age of 18, according to an annual health survey for 2007-09; Bihar had 20.2% and Rajasthan had 21.9%. Most states have set up a Child Welfare Committee.

But for young girls like Sunitra, being married is a safety net. She said that her parents had no other alternative than to marry her off. "They just wanted to give me a chance and being married is a start," she added. doclink

India's Maternal Deaths Tied to Teen Moms' Anemia

March 21, 2011, Women's eNews

43 percent of adolescent girls in India are married off before the age of 18. Only Bangladesh, Niger and Chad have higher figures of adolescent marriages, according to UNICEF's report on The State of the World's Children 2011

The Centre for Health Education, Training and Nutrition Awareness (CHETNA), a nongovernmental organization working in the slum works to improve the health and nutrition of children, youth and women, including socially- excluded and disadvantaged.

"Girls in the age group 15-19 who marry early are most at risk of being caught up in a negative cycle of premature child-bearing, high rates of maternal mortality and child under nutrition," Karin Hulshof of UNICEF India said.

The UNICEF report, which focuses on adolescents, finds that despite its rapid economic growth, India has not been able to significantly redress gender disparity. doclink

Karen Gaia says: early marriage means more generations alive at the same time, more children per woman, and an unsustainable population growth.

India: No Honour in Honour Killings

August 31, 2010, Times of India

The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, says an estimated 5,000 people are victims of honour killing across the globe, including about 1000 every year in India. Now the National Award-winning filmmaker Priyadarshan and producer Kumar Mangat Pathak are making a film on the subject, titled Aakrosh. The film releases worldwide on October 1, 2010.

This action-thriller is is a wake-up call for the Indian audience. In addition, the Central Government is introducing a Bill in the Parliament to provide for punishment to the honor killers. Starring in the film are Ajay Devgn, Akshaye Khanna, Bipasha Basu, Amita Pathak, Reema Sen and Paresh Rawal in the lead. Ajay, who plays an officer on special deputation to a location where honour killing is prevalent, says, "I'm happy to be part of this film. From time to time Indian filmmakers have been tackling socially relevant and current topics. For an actor, it is challenging to be part of such a film because such films are often a mirror for social crimes."

There has been no prior Indian film on the subject of honour killings.

A visibly disturbed Ajay sums up the issue saying, "There is no honour in honour killings". doclink

India: Azad Announces Audit of Maternal Deaths

August 30, 2010, Manalorean.com

An audit of maternal deaths will be conducted soon in all states, said the Health Minister. "This year, we have taken another new initiative on a national level and that is the introduction of maternal death audits at the community as well as the facility level," he said. Availability of accurate data on maternal mortality was a major concern for policy makers.

"The lack of progress in improving maternal health presents itself a big global challenge," Azad said while inaugurating the three-day Global Maternal Health Conference in the national capital. doclink

India: No Demographic Dividend; How Nilekani Got it Wrong: Plenty is Not Pretty

April 16, 2009, Times of India

Summarized from an op-ed by By Rahul Singh, Chair of the Population Institute's Global Media Awards Committee

Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani is wrong about population in his otherwise perceptive book, 'Imagining India.'

First he mentions Malthus, saying that "As a poor and extremely crowded part of the world, we seemed to vindicate Thomas Malthus's uniquely despondent vision - that greater population growth inevitably led to greater famine and despair, and Paul Erlich of his 1966 visit to Dehli: "People eating, people washing, people sleeping"..people visiting, arguing and screaming"..people clinging to buses"..people, people, people."

But then Nilekani goes on to say: "In the last two decades, this depressing vision of India's population as an "overwhelming burden" has been turned on its head. With growth, our human capital has emerged as a vibrant source of workers and consumers not just for India, but also for the global economy." India has realized a 'demographic dividend,' a phrase which came from David Bloom and Jeffrey Williamson who studied the economic success stories of some east Asian countries, in particular Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan They found that one of the reasons for the success which had hitherto been ignored was, paradoxically, population growth.

Child mortality dropped between 1950 and 2000, with the delayed result of lowered fertility. When people finally realised that fewer babies were dying, then they had fewer children. The 'gap' children formed a 'boom generation,' creating a large number of young enterprising workers, Bloom and Williamson claimed.

Nilekani transposes the east Asian example on India to explain India's economic success in the last two decades, particularly in the IT area.

Literacy (80%) and healthcare (life expectancy 0ver 75 years) were put in place in countries like Taiwan and South Korea - even Thailand and Indonesia to a lesser extent. India has seen no such massive investment in primary education or public health; its literacy rate is around 60%, and life expectancy is around 64. India also has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the developing world, outside sub-Saharan Africa.

India's population increase has largely been among the poorer and least educated sections of its people. Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, UP and Rajasthan account for 40% of the country's population and 50% of its population growth.

Pakistan, with a population growth rate higher than India, has seen no 'demographic dividend.'

Mr Nilekani needs to look elsewhere to explain India's economic and IT success since 1990. It is not in the population area.

Since its independence, India has grown from 350 million to 1.2 billion. Food production has more than tripled in the same period, thanks mainly to the 'Green Revolution.' Admittedly fertility rates have come down from over six children per woman to around three, there are still about 18 million additional people each year who have to be fed, educated and housed.

This has led to massive environmental damage, particularly deforestation and loss of wildlife. Exploding cities and growing violence can also be largely traced to our increasing numbers. doclink

Karen Gaia says: the author fails to mention India's water, which it gets by overpumping aquifers, and from its northern neighbor, Nepal. The later supply will dry up when glaciers diminish from global warming.
End of this page in "Holdups, Child Marriages, Dowries, Violence, Male Preference" section, pg 1 ... Go to page 2

India In the News

Cash Sop for Family Planning: No-Scalpel Vasectomy

February 12, 2006

The government has launched a no-scalpel vasectomy camp. The state health department has got good response in two districts where the camps are already over. All those undergoing the operation will be given Rs 250 as bonus, besides free medicines worth Rs 45. Those who bring in the person to get the operation will also be given Rs 40 as a mark of encouragement. In Bokaro, as many as 239 persons have done NSV in the three-day camp. In Ranchi, the response was tremendous. The operation does not involve use of scalpel, therefore there are no stitches. It takes 10 minutes and the person can resume work after two days and start normal sex after three days of the operation, but with condoms. He need not use a condom after three months or 20 ejaculations, whichever is earlier. There are no side effect. This is a new technique started in China. By a special pointed forceps a tiny hole is made above the scrotum and within two days the hole heals itself. At present, there are 32 surgeons performing the operation in the state, which took up the technique last year. doclink

The lords of poverty

November 02, 2005

Salaries of a lakh or two are not rare in India. But when such salaries are in the voluntary sector, or NGOs, it's a matter of concern. In the last couple of years, three charities advertised for personnel for their Indian operations.

All positions offered over Rs 1 million per annum, and one even Rs 2.5 million. Surely, this is not the kind of millionaires we want to create, or the voluntarism that the land of Gandhi needs.

Indian recipients of such largesse claim they get only in the range of UK pounds 2,000-3,500 per month, the equivalent of a British schoolteacher's salary. However, to comprehend the real magnitude of this scam, other comparisons will be in order.

The sum equivalent to what top IT professionals make in India. It is over double the salary of the Indian prime minister and president combined. And yes, there are the perks " free housing, unlimited telephone use, foreign travel. On joining these charities, executives can expect a 300-600% jump in income.

Annual grants made by the agencies to some individual grass-roots NGOs are even smaller than their executives' telephone bills.

Many NGOs get all of Rs 2,00,000-3,00,000 a year, and for that they have to submit proposals, answer endless queries, and go through mid-term and final evaluations. On the other hand, the charity administrator is unaccountable, whether the project fails or succeeds. doclink

India Population Grows to 1.2 Billion

March 31, 2011, Associated Press

India's population has reached 1.21 billion, making it home to 17% of the world's people, though growth actually slowed - from 21.5% per decade to 17.6% - for the first time in 90 years, according to preliminary figures released by census officials.

The South Asian nation is second only to China in number of people added: 181 million in the past 10 years, an increase equal to nearly the entire population of Brazil. UN projections show that India could overtake China by 2030.

The initial numbers show a decline in the number of children under the age of 6, but a continuing preference for male children over females in a country where female infanticide is still common and doctors are banned from revealing the sex of unborn children. Marrying off girls is very costly, involving elaborate dowries. Also Hindu custom dictates that only sons can light funeral pyres.

The overall sex-ratio showed a marginal improvement, with 940 women counted for every 1,000 men compared to 933 in the last census.

The literacy rate went up to 74% nationwide for people aged 7 and older, from about 65% in the last count. doclink

$2500 Car Raises Tough Questions

January 20, 2008, Sympatico MSN Finance

Recently introduced by India's Tata, the Nano costs $2,500 and promises to improve the quality of life for the thousands of Indians who are starting to form a growing middle-class.

Up to five people can fit into a Nano - although there's no air conditioning, radio, power steering or electric windows. But it gets about 54 miles to the gallon.

As countries like India and China continue to post strong economic growth, individuals begin to prosper and the demand for cars begins to take shape.

Some have denounced the Nano as a source of further CO2 emissions in an over-polluted country. Why not invest in more public transport, instead of putting hundreds of thousands of cheap little cars on the roads of India?

But why should they not be entitled to the same conveniences that we take for granted?

There are about 18.5 million vehicles registered in Canada for a population of 32 million. The US has .8 vehicles per person.

We use around 53 billion litres of gas or diesel fuel. The governments we have elected have made limited progress with the formulation of a comprehensive environmental policy. Telling voters that they have to tighten their belts is never considered a popular tactic at the polls.

There's no question that people in India and China are as entitled to the consumer comforts that we've enjoyed for so long. The question is whether they'll learn from our mistakes - or merely be the victims of them. doclink

India Heading for 2 Billion Population

January 02, 2008, People and Planet website

India's population will almost certainly be near 1.8 billion by 2050 and could top 2 billion by the end of this century unless fertility rates decline more rapidly in India's largest and poorest states.

The possibility of India becoming the only country ever to have 2 billion people depends on the course of events in each of India 35 states and Union territories.

India passed the 1 billion population benchmark in 2000, and stood at 1.1 billion in 2007. The government has been concerned about population growth outpacing economic growth, and India was the first country to adopt a policy to slow population growth. Since the policy was first stated in 1952, the country's total fertility rate has declined from about six children per woman to about three, but fertility levels vary greatly throughout India.

The decline has been greater in its southern states, which have much higher rates of literacy and education. The southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu now have TFRs below two children per woman.

The large states of the north, the "Hindi Belt," are where about 40% of Indians live. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, with about 93 million and 188 million people, currently have a TFR of about 4.3 children per woman.

The state and Union territory populations were projected under two scenarios. One assumed that states with a current TFR above "two children" would decrease to 2.1 and then remain constant. The other assumed the TFR decline would continue until it reached 1.85 children per woman.

The first scenario results in a population that would reach two billion in 2066-2071. By 2101, four states, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh would account for almost half of the country's population. Scenario B does not reach two billion, growth peaks in 2081-2086, after which it decreases.

This state-based projection series uses national fertility rates and age structures, and PRB (Population Reference Bureau) believes it provides a more realistic scenario. The population projected for Uttar Pradesh ranges from 353 million to 364 million by 2051, and between 414 million and 480 million by 2101. The projected 2101 total for India ranges from 1.9 billion to 2.2 billion, depending on the assumptions for each state. doclink

The Future Population of India: a Long-range Demographic View

October 09, 2007, Population Reference Bureau

Two scenarios of India's future population assume that fertility will decline continuously to the point where couples average two children each, the goal of India's National Population Policy 2000. One scenario assumes that states with higher current fertility will decline to the "replacement level" of 2.1 children. The second assumes that the decline will continue to 1.85 children, near the level observed in states such as Kerala. The first scenario results in an India of two billion population while the second and results in eventual population decline. Follow the link to the PDF and the complete article. doclink

India;: Ways to Tackle Maternal Mortality

January 10, 2007, Telegraph

To check the maternal mortality rate in India, health experts have stressed changing the traditional treatment being practiced in villages.

Gynaecologists advocated the need to adopt advanced strategies practiced in some of the countries in Africa.

Lack of access of health care facilities are responsible for maternal deaths. Facilities in remote areas of countries like India have no specialist doctors and advanced treatment facilities.

Non-specialist doctors do major surgeries and fail to diagnose complications. Children's health is directly related to mother's health. We should introduce advanced facilities in our villages. doclink

End of this page in "India In the News" section, pg 1 ... Go to page 2

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Is India Falling Into the Malthusian Trap?

May 21, 2008, Business Line

India provided the final stage to re-enact Malthus theory on growth pattern between population and food grain production in the 1960s, when India was plagued by booming population growth and a diffident growth in food production.

Malthus was the first economist by training to teach at the college founded at Haileybury in England by the East India Company. The theories of Malthus, as propounded in an essay on the principles of population as it affects the future improvement of society, were sown then, centuries before the India's foodgrains crisis of the 1960s.

Over 200 years after his doctrine was published in 1798, the Malthusian theory has come back to haunt the Indian economy all over again. Agricultural production has dipped from 3.8% cent in 2006-07 to 2.6% in 2007-08. Between 1950-51 and 2006-07 the production increased at an annual 2.5%, which was ahead of the population growth of 2.1%. But during 1990-2007, foodgrains production dropped to 1.2% as population growth averaged 1.9%.

This disproportionate growth between foodgrains production and population growth does not fully explain the present crisis, which is beginning to assume global dimensions.

This is where the theories of David Ricardo, another classical economist of the eighteenth century, come in handy.

He developed theories which showed that economic development is not universal. Instead, he helped prove that countries do not develop at the same pace and that development often accentuates economic and social inequity.

The strident growth since the 1990s has nurtured a middle class demanding greater volume and better quality food.

The volume of food consumed by the burgeoning middle class and the upper crust has grown significantly. This would also have contributed to the crisis that is unfolding in the food sector.

There has also been a slower growth in the agricultural sector. This has been pronounced since 1996-97, mainly as a result of the acceleration in the growth of industry and the services sectors.

There was also a demand from a shift in cultivation from coarse to fine cereals. This shift seems to have eventually led to a fall in the area under foodgrains production, declining at an annual rate of 0.26% from 1989 to 2006. The poorest segments of society paid the highest price for this shift.

On a long-term basis, the consumption of cereals fell from a peak of 468 gm per day in 1990-91 to 412 gm in 2005-06. The consumption of pulses declined from 42 gm to 33 gm. For upper and middle class, any reduction in cereal consumption would have been more than made up by their increased intake of milk, eggs and meat. But no such shifts for the poorer segments. There is no doubt that the impact from decreased food consumption would have hit the poorest segment the hardest. The crisis in foodgrains production has been compounded by a surge in global demand and prices. Fast growing economies of China, Brazil and East Asia have precipitated the demand.

Several of the food surplus countries across the world have been shifting from food crops to bio-fuels. India was quick to seek to purchase foodgrains. But this proved insufficient and the UN sees more people going hungry in Philippines as rice prices soar. We will see growing reports of starvation around the world as a result of population growth combined with the diversion of food grains into biofuel production. doclink

India Aims to End Poverty by 2040

February 06, 2007, BBC News

India's Finance Minister said poverty could be wiped out by 2040, due to India's economic growth.

But he said that 25% of all Indians, or more than 250 million people, were living in poverty, on less than $1 a day.

The rapid economic growth in India could have widened the gap between the richest and the poorest.

But those at the bottom of the pyramid have seen improvement in their lives. More should be done to combat low life expectancy and high mortality rates.

India has become a world economic power, with growth over the past three years averaging 8%. Based on purchasing power, it is now the world's fourth largest economy.

However, income per head in India is $720 a year. doclink

Karen Gaia says: oil-based economies are not sustainable. Over-pumping of water from aquifers to grow crops for an ever-growing population is not sustainable.

Low-cost Lamps Brighten the Future of Rural India

January 22, 2006, Christian Science Monitor

Innovative lights were installed by (GSBF), a Bombay-based nongovernmental organization bringing light to rural India. 100,000 Indian villages do not yet have electricity. The GSBF lamps use LEDs, four times more efficient than an incandescent bulb. After a $55 installation cost, solar energy lights the lamp. As many as 1.5 billion people light their houses using kerosene and consumes nearly 4% of a typical rural Indian household's budget. Indoor air pollution results in 1.6 million deaths worldwide every year. White LEDS produce nearly 200 times more useful light than a kerosene lamp and almost 50 times that of a conventional bulb. This technology can light an entire village with less energy than used by a single 100 watt light bulb. The technology, which is not widely known in India, faces some skepticism. In a scenario in which nearly 60% of India's rural population uses 180 million tons of biomass per year for cooking via primitive wood stoves, which are smoky and provide only 10-15% efficiency in cooking, there is a need for a clean energy source for domestic purposes. The Indian government launched an ambitious project to bring electricity to 112,000 rural villages in the next decade. The Indian government recognizes the potential of LED lighting powered by solar technology, but expressed reservations about its high costs. At $55 each, the lamps cost nearly half the price of other solar lighting systems and the founder of the NGO wants to set up an LED manufacturing unit and a solar panel manufacturing unit in India. If manufactured locally, the cost could plummet to $22, but they need $5 million for this. The rural markets in India can't afford it, until the prices are brought down. In a shanty town in Johannesburg, almost 10,000 homes spent more than $60 each on candles and paraffin every year and could afford to purchase a solid state lighting system if they have access to micro-credit. In villages the newly installed LED lamps are a subject of envy, as the grid has power cuts up to 6 or 7 hours a day. Constant blackouts are common problem due to old technology and illegal stealing of electricity. The lamps provided by GSBF have enough power to provide four hours of light a day. But that's enough for people to get their work done in the early hours of the night. doclink