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India mulls late-night TV as population control

India's health minister believes late night TV makes for good birth control. Family planning family planning

Use of measures designed to regulate the number and spacing of children within a family, largely to curb population growth and ensure each family’s access to limited resources.
 experts fear he has simply run out of ideas for curbing India's potentially catastrophic population growth.

It's still unclear how serious Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Ghulam Nabi Azad (born March 7, 1949 in Jammu and Kashmir, India) is an Indian politician from the Indian National Congress. He was the Parliamentary Affairs Minister of India in the Manmohan Singh government until October 27, when he was appointed as the chief minister of the  was being when he made an impassioned plea this month for India to bring electricity to all its villages.

"When there is no electricity, there is nothing else to do but produce babies," Azad said at a function to mark World Population Day.

"If there is electricity in every village, then people will watch TV till late at night and then fall asleep. They won't get a chance to produce children," he said.

Whether the minister was being flippant flip·pant  
adj.
1. Marked by disrespectful levity or casualness; pert.

2. Archaic Talkative; voluble.



[Probably from flip.
 -- he insists not -- the issue of population growth in India, and the lack of success in controlling it, is deadly serious.

Since independence in 1947, the population has tripled to nearly 1.2 billion and now grows by 18 million every year.

India is expected to surpass China as the world's most populous nation by 2028 and the population is predicted to top 1.5 billion by 2050.

This in a country where scarce resources already have millions competing for drinking water drinking water

supply of water available to animals for drinking supplied via nipples, in troughs, dams, ponds and larger natural water sources; an insufficient supply leads to dehydration; it can be the source of infection, e.g. leptospirosis, salmonellosis, or of poisoning, e.g.
, sanitation, health care, education and jobs.

Family planning in India was held back for decades by the fallout from a disastrous sterilisation programme introduced in the mid-1970s by Sanjay Gandhi Sanjay Gandhi (earlier known as sanjiv gandhi) (December 14, 1946 –- June 23, 1980) was an Indian politician, the younger son of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Mohammad Younus. , son of the then-prime minister Indira Gandhi Noun 1. Indira Gandhi - daughter of Nehru who served as prime minister of India from 1966 to 1977 (1917-1984)
Gandhi, Indira Nehru Gandhi, Mrs. Gandhi
.

The programme targeted men with more than two children but, in order to meet quotas, government officials forced large numbers of unmarried, poor men to submit to vasectomies.

The policy was discontinued after less than two years, but its legacy was a long-lasting aversion to any government control programme that even hinted at coercion.

That, and the democratic principles upon which the modern Indian state was founded, prevented any emulation of China's one-child policy The Planned Birth policy (Simplified Chinese: 计划生育; Pinyin: jìhuà shēngyù) is the birth control policy of the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC). .

"In a democracy, the government has no business to order its people to have fewer children," said Neeraj Singh, who runs a voluntary organisation to educate young married couples about family planning.

"It can only educate them to understand that the population issue needs urgent attention and that only citizens can do something to address the problem," Singh said.

But such lessons are hard to get across in a country where family is paramount and where many still see children as an investment for their old age.

"Asking people to have fewer kids in India is just like telling them to change their religion. It is a very sensitive issue," says Veena vee·na  
n.
Variant of vina.
 Rawat, who runs an all-women organisation that advocates family planning.

Rawat believes the government has to provide specific incentives to make people sign up for programmes.

"We could induce couples to have fewer children by providing monetary support or gifting them retirement benefits... ways to make people who adhere to adhere to
verb 1. follow, keep, maintain, respect, observe, be true, fulfil, obey, heed, keep to, abide by, be loyal, mind, be constant, be faithful

2.
 family planning feel special," she said.

For Azad's television theory, she has nothing but scorn.

"Such bizarre ideas are only suggested when the government has no intentions or is too scared to find solutions," she said.

While the health minister himself has warned that India is "sitting on a volatile volcano", some demographic experts question the whole premise of the population doomsday scenario.

They point to growing evidence that population growth decreases as the economic and social status of people, and especially women, improves.

Nine relatively affluent Indian states, including Maharashtra and Punjab, boast fertility rates -- the number of children an average woman produces -- as low as 1.8, compared with a national average of 3.4 in 1993.

In the 1980s, the government launched a popular slogan "Hum Do Hamare Do" (We Two and Our Two) suggesting a small family -- with two children -- is a happy family.

This resonated with middle and upper-income groups but had little impact among India's poorer masses, for whom children were key income earners. The importance attached to male children also meant that many couples with two daughters would keep trying for a son.

Shyama Kumari, a mother of five who distributes free condoms for a voluntary organisation in the New Delhi New Delhi (dĕl`ē), city (1991 pop. 294,149), capital of India and of Delhi state, N central India, on the right bank of the Yamuna River.  slum where she lives, is an example of how disadvantaged Indian women who understand and appreciate family planning are often unable to practise it.

"Some women mock me and say I should give my husband a condom too but he refuses to use it and believes children are God's gift," said Kumari, 32, who secretly terminated her sixth pregnancy.

"One day, I suggested he undergo a vasectomy vasectomy, male sterilization by surgical excision of the vas deferens, the thin duct that carries sperm cells from the testicles to the prostate and the penis.  but he abused me and said I was a witch as no wife would ever take away her husband's manhood MANHOOD. The ceremony of doing homage by the vassal to his lord was denominated homagium or manhood, by the feudists. The formula used was devenio vester homo, I become you Com. 54. See Homage. ," she added.

Kumari can also testify directly to the inadequacy of Azad's concept of television as a libido libido (lĭbē`dō, –bī`–) [Lat.,=lust], psychoanalytic term used by Sigmund Freud to identify instinctive energy with the sex instinct.  reducer.

"I have a small TV in my home. My husband watches some shows in the evening but we have sex at least three times a week," she said.
Copyright 2009 AFP South Asian Edition
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Author:AFP
Publication:AFP South Asian Edition
Date:Aug 1, 2009
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