Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu fervently appealed to the people to stop family planning and procreate more children to increase the population of youth in the state in the coming years.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu fervently appealed to the people to stop family planning and procreate more children to increase the population of youth in the state in the coming years. It is surprising that the Chief Minister relied on wrong statistics and irrational assumptions to make such an appeal. None would expect a person like Chandrababu Naidu who is known for his modern vision would make such an irresponsible plea that can have pernicious social consequences.
The white paper on human resources and social development in Andhra Pradesh released by him lauded the efforts made during his earlier term to reduce fertility rates and achieve population stabilisation. In fact, this white paper castigated subsequent Congress governments for not continuing the momentum. There was no such reference to increase the population in the two important documents released by the state government – white paper or the socio-economic survey – presented on the eve of the budget.
The rate of growth of population in Andhra Pradesh, as per 2011 Census, has come down to 9.21 per cent compared to 11.89 per cent in 2001. To this extent, Naidu is right. The population growth rates in Andhra Pradesh are falling. No other State or even nation had managed to reduce the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) from 3.6 to 1.8, and stabilise the population growth in less than a decade (White Paper on State Finances). But, did the state reach a level where family planning programmes have to be reversed? Is the government planning to take up programmes to boost population increase?
Naidu’s concern for dwindling family size is also ill-founded. According to the socio-economic survey, the average size of households is 3.95. This means on an average a couple is having two children. Any knowledge of demography will reveal that poorer couples would have more children if one has to get these averages. Is it possible for a poor household to have a descent life if one or two more children are added. The recent report of the National Sample Survey reveals that Andhra Pradesh has the dubious distinction of leading the nation in indebtedness of agricultural households.
Chandrababu Naidu expressed concern over ageing population of the state that made him make such a controversial plea. Even this concern is not based on facts. According to the White Paper on Human Resources and Social Development in Andhra Pradesh, the elderly 60 plus constitute only 8 per cent of the population. The situation in the state is completely different from that of Japan. In fact, the state enjoys demographic dividend due to large proportion of young population. The child population 0-14 age of about 26 per cent and the young population 15-25 age of about 24 per cent together constitute half of the population. Instead of making such hasty appeals, the government should focus on improving the human development status which saw only a marginal improvement in the recent past.