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Population Control for both China and India can be better achieved by Empowering Women, says acclaimed Journalist

Chinese and Indian societies, both of which are patriarchal, must realise that marriage and giving birth to babies (preferably male) is not the sole purpose of women

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Population (representational Image), Pixabay

Jaipur, Jan 27, 2017: Population control, a vital goal for both China and India, can be better achieved by empowering women instead of coercive methods like Beijing’s “one-child” drive, says acclaimed journalist Mei Fong who has extensively studied the policy and its deleterious demographic and economic effects.

“Chinese and Indian societies, both of which are patriarchal, must realise that marriage and giving birth to babies (preferably male) is not the sole purpose of women, nor desirable early.

“Allowing women choice as to their education, jobs and methods of contraception is more viable for controlling population, rather than forced and ‘quick-fix’ methods like sterilisation, abortions and quotas,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning Malayasian Chinese-American journalist told IANS in an interview.

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Fong, who covered China for the Wall Street Journal and has authored “One Child: The Past and Future of China’s Most Radical Experiment” (One World/Pan Macmillan, 2016), listed the several severe and unwelcome outcomes of the policy, begun in 1979 as China under Deng Xiaoping tried to accelerate economically.

“It has led to a severe gender imbalance… there are many ‘villages of bachelors’ across China, there is lack of care for the elderly, and a falling birth rate, which will impact on the workforce China needs to remain a low-cost global manufacturing hub,” said Fong, who addressed a session at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2017.

Then the “Little Emperors”, or boys who were born under the policy — with Chinese no less keen than Indians on a male child — have a different mindset, she said. “They have received so much adoration… this can stifle innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Their parents, keen to get them a good match, have got them apartments to increase their attraction, leading to an artificial high in urban estate prices throughout China, she added.

On the other hand, though the lesser number of women are eagerly sought after, this has not made a difference in their status.

“The laws of economics do not work in a patriarchal system… women are more valuable, but not valued. They have been commodified and this fuels sex trafficking.”

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Though Chinese authorities had relaxed the policy as her book was getting ready in 2015 and now had a two-children norm, “women’s fertility was not a tap that could be turned off and on” and it was going to take long for the adverse effects to be mitigated, Fong told IANS.

It has led to a “strange role reversal” where the Chinese are going to America for babies, since it has better medical facilities and allows surrogate parenting.

She also cited the traumatic and bizarre circumstances that she had come across while researching the book, including a woman who was one of the “population police” reporting illicit pregnancies and involved in almost 1,500 forcible abortions including third in late stages of pregnancy, but herself having only a daughter and needing to adopt a son.

“This woman now lives abroad in hiding and her favourite pastime is giving candy to children,” she said.

She also recounted the case of a Chinese company once making furniture but now not finding it viable and switching to making full-size sex dolls. “They ship them out in coffin-like boxes… it is creepy,” she said.

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Fong also told IANS that there were many other “explosive stories” of traumatic experiences of the one-child policy, which she faulted as being based on a “faulty mindset” of all men deciding a policy for women, and going on so long without a course correction.

“They thought women’s fertility was a machine that could be speeded up or down… whether more humane policies, though taking a little longer, but less coercive, would have achieved the same purpose with lesser side-effects,” she said, adding the worst is that is that it was not the policy, but relaxing of socialist controls, that led to China’s economic boom.

“Government social policies can work. The problem is when fast results are sought,” said Fong. (IANS)

Next Story

Population Threatened by Climate Change-Triggered Flooding about Three Times Higher than Previously Thought

And if emissions of heat-trapping gases continue unabated and Antarctic ice melts more in a worst-case scenario, around 500 million people could be

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Population, Climate, Flooding
Cars drive through a flooded road at the entrance to Long Beach Island in Ship Bottom, N.J. on Oct. 11, 2019. VOA

The number of people threatened by climate change-triggered flooding is about three times higher than previously thought, a new study says. But it’s not because of more water. Population.

It’s because the land, especially in Asia and the developing world, is several feet lower than what space-based radar has calculated, according to a study in the journal Nature Communications Tuesday.

So instead of 80 million people living in low-lying areas that would flood annually by 2050 as the world warms, this new study finds the population at risk is closer to 300 million people.

And if emissions of heat-trapping gases continue unabated and Antarctic ice melts more in a worst-case scenario, around 500 million people could be at risk by the end of the century, according to the study by Climate Central , a New Jersey based non-profit of scientists and journalists.

Population, Climate, Flooding
It’s because the land, especially in Asia and the developing world, is several feet lower than what space-based radar has calculated, according to a study. Pixabay

Space-based radar says 170 million are at risk in that scenario.

For big picture global mapping of flooding threats, the go-to technology for elevation is NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission . But that doesn’t accurately show ground, instead mistaking rooftops and tree canopies for ground with an average error of 6.5 feet (2 meters), said Climate Central chief executive officer Ben Strauss, a scientist who studies sea level rise.

For the United States, much of Europe and Australia, this is not a problem because those areas use airborne lidar radar, which is more accurate about true elevation. But in flood prone Asia and other places that’s not an option, Strauss said.

So Climate Central used the shuttle radar, artificial intelligence and 23 different variables to create a computer model that is more accurate in globally mapping elevation, Strauss said. They then tested it against the airplane-generated data in the United States and Australia and found this computer model was accurate, he said.

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“This is a far greater problem than we understood,” Strauss said. “Far more people live in risky places today than we thought and the problem only multiplies in the future.”

He said the new model found “a huge difference” in elevation in places such as Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Jakarta and Mumbai.

Five outside sea level rise experts said the study highlighted a problem with current data, especially in Asia.

“This study represents very significant progress in the understanding of the risk which climate change-related sea level will cause for hundreds of million of people before the end of this century,” said Jean-Pascal van Ypersele of the Universite catholique de Louvain in Belgium.  “If hundreds or even tens of millions of people are flooded in Asia or Africa, it will create social and economic disruptions on a huge scale.”

Population, Climate, Flooding

So instead of 80 million people living in low-lying areas that would flood annually by 2050 as the world warms, this new study finds the population at risk is closer to 300 million people. Pixabay

University of Colorado’s Steve Nerem said the problem is real, but he isn’t sold on the new model yet, partly because it is based on the shuttle radar to begin with.

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It does highlight an issue that needs to be fixed, said Katy Serafin at the University of Florida. “The longer we wait to address this, the less time we will have to develop adaptive and sustainable solutions to coastal flooding.” (VOA)