Sept 05, 2016: The phenomena of unrestrained population growth that our country faces are generally attributed to the chaotic religious scenario that fills India.
But how far this conclusion is from reality?
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According to the cessation made from a recent study conducted by the IndiaSpend analysis of Government data and research evidence, the fertility rates, birth rates, sex ratio and all the aspects of a population are somehow closely related to the literacy, development, edification and financial state of the society. Education of families, especially that of women highly determines the mentality and consequently the status of family growing and family planning.
When the fertility rates for Indian population were released last year, the discussion has strategically deviated to the difference in growth rates with regard to different religions. And it was seen that the percentage of Muslims in India had grown to 14.2% of the total population in 2011, increasing from 13.4% in 2001, while the Hindus have reduced to 79.8% from 80.5%. There was no significant change in the percentage of Christians and Jains as the population growth rates were 2.3% and 0.4%, respectively, while the population growth rate was observed in a declining state of Buddhists from 0.8% to 0.7%, and that of Sikhs from 1.9% to 1.7%.
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The facts if properly examined show that richer(middle class, upper-middle class , and elite class) families, living with better healthcare amenities, surrounded by a comparatively broader mindset regarding education contribute to lower population growth rates in India. And also on the global platform, there is quite a little evidence to link religion and fertility rates as relating it to poor living conditions, conflict-ridden state situations and lower female empowerment have reported higher population growth rates.
The curious case of Kerala and UP
Taking a significant example of our country by comparing the literacy rates and population growth rates of two states (one from north) Uttar Pradesh and (one from south) Kerala, clears a lot of arguments over this issue.
Kerala has a literacy rate of 93.9%, compared to 69.7% in Uttar Pradesh in 2011. In the same year, 99.7% of mothers in Kerala received proper and necessary medical attention at delivery compared to the 48.4% of mothers in UP. 74.9% of women were above the age of 21 in Kerala at marriage while only 47.6% in Uttar Pradesh.
Economic status of family also works as a factor
The poor families also work on the motto, ‘more heads-more income’, and hence it is observed that families in lower wealth quintiles have more children as compared to the families having more economic stability.
And if factors such as quantity & quality of education, the eminence of healthcare facilities provided, awareness regarding sexual education & family planning is considered, these show much more significance than the religious identity of a family.
Also, according to the 2014 World Bank Data, when two Muslim-countries were compared another connotation was observed: Bangladesh, India’s Muslim-majority neighbor, had a Total Fertility Rate of 2.2 where Iran, another Muslim country, had a TFR of 1.7 which is even below the replacement level; correspondingly Malaysia & Indonesia (Muslim-majority countries) have a comparatively logical fertility rates of 1.9& 2.5 respectively but Egypt has a TFR of 3.3.
So, if the issue of Indian population growth is observed on a larger scale considering more and more factors that somehow affects this, it can be understood that socioeconomic factors, literacy, rejuvenation, urbanization, mindset, awareness regarding contraceptives, and effectiveness of state policies for development, all determine fertility more than the religious distinctiveness of a person.
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