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World Population Day: Is it time to control population explosion in India?

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Image from blog.oureducation.in

By Dr Rajat Arora

To gauge the mammoth rise of the Indian population, the most ideal places to visit are Metro stations, airports, malls, railway stations and bus stands. As we prepare to observe the World Population Day, a road-map to expand healthcare access across the nation has become a critical priority for the policymakers.

As per the Indian census carried out in 2011, the population figure was 1,210,193,422 – well above the one-billion mark. India, the second most populous country in the world, is projected to surpass China by 2025.

The poignant fact is that the figures are rising by the day despite the population-control policies, family planning and welfare programs undertaken by the government.

The mortality rate is on a decline thanks to the advancement in the field of medicine, but there has been no significant success in terms of bringing down the birth rate.

Image from blog.oureducation.in
Image from blog.oureducation.in

Much of population increase is among the poorest socio-economic strata. Relatively, socio-economically advanced Indian states displayed a fertility rate of less than 2.1 in 2009, which is less than the level needed to maintain a stable population following the infant mortality standards in developed nations.

Though the one-child policy in China was criticised as against human dignity and rights, it has helped China to control its population by a possible 400 million people.

There is a distinct possibility of irreversible and unsustainable population growth and big question marks remain over how India will provide nearly 1.7 billion people with their basic minimum needs.

As of 2013 statistics, the number of private hospitals and private doctors had shown a multiple-fold increase at 7,500+ and 300,000, respectively. Similarly, the private sector has enabled an increased availability of medicines by setting up pharmacies/chemist shops. There are more than 105,000 chemists who are providing medicines in 120 cities in the country.

Nevertheless, a disproportionate increase in the population has raised fears of an alarming shortfall in terms of the doctor-patient ratio and the corresponding accessibility to quality healthcare.

Increasing the welfare and status of women and girls; imparting education; enhancing awareness for the use of contraceptives and family planning methods; sex education; encouraging male sterilisation and spacing births can be some of the ways to curtail the escalating population.

It would be ideal for a country like India to be more progressive in outlook and shed inhibitions when it comes to free distribution of contraceptives and condoms among the poor.

As the government seeks to expand its expenditure on healthcare, it must select a strategy that provides significant healthcare access benefit to the Indian population. Sustainable policy solutions to healthcare financing, infrastructure and human resource challenges are critically needed.

Overall, while there are pockets of improvements, significant healthcare access challenges continue to exist for the Indian population. The longer India delays acknowledging the severity of these problems and dealing with them head on, the graver the consequences are likely to be.

(IANS)

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Taiwan President Announced Re- election after she Spoke Against China’s President Suggestion

Tsai indicated she plans to run for another four-year term as president.

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taiwan, china, president
FILE - Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a news conference in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan. 5, 2019. VOA

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announced her re-election bid this week following a bump in public polling that came after she spoke out against Chinese President Xi Jinping’s suggestion that Taiwan and China unify as one country.

She was polling at 24 percent after her party lost local elections in November. In January she was speaking out every few days against Xi’s idea and her approval ratings hit 34.5 percent by Jan. 21, according to a Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation survey.

On Wednesday, Tsai indicated she plans to run for another four-year term as president. Inspired by her jump in approval ratings, Tsai will center at least the early part of her campaign over the coming year on raising public suspicion of China, political scientists say.

“Their campaign strategy is to speak of hating China, fearing China and refusing China,” said Huang Kwei-bo, vice dean of the international affairs college at National Chengchi University. If officials reiterate these messages and they appear in the mass media, he said, “ultimately people will be affected by them.”

China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the 1940s and insists that the two sides eventually unify. Most Taiwanese oppose that outcome.

 

taiwan, china, president
FILE- President of China Xi Jinping arrives for the APEC CEO Summit 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Nov. 17, 2018. VOA

Opportunity to talk about China

The Chinese president’s Jan. 2 speech urging Taiwan to accept unification gave Tsai an unexpected opening to warn citizens against ties with China, political experts say.

In his remarks, Xi urged Taiwan to merge with China under a “one country, two systems” model that his government applies now to Hong Kong. Hong Kong is ruled from Beijing, but local officials make some decisions.

China has claimed Taiwan since the Chinese Civil War, when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists lost and rebased their government in Taiwan. Tsai took office in 2016. Since then she has irked China by refusing to negotiate on the condition that both sides belong to one China.

More than 70 percent of Taiwanese say in government surveys they prefer today’s self-rule, or full legal independence from China, over unification.

In one comment since the Chinese president’s speech, Tsai warned at an impromptu news conference Wednesday against any China-Taiwan peace agreement.

“China’s military ambitions and not giving up deployment of arms against Taiwan are making the region unstable,” she said. “As China doesn’t give up weapons aimed at Taiwan and emphasizes ‘one country, two systems,’ there’s no way to negotiate equally and there can’t be any real peace.”

Knack for China issues

Tsai, as former chairwoman of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and a former government official in charge of Taiwan’s China policy, knows the issue particularly well, said Lin Chong-pin, a retired strategic studies professor in Taiwan.

“This is her forte,” Lin said. “She has been immersed in it for 18 long years.”

Since 2016, China has shown displeasure with Tsai by passing military aircraft and ships near Taiwan and persuading five foreign countries to switch allegiance from Taipei to Beijing. Taiwan has just 17 allies left.

“In international relations, what she can do is limited, we all know that, but in winning the public support in Taiwan, especially on controversial issues like ‘one country, two systems,’ she’s very, very capable,” Lin said.

Her party takes a guarded view of China compared to Taiwan’s main opposition camp, which advocates that the two sides talk on Beijing’s condition.

taiwan, china, president
FILE – Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je casts his ballot at a polling station, Nov. 24, 2018, in Taipei, Taiwan. VOA

Tough campaign

According to a survey released Thursday by Taiwan television network TVBS, Tsai would take 16 percent of the vote if the presidential race were held today and she ran against non-party aligned Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je and Han Kuo-yu, opposition Nationalist Party mayor of the southern city Kaohsiung. The two mayors would get shares of more than 30 percent each, TVBS said.

taiwan, china, president
FILE – Nationalist Party’s Han Kuo-yu reacts after winning the mayoral election in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Nov. 24, 2018. VOA

Much of the public wants Tsai to stand up against China but also take stronger action on domestic economic problems, voters said in interviews in November. Among the domestic issues: low wages compared to other parts of Asia and rising costs, especially real estate.

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“She has already shown that she is against the ‘one family, two sides’ or ‘one country, two systems.’ That’s good,” said Shane Lee, political scientist with Chang Jung Christian University in Taiwan. “That will probably give her some points. But domestically there are many policies she will have to change.” (VOA)