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Aadhaar, National Population Register and #India #Population

Yesterdays report in The Economic Times says that the Indian Government has decided to link Aadhaar information to National Population Register (NPR).

This is a very good move. This will not only benefit people who are benefited by the various schemes, it will also bring accountability to the population count, who everyone is, and where they generally live. And this will help in measures related to resource allocation (money and workforce) in implementing government plans and schemes.

It will also help check illegal immigration from Bangladesh. One of the serious issues that we have in the states bordering Bangladesh is that identifying individuals had become difficult for the police and the establishment because of the facial features.   Many Indian citizens who live in the remote areas do not have identity cards like PAN, thus it would be impossible to identify whether a person is an Indian citizen or not. Now, with Aadhaar linking to the NPR, bio-metric information is stored to the master database, so more accountability is brought in.

In addition, it would be great if birth & death registrations become online for quick updates to population count, so that planning become efficient.

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Is #Sterilization the solution to #India #Population?

This article was posted in Reuters yesterday, and it talks about how sterilization is the major means of India population control.

It’s really sad to hear that even in the days of Information Technology, social networks, smart phones, cloud, and reach-ability to the masses, to the rural masses in particular through startup apps., these kind of measures are required.

India technology evangelists and entrepreneurs should invest in making awareness creation solutions to not to have babies.  Most of the work will be done mentally, when we plant these ideas of other options available rather than to have babies, and physical measures like sterilization will come down.

If you look at India broadly, 70% is rural and 30% is urban/semi-urban.  Solutions like ‘Make In India’ which are destined to boost the Indian economy, should focus on the rural areas where the unemployment is the most, and generate job opportunities, such that people don’t generate babies for labour.

And the urban folks have the adoption option.  The Ministry of Women and Child Development, India under the able leadership of Mrs. Menaka Gandhi, is streamlining the CARA process and making adoption easy and hassle-free.  If only people can reject the stigma surrounding ‘It’s not MY child!’, things will be a lot better.

So, good work is being done, but we need to invest in data gathering, sharing and awareness creation.  Will the India tech. entrepreneurs take note?


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Let there be no illusions! #India’s #population is still at dangerous levels.

There’s a recent article on India’s population slowing down based on fertility rate studies. There are views expressed that finally we can heave a sigh of relief.

No.

That study is based on only the fertility rate – which is the new production of babies.  The truth and the fact is that we have already crossed the thresholds of healthy population rate multiple times as compared to the world standards (around 850 people per sq.km.). We already know that we are over-populated. Don’t we see that in the public places – people swarming with no respect to each others’ space and property?  When was the last time when anyone who’s coming in front of you, considered your presence, slowed down, and let you walk, in India?  We are 1.3 billion in number – 17% of world’s population!

Our agricultural lands are decreasing – because of unavailability of labour (movement to cities), water sources are draining out – because of new storage points not being planned, our air and environment are getting more polluted – not to mention about the new manufacturing oriented development agenda.

If you look at the map in the above article, you will see that the fertility rates themselves are on the higher side in the central Indian states.  This is in addition to the already dangerous levels of population in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand. Literacy levels are low in these states, and they move to other states for labour. In fact, they generate babies for labour.

So, nothing for consolation. We need to act to take the message of dangers of over-population to the rural through grass-root workers of NGOs and social enterpreneurship companies – provide economic well-being and thus preventing them from generating babies for labour, and the message to adopt instead of generating new babies in cities.

And this has to done in a feverish scale. And bring down the child birth rate (incorrect to call it as fertility rate) to around 1 in the states mentioned above. Only then, we can breath, no pun intended.


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Which city should be the administrative capital of #Tamilnadu ?

I was just browsing the Google map of South India casually, and one thing that struck me was the geographic placement of the western and eastern ghats.

While the western ghats seem like a protective layer from the ocean entering the earth on the Kerala side, eastern ghats run suddenly through the middle and meet the western ghats near Mettupalayam. This invoked a series of thoughts in me.

I thought about the Tsunami that hit the South Eastern India in 2004. And how the water came inlands. In Chennai, I heard water had come deep inside till Mylapore households. Several coastal villages were destroyed and lives lost.

Though it was huge and unfortunate for human lives, In terms of magnitude as far as ocean is concerned, it seemed like the ocean was just licking its lips by its tongue. ‘No big deal’ it would say, ‘and wait till I really grab you like a crab holding its prey’. Now that would be really really disastrous for human lives.

If you look closely at the Google map of southern India, and especially the Tamilnadu coast and inlands, you would see that there is no protective layer of mountains on the eastern side. No stopping of water from entering deep into the land to cities like Chennai, Puducherry state, Trichy, Madurai and Tirunelveli. Don’t think water will not come that deep inside the land. It could – because the entire South East Asia starting from New Zealand through Indonesia till Burma is under seismic stress, and earthquakes are happening there on a hourly basis and huge Tsunamis are bound to happen. For more information, see this map: http://www.iris.edu/ieb/index.html?format=text&nodata=404&starttime=1970-01-01&endtime=2025-01-01&minmag=0&maxmag=10&mindepth=0&maxdepth=900&orderby=time-desc&limit=200&maxlat=12.68&minlat=9.30&maxlon=80.62&minlon=74.82&zm=8&mt=ter

The west side is arguably protected by western ghats from the ocean, and the chances of water entering huge scale into the land are less, and on the western side, there are no possibilities of large scale earthquakes, and thus less chances of Tsunamis.

This line of thinking also brought me into thinking what would be best place to live in Tamilnadu. If one has to live safe enough inland so that they are not affected by Tsunamis or the sea water level increase encroachments, it looked like the city of Erode is safest bet. Fair enough, the whole population of Tamilnadu cannot go and live in Erode, but then atleast the important aspects of running the state like administration can happen from that place – to provide emergency time care to all the other portions of the state during distress.

Erode is snuggled between western and some portion of eastern ghats so, it would be a long long time before any significant Tsunami or sea water erosion touches it. It is also next to Cauvery so sufficient water supply is there. It’s relatively close to all the three southern states of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh than Chennai – which is close only to Andhra Pradesh, which is an added advantage.  All the administrative offices, documents, safeguarding could be moved to Erode. Coimbatore is too close for comfort as it is very near the mountains.

If not today, in 50 or 100 years time, sea water is going to eat up much of the Indian south-eastern coast through Tsunamis and sea water level increase, and it would be naive to not to plan for that eventuality.


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India passport issuance renewal – a few thoughts

The passport application & renewal in India has become relatively hassle-free and straight-forward, thanks to the new online tracking system. I applied on 20th and got my passport on hand on 31st.  The process is transparent – and stage-by-stage, the progress is updated in the web-site at http://passport.gov.in . No stage takes more than a day or two. Police verification stage proceeds smoothly and fast if you go to the police station and give your details with the photocopies of I.D. proofs and the documents that they ask for.

I do have a lot of concerns in the forms and the physical logistics of the passport seva kendra. This is true for the passport seva kendra in Lalbagh, Bangalore, and passport office in Kormangala, wherever specified.

1) Annexure F asks for the applicant name followed by S/O information, using blanks. Nowhere it says in the application or the associated instructions that the applicant’s full name (First name followed by middle name followed by last name) should be entered in the applicant name. Most of us tend to enter just our first name, especially since the S/O is asked immediately after the first name. If we enter just the first name, it is not accepted by the officials.

2) Lalbagh PSV, Bangalore: The place where they issue the tokens and the enquiry area is pretty crowded. Officials don’t realise the fact that every applicant is carrying sensitive documents with them like I.D. proofs and the queue system does not work. Everyone tries to push and fall on each other. If anyone’s document is lost, it is a big problem for them.  On the other hand, there is plenty of space inside the seva kendra allocated for the first stage of application processing called the ‘A’ section in the right side of the office, which is not used at all. This space should be around 5000 sq.ft. Why not use this space for receiving the applicants in a well-managed fashion, in a queue or a token system, so that people don’t fall over each other?

3) The no. of people attending to the tokens in the ‘B’ and ‘C’ sections are just 4 people each on a typical day, wherease ‘A’ section has 20 people. This leads to ‘B’ and ‘C’ section applicants waiting for a long time to be served. On the day I went for the interview, 100 applicants were sitting for around 7 hours waiting to be served in ‘B’ and ‘C’ sections.  The tokens were being issued even after 4:30 PM, which lead to heavy crowd.  It was sad to see the Assistant Regional Passport Officer herself doing the ‘B’ and ‘C’ verifications on the day I went. Her role should be to monitor whether things are moving smoothly in the office and to take actions where required.  Token issuance should be stopped once the ‘B’ and ‘C’ section no. of applications become unmanageable. No. of officers processing the ‘B’ and ‘C’ section should be increased.

4) There is a wonderful token issuing software algorithm to manage the applicants category like women, children, senior citizens, tatkal and normal quota, but at the end of the day, we all feel the crunch as the algorithm’s speed does not match with the no. of officers serving the ‘B’ and ‘C’ section. Talk about smart machines managed by not-so-smart people!

5) In the Kormangala passport office, applicants are forced to stand outside without cover in the queue though some limited no. of shaded seats are available, but they are not sufficient.  The token issuance windows look like a foreign embassy where applicants are asked to stand outside their office for visa stamping ! (Everyone know the Chennai scene near Gemini flyover!). If India itself treats their citizens like this, how will other countries respect India’s citizens ?

5) Securities manning the exit gate at Lalbagh PSV are openly asking to write their name and mobile number in a form that solicits Tata AIG insurance. This clearly falls in the borderline of illegal marketing. I don’t know who pays the securities – the Ministry of External Affairs (or) Tata AIG. Action has to be taken on this front.

If space and the monitoring and servicing of crowd is done properly in passport seva kendra, things will move a lot faster and smoother. Will the Ministry of External Affairs look into these points and take action?