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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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India Population and social enterpreneurship

I have had the opportunities to attend the meets and presentations of social enterpreneurship companies. I have also had the opportunity to talk to a few leaders in this area of work.

Social enterpreneurship companies are a key factor in developing the people in the India’s rural. They work in several states, and they have access to the local NGOs and organisations who work on the ground at grass root levels.  So, I was musing how it would be to take the message of population awareness through these companies, make people see the perils of continuing population growth, and make people feel responsible in their own families.

As per the India Census 2011 data, a whopping 84% of India households have 3 people and above!  55% of households have 3-5 people. 25% of households have 6-8 people. 7% of the households have 9 people and above!

You might ask “Well, is it not a good indicator that we are living in a joint-family setup?”  Yes and No. because on the flip side, these people in turn have the potential to give birth to more babies. India’s average population density is around 800 people/sq.km, while the ideal is only 197 people/sq.km.

So, I thought I would give this information to the social enterpreneurship companies, so that they , start guidelines to the people who get loans on the rural areas that if the family generates more babies, no more loans!  Reward and punishment through economic enablement!

This concept is not new. In Bangladesh, Mohammad Yunus’s social work has responsible reproduction as a directive (among their 16 directives) for the families that get loan from their organisation. So, why not in India?

I met these enterpreneurship companies higher-ups recently. I talked to them about this to see how they feel.  The response was not surprising, but the excuses that they gave were hilarious!

One said, “Venkat, see population is not the problem.  It’s the corruption and pseudo-social work done by the politicians. So, I would suggest that people like you take a stand against corruption.”
I blinked and then wiped my eyes thoroughly.

Listen to another one. This enterpreneurship company recently had a Twitter chat to get their message out. I participated in the chat, and brought up the population issue, and if they can have directives on the families that they give loans to.  This person pointed me to some weird Niger related data, which showed that a lean population will affect social work! Excuse me?  Do we have a lean population in India?  Why not take a cue from Bangladesh, which is right next to our country and has same population issue as India?

I tried to get into their shoes and understand their line of thinking of why they are saying no. It struck me immediately.  For them, the more no. of members in a household, the more business they can do!  But, I think they are short-sighted.  The more no. of members, will decrease their ability to serve many other families.  Why not spread the loans out to families which are responsible with their no. of children, and help them grow?

So, this misconception that more babies means more business should be removed from their minds.  They can gently persuade the families in the rural to not to generate babies.  It should be an integral part of their social plan. Otherwise their work cannot scale.

Social enterpreneurship companies along with the NGOs are the only hope to spread the message of population containment in the rurals.

Hope they would do!


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Does #India have space for illegal immigrants?

A touchy, sensitive issue of the illegal immigration from Bangladesh, which has been raised several times. I am hoping that in the recent meet between Indian External Affairs minister and the Bangladesh Premier, this would have been brought up by the Indian minister.

Why is this a big problem? Because India has enough resource issues already in the Indian states surrounding Bangladesh, with average 5 times more population than the ideal according to this Wikipedia source. Out of the 8 Indian states near Bangladesh (Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram), the immediate neighbors of Bihar and West Bengal have very high population density above 1000 persons / sq.km (Note : ideal for India is 197 persons / sq.km).

Source: http://populationmatters.org/documents/overshoot_country.pdf

The problem gets compounded multi-fold, because once the illegal immigrants get into India, they can spread out to other states very easily because of the ubiquitous availability of Indian trains.

If you look at the Indian railway maps and the traffic, you will see that the corridor between Assam and NCR is the most densely traveled in the entire India.  This leads to illegal immigrants getting into states like Uttar Pradesh, which already has high population density of 828 persons / sq.km. Not only this, these people travel to states as far south as Kerala to do labor work. A typical example is the Guwahati-Trivandrum express (Indian railways train no. 12516), which I have personally traveled in from near Chennai to Kerala, and witnessed the migration (illegal or not). Mind you – not even ticket checking in even reserved compartments, forget about identification).

Doesn’t India have enough population to deal with, on its own?  Does India need this additional head-ache?

Some measures of eradicating this issue have been considered – like National Population Register and Aadhar card, which are good, and need to be fast-tracked.  The identification schemes should be implemented in the Indian states neighboring Bangladesh at the first place on priority, as that’s where the illegal immigration needs be contained.

There are challenges like lookalike of Bangladeshis with Indian Bengal people, cultural similarities, same language, which are impediments to effective implementation, but modern technologies like fingerprint, retina and genes identification should be implemented, and mere photo identification and signature has not proven sufficient!

Will the Home ministry take fast action before the problem gets out of hand? It’s a very necessary step towards containing India Population.

 

 


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Muhammad Yunus – the inspirator!

My friend, who works for RangDe had invited me to watch a video that was to be screened on the event of RangDe’s 6th birthday, on January 26th.

I was a bit familiar with RangDe’s work, and I have had the opportunity to interact with their people a couple of times. I was thinking probably it’s about the work that RangDe is doing in the areas of microcredit to needy people in India.

What I saw was totally incredible – it was a documentary video called ‘Bonsoi People’ by Holly Mosher, which talked about how Muhammad Yunus transformed the lives of millions of people in poverty-stricken Bangladesh. The model is ‘Teach a man to fish’ instead of giving them the fish. It totally made sense to me, as I think – enabling them with the little capital that they need to stand on their own legs will make them take their lives in their own hands and thrive.

A typical example was shown in the video – an enterprising mother, who started with a small loan – how she expanded her economic wellbeing by slowly – educating her child and making him to dream to become a fashion businessman, constructing a house, helping her neighbors by giving them work, etc.

This particular case in Bangladesh – The Grameen bank – for which Muhammad Yunus got the Nobel Price for Peace (Note: not for economics) – strongly displays the point that microcredit is not sucking money from people, but enabling them at grass roots. Muhammad believes that peace can be achieved only if there’s economic wellbeing among the masses – and it shows. His Grameen bank has touched the lives of millions of people in Bangladesh to take their lives in their own hands. 97% of them are women!

It was also interesting to note that Grameen Bank didn’t just stop by giving loans and then collecting them- they have a bank representative who becomes like a family member and cares for what’s happening on a day-to-day basis with their clients. If they have a problem, they try to address it. They give directives to the people on how to live – for example, they stress that having a strong house and roof is important for people – because if they get wet or infected, their health is affected and sometimes they even die.

They have 16 such directives. The one that touched me the most was ‘Limit the no. of babies that you have, so that you can care for them’. How true! How much I wish this message is passed on to the central Indian states where people are having babies just for labour! How are we going to spread the message of having less children, so that they can care enough for them, and also thus not contribute to the country’s burgeoning population! Yes, I feel, an attempt should be made.

India might be a different story from Bangladesh. The dynamics might be different, and the approach could be different to eradicate poverty, bring economic wellbeing, and then bring sense into them to make them not have more and more babies. But, the concept is the same. How it needs be made aware, communicated to the most economically backward rural, is what needs be worked on.

If you are interested in this area of work, please leave a comment with your contact information in the comments section, and I will get in touch with you!