Aug 09, 2004
Population control for a democratised India
Since the money is paid directly into an account, there are no exploiting middle-men or husbands who flick it for their drink. Most importantly, money in the hands of women helps improve nutrition, education and welfare of the family. PSF does not aim at zero-birthrate. Its goal is delaying pregnancies and limiting them to two in a life time. With that lack of radicalism and an attractive monetary incentive, it is no surprise that the pilot project has been a success. PSF has developed many markers to quantify the benefits of the programme.
Gupta says, all efforts by governments have failed so far, because they have refused to share with women, “any money [the nation] saved by their not producing children or delaying their births.” He says the central budgetary expenditure per person per year is about Rs.5000. With each woman producing an average of 3 children [ie Total Fertility Rate or TFR of 3], even robust growth in the economy will keep that allowance per person static. He suggests that if we simply gave away Rs. 5000 per year to women above 21 without a baby, we would drop the TFR and have resulting surpluses. In fact, he has calculated that we can even give away Rs.5000 per year to women above 25, with one child and still make it a profitable investment for the nation. PSF has the system to make that distribution, leak-proof. All that money would be going directly into family-level development of human resource, instead of government run family-planning programmes. In just 3 quarters, TFR fell from 3.45 to 1.3 in the PSF pilot area, though admittedly it’s a small sample size.
Obviously, the idea will not fly without political vision and leadership. Gupta has prepared a detailed proposal for the government to study. He has written to leaders in the establishment and regrets he has not heard in response. An unsurprising exception is President A P J Abdul Kalam who listened to a 40 minute presentation by Gupta and asked probing questions. Gupta is convinced he has the President’s mind-share.
How can you, as a reader of GoodNewsIndia support this promising idea? There are three things everyone can do. One, you can contribute to PSF in multiples of Rs. 5000 and encourage it to keep the idea running till it attracts wider attention. Two, you can volunteer your time or even better, form a group and implement the idea in another place with assistance from PSF. Three, you can evangelise the idea by sending this story to your friends, writing in newsgroups, to politicians and corporate bosses. Nothing, however good, can take-off without our participation.
Project Small Family