Baby Boom Due To Lockdowns? Think Before Multiplying
Many restrictions have been imposed on the movement of people owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. But has it been really doable in such a densely populated country with many not-so-like-minded people? Leaks and slips are bound to happen, for sure. But such small ones, as they may appear, can also play havoc in a country of 1.37 billion people. I am not only concerned with the Indian case, but the world at large. Experts are even predicting a baby boom after the lockdown ends, as people are forced to stay indoors for a long period of time during the coronavirus crisis.
I remember, in 2011, when I was in Class VI, Indians were amazed and happy that the newborn to make the 7 billion population mark was an Indian. Well, it was for the convenience of calculation, but I felt then that the need of the hour was to control an exploding population than rejoicing a particular mark. I also pledged never to become a biological parent, be it naturally or artificially. Almost everyone is aware of the social, political, economic and environmental impacts of overpopulation but thinks, “What harm can just one more individual cause?” Because it so very important to carry their lineage forward even at the cost of depletion of limited resources. I wonder, if Thomas Robert Malthus had stated the famous Malthusian Theory as early as in the 18th century about the population increasing in geometric progressions and the means of subsistence, merely in arithmetic progressions, then why are we still ignorant? Even though he was proved wrong by the argument by social scientists that advancement in technology has increased the means of subsistence, yet the question remains, “Why do we need natural disasters like calamities and pandemics to control our population when we have the provision of family planning methods?”
There is a term called ‘cultural lag’ in sociology which refers to the gap created as a result of material culture moving much faster than the non-material culture. While family planning technology is easily available and accessible, it is some people’s mindset that it is for the glory of their lineage or against the wishes of God that they abstain from, or worse, oppose family planning. I don’t think it is a valid excuse. Saying so may hurt their religious sentiments, but are religious beliefs more important than the welfare of the most visible Goddess, our Mother Earth, which suffers from immense pressure and exploitation by her own offsprings?
Natural parenthood and begetting a son are so much sought after in a patriarchal society that people forget their own economic condition, let alone that of the nation, before going for a child. In a country where starvation is still a problem, it’s ridiculous to plan to multiply without caring about the consequences. Other than that, some couples tell that their own blood will look after them in their old age and that the one child policy puts burden on a single citizen to take care of both his paternal and maternal family members. I would rather say these days, even in a family of several siblings, no one cares about the ailing elderly parents and they are put in old age homes, where, ultimately, the unrelated take care of them. Regarding the burden on the single child, s/he can earn more income in the long run, if s/he is given the fullest opportunity of education by his parents, and hire another party, say a nurse, to cater to the needs of the senile. If we can pay a party for creating and carrying our genetic offsprings, thereby spending a huge sum of money, which could have been used in useful purposes then why not outsource our grandparents’ caretaking? Some would again contend that the single child would fail to learn how to accommodate and compete with others as s/he has a luxurious life. This may even hamper his initiative for trying for a good job if her/his life is already insured. No, in this case, the child accommodates with elders and the responsibility is only on her/his shoulders to provide for them. There is no other substitute.
It is better to adopt a child than to create a new one. Because, it is only the money of the infertility specialists, physicians and big establishments that you are increasing rather than your own. Yes, surrogacy may generate income for some sections of the underprivileged. If there is such a scarcity of jobs then invest your time in doing fruitful jobs like agriculture rather than waiting for foreign exchange through the wealth of rich foreigners who want you to carry their baby, on whom you have no legal right. And to make matters worse, the government has made the adoption process difficult but not imposed restrictions, forget taking measures against IVF/ surrogacy.
While the state faces numerous dilemmas and difficulties in solving the issues of its citizens, the only rational solution points towards eradicating the root cause, i.e., overpopulation. After all, it is the quality of life rather than its quantity that makes for a less competitive, more peaceful world.