It is well known that population is one of the biggest and most difficult problems before India's economic development and in raising the quality of life of its people. Our efforts in this regard spread over more than five decades in educating the people about seriousness of the matter have created only a small dent, and that too in the attitude of the educated youth, generally living in the urban areas.
The National Policy Statement on Population issued by the Central Government sometime back has drawn attention to many aspects of the problem but not all. Two issues belonging to the latter category are being referred to in the present article. One concerns the entire population and the other is largely related to the rural areas and the urban slums. The suggestions in both cases are aimed at restricting the population.
The policy should lay adequate emphasis on raising the social status of child adoption and its popularisation. In India, adoption of a child has not been considered to be very prestigious. It should be upgraded to become an act of pride and honour, as also an act of social and national service. A parallel in this regard is Mahatma Gandhi's outstanding success in raising the status of khadi, which was earlier lying very low as a poor man's cloth.
For well-known reasons embedded in the socio-economic and religious background of India, practically every couple, whose first child is a daughter, wants a son. Many others, whose first child is a son, want a daughter for emotional and other reasons. In all such cases, the couple can be well advised to adopt a child of their choice instead of trying to produce one through the natural process. Fulfillment of their wish cannot be guaranteed through the natural process. Also, through adoption, the couple can select a normal and healthy child, which again cannot be assured through the natural process of production.
Further, through adoption, even those couples can have a child who are unable to produce one due to some anatomical, physiological or other deficiency in either of the two, husband or wife. Still further, those couples, who are fit to produce a child but do not wish to do so, can also adopt a child if and when they so desire. Through adoption, the bachelors or spinsters can also fulfill their desire to have a child.
If the practice of adoption is widely accepted and acted upon, it will reduce the evil of secret abortion. It may also reduce the opposition to the national programme of family planning on religious grounds. The child welfare organisations will be willing to take over the unwanted children for adoption by needy persons. Some children for adoption are already available with various social service and respectable NGOs in different parts of the country like, for example, S.O.S. Children's Villages of India and Helpage India in Delhi. Children for adoption would also be available with organisations set up or sponsored by the child welfare or corresponding departments of the various State governments. Availability of children for adoption should increase with popularity of adoption and other factors such as growth of assertive individualism among the adolescents and youth.
One of the considerations for successful popularisation of lawful adoption of a child is to remove the difficulties and hassles, if any, in the existing law(s) on the subject. This can be done by the Government alone, and the same should be taken up. The other issue relates to education about family planning required to be given to the vast masses of illiterate and semi-literate persons, particularly those living in rural areas and urban slums.
While the on-going effort for their awareness and orientation through the media and other means should continue, it needs to be supplemented by taking a clue from what we did to educate our farmers in adopting the new agricultural practices at the start of the agricultural revolution in our country. Our experts went to the farmers and demonstrated to them benefits of the new practices in their own fields instead of advising them verbally. It needs to be specially noted that in the case of family planning there is an additional psychological factor of shyness in talking about and using the various methods and aids which we have developed and are publicising to limit one's family.
It is, therefore, necessary that, with the help of the primary health centres, other medical and public health establishments, and the expanding machinery of the panchayati raj governance, the members of the above-mentioned target population should be brought together in small groups sex-wise for a private meeting in closed rooms. An instructor, properly trained in family planning and belonging to the same sex as the group, should motivate the participants of her or his group in family planning and explain to the audience the significance of the meeting.
It is very necessary that he or she uses only the local dialect or language. The instructor should then seek willing attendance of the participants and allow those, who are unwilling, to leave. After this, the instructor should explain with the help of suitable visual, audio and other aids the relevant methods, etc., which can be used in successfully limiting the size of the family. The instructor should also inform the group about places from where the pills, condoms, etc., depending upon the sex of the particular group, can be obtained and offer help in procuring them.
This article was published in Dailypioneer. I liked the idea of encouraging adoptions. Really then there will be no street kids.