How to cut birth rate in India? Watch TV, says minister

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How to cut birth rate in India? Watch TV, says minister
GET people to watch late-night TV – this will cut down the birth rate in India.
15 July 2009
GET people to watch late-night TV – this will cut down the birth rate in India.

That is the solution Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is proposing as a means to cut down population numbers, reported the Times.

India’s population stands at 1.2 billion, three times that of when it became independent in 1947.

Mr Azad has called for the country to redouble its efforts to bring electricity to all of its huge rural population.

‘If there is electricity in every village, then people will watch TV till late at night and then fall asleep. They won’t get a chance to produce children,’ Mr Azad said.

‘When there is no electricity there is nothing else to do but produce babies.’

Mr Azad said this was not an attempt at humour.

He said: ‘Don’t think that I am saying this in a lighter vein. I am serious. TV will have a great impact. It’s a great medium to tackle the problem… 80 per cent of population growth can be reduced through TV.’

The minister called on India’s television channels to provide high-quality programmes, arguing that enticing content would offer alternative late-night entertainment.

Professor Arvind Pandey, of the Indian Association for the Study of Population, agreed that television could help to slow population growth.

‘But it is the education and empowerment of women that is key,’ he told the Times.

Marry late, get award

Another of Mr Azad’s suggestions is to give people who marry late awards, reported the Times of India.

‘Only people who opt to marry at 30-31 should be awarded,’ he said though he quickly dismissed questions over whether he wanted the marriageable age to be raised to 30.

He said he was talking in terms of awards as incentives to such couples.

Mr Azad said information about family planning and its importance should be imparted at the grassroots level.

He found some support from former rural development minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh who said giving incentives to people opting for good family planning measures was the only option available.

Apart from this, strict vigilance and monitoring was also needed, he said.

Mr Azad also said population growth needs to be controlled as it will have a positive impact on ‘all Indians’, reported the Hindustan Times.

‘It is the duty of all MPs, ministries and of all individuals to help in curbing the population growth,’ he said adding that India makes up 17 per cent of the global population but takes up only 2.5 per cent of the total land available in the world.

‘We need to think that more children means more problems,’ Mr Azad said.

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