Three decades after China implemented its one child policy, there are emerging voices to scrap the plan as the state faces various social dilemmas.
Little would have Malthus thought that the predictions made by him almost two centuries ago would be considered so earnestly by China with the one-child policy having drastic repercussions on its social and economic realms.
The already plunging rate of fertility in China has now dropped beyond replacement level. This would mean a smaller number of working hands in comparison to the dependents. The demographists call this the Generation 4-2-1 meaning that an average couple will have to support four parents and one child. This would impact the saving-investment cycle and consequently take a toll on the economy. From the perspective of society, the sex ratio is becoming skewed. As couples are restricted to one child they prefer a boy to a girl. This is mainly due to the cultural preference for boys who are traditionally supposed to take care of parents in old age. Hence selective child birth and female abortion has become a stark reality in China.
There have even been cases of confiscation of children under this policy. Most of these children aregirls, as they comprise the lesser wanted segment of the newly fashioned contraceptive society ofChina. Experts on Chinese population claim that a market for brides is emanating in China, where young and bereft women are kidnapped and forced into marriages in regions where the vacuum in the female population is particularly significant.
Needless to say, the Human Rights activists have raised a big cry regarding the unethical by-effects of this policy in China. Conservatives claim that the one-child policy strongly undermines the fundamental right to life of every human being especially in the present context where the rate of population growth has become steadfast in China.
The champions of the one-child policy claim that the policy has led to better human resource development with quality education and healthcare available for a larger chunk of the population and has reduced the stress on their resources considerably. Though this idea might be true in the short run, it is bound to take a U-turn in the longer course of time as the diminished population of workers would not be able to sustain the immense resources of China efficiently, leading to an economic downturn. When the policy was introduced, it suited the constrained resources of China but with the present growth of population such restrictions are no longer required. Infact, it is high-time for China to suspend her one-child policy as the social and economic balances are getting manifested with each passing day. Otherwise, it should prepare itself to bear the brunt of its dire consequences!
Mridul Joshi, Ramjas College
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