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Mr Mitra on the Population Policy

Please help make the Manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!
Barun Mitra's use of the term "a war on people:" may be exaggerated but he
is right on substance.   The so-called population policy seems to have been
crafted by engineers and demographers, not economists e.g. Bauer or Simon.
The population of India is NOT, repeat NOT, a problem.  It reflects improved
health and other good  things leading to higher life expectancy... it is not
that people are breeding more, it is that they are dying less...   Imagining
population to be a problem is a typical rich/city prejudice against
poor/rural folk, and it is insidious because it distracts from real problems
and makes policy makers believe they are actually doing something useful.

Subroto Roy.

-----Original Message-----
From: Liberty Institute <liberty@giasdl01.vsnl.net.in>
To: bmitra@bigfoot.com <bmitra@bigfoot.com>
Date: Thursday, February 24, 2000 5:48 PM
Subject: Population Policy: A war on people

>Dear Friend of Liberty:
>Last week, the Government of India announced a 16-point population policy
>aimed stabilising the population by 2045. The policy also proposed freezing
>any redrawing of parliamentary constituencies to reflect the population
>shifts for another 25 years.
>Following commentary was one of three carried by The Economic Times in the
>Perspectives page on this population policy. In it I point out that a
>population policy is a war on the people, as it is basd on the untenable
>premise that sovereign people in a democratic republic have the right to
>elect their own government, but the same person is incapable of deciding on
>the number of children in his or her family.
>Comments and suggestions are welcome. If you are receiving this mail
>inadvertently, please let us know and we will remove you from this list.
>Thank you.
>Barun Mitra
>The Economic Times - Perspectives: Do we need a population policy?
>21 Feb 2000
>War on the people
>by Barun Mitra
>For fifty years we have been inundated with policies on everything from A
>to Z -- on agriculture, economic, educational energy, environment, health,
>industry, labour, media, social, trade, urban, wildlife, and many others.
>We believed that our teeming masses are simply incapable of deciding for
>themselves and needed the state to tell them what to do.
>The result of this endeavour has been to perpetuate poverty, and severely
>curtail choices and opportunities for most of our people. Clearly, we need
>a break from this plethora of policies.
>But in India, old habits die hard. Now the central government has announced
>a new population policy. However, by linking the issue of population with
>issues such as delimitation of electoral constituencies, the policy has
>underscored the political nature of this effort. If implemented, this will
>unleash a new war on the people.
>If there is one thing that has worked in India over the past fifty years,
>it is the basic democratic institution. Clearly, a freeze on delimitation
>is an attempt at disenfranchising the people, because it denies the people
>the right to choose a representative for themselves. The failure to even
>rationally redraw the electoral constituency and make it more equitable in
>each state without changing the total number of seats allocated to each, is
>a reflection of this. How can one justify constituencies such as Karol Bagh
>(5 lakh voters) and Outer Delhi (30 lakh voters) in the capital itself?
>It is said that delimitation will penalise some southern states that had
>been more effective in reducing their birth rates and reward some of the
>northern states despite their low performance on this count. This is quite
>ludicrous. No one can suggest that the latter deliberately failed in order
>to secure a larger share of seats in Parliament. These states have
>consistently performed worse than many others on many counts.
>By this logic, the population policy seems to endorse the very high birth
>and death rates that characterised much of human history, because under
>that system too the population hardly grew. The policy also ignores the
>effect of our misguided economic policies that have led to one of the
>lowest rates of urbanisation, and yet the few urban metros are attracting
>migrants from all over the country. The stranglehold the state has had in
>urban development, the zoning and rent control and land ceiling laws that
>have virtually eliminated affordable low cost housing for the poor and made
>the growth of slums inevitable. We are seeking to eliminate the people and
>in effect disenfranchise those who are voting with their foot in a
>desperate attempt to improve their own lot.
>This issue also highlights the opposite responses the private and public
>sectors evoke towards the people. In an open market dominated by private
>players, a rise in demand for goods and services are not a problem but an
>opportunity to innovate and expand. For the public sector, however, people
>are the problem. An increase in demand exposes the inefficiencies of the
>public sector and creates scarcity where none might exist. How peaceful
>would the life of our policy makers and planners be if only there were no
>people that they had to serve.
>The population policy has highlighted the paradox that is India. A
>democratic republic that allows the people the right to choose their own
>government, and yet that government seeks to erode the freedom of the
>people to decide what to buy in the marketplace, where to stay, or how many
>children to have. In this era of liberalisation and globalisation, a
>population policy is an even greater anomaly. People are the ultimate
>resource. It is the free people who alone have ability to convert all other
>matter in to useful resources, and to see every problem as an opportunity.
>Instead of trying to enter the bedroom, let us get the state off the back
>of our people.
>RING IN LIBERTY IN Y2K!! Happy New Year
>Barun S. Mitra E-Mail: bmitra@bigfoot.com
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