Friday, 7 October 2011

Geography Picture of the Week - Kerala churches rewarding big families

I realise that this week's Geography Picture of the Week post is not particularly centred one specific picture but I just read this story online and thought that it may be of some interest and, as an added bonus, it is related to human geography and links can be made to our current module.....

Hindu groups have said the two child policy should be imposed as
 there are limited resources
It seems like ages ago that we studied the AS population module but do you remember that really interesting case study of Kerala, in India, that we learnt about. Well I am guessing that it is probably quite a good case study to know a little bit about for this current module - here is the basics incase you have forgotton.......

KERALA :- Kerala is a really good case study to know about as it is an anomally to the general pattern between population and development indicators in LDC's/MDC's and it also demonstrates the spatial differences within countries themselves.
  • Kerala is India's longest lived, healthiest, most gender-equitable and most literate region with one of the best education systems. The state's basic human development indices are roughly equivalent to those in the developed world and the state is substantially more environmentally sustainable than many of the countries in Europe and North America. A survey conducted in 2005 also concluded that Kerala was the least corrupt state in India. Although Kerala is a poor state with a GDP of around $11000, it has very good demographic indicators........
    • Population = 31.8 million
    • Life expectancy = 73.3 years
    • IMR = 20/1000
    • Literacy rate = 96.6%
    • CBR = 14/1000
    • CDR = 6.4/1000
    • TFR = 1.7
  • WHY? 90% of the people own the land they live on, and each family can only have a maximum of 8 hectares. In 1957 a communist government was elected to power and fair price shops and ration cards were introduced to ensure that everyone could afford to eat. This government has a strong commitment to female education and a participatory democracy in which; every 10 years, 10% of the population are invited to meeting to express their views and help make decisions on how to take Kerala forward.

So, what is happening in Kerala at the moment that is so interesting. Well, several Christian parishes, Catholics and Muslim groups in this developed state have started to offer incentives to couples who have more children, with one church reportedly offering 10,000 rupees ($200) for a couple's fifth child. Now in a country with a huge population that is only projected to continue to grow, passing that of China's by 2030 whilst having massive problems with water security which are only likely to worsen as a result of global climate change and with sea level threatening to displace millions; to me this seems like a really strange idea - trust me after spending 10 minutes in an Indian city you will fully appreciate why the last thing this country needs is more people!

The move by local churches comes after a report submitted to Kerala's chief minister proposed imposing a strict two-child policy. So, why excatly are the churches feeling the need to encourage couples to have more children? Some feel it is because the church groups are concerned about the dwindling numbers of Christians in the region; with the lastest censensus showing numbers are in steady decline and risk slipping below 18%. This is probably not really an excuse to pay people to have more children in a country that greatly struggles to provide for its already huge population. If you think back to when we learnt about population policies, you will probably remember all the disadvantages and negatives of the Chinese 'one child policy and many of the same opinions are being aired in Kerala by religious groups, prominetly the view that it is solely a personal decision on how many children a couple should have and consequently the church feels that any finanical punishments placed on couples for having more than two children should not prevent them from doing so and that the ruling encroaches upon the right to religious freedom. These rewards have not be announced by the church statewide yet but many individual parishes are choosing to other incentives in some form, including free treatment and the parish run hospitals. 

Although to many families these incentives will look rather appealing the punishments recently recommended by the panel for the Commission of Rights and Welfare of Women and Children, which include 3 months in prision or a 10,000 rupee fine for any father expecting his third child, are probably harsh enough to put many off.

The Hindu United Front, who strongly support the introduction of this policy, believe that "the two-child norm should be strictly enforced in India as we have limited resources to share among us"and they are definetly right about the country having limited resources when considering its population size!

Let me know what you think! Should a population policy be enforced in India? Does its forever increasing population help or hinder its development?

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