China and India are the two countries that have the highest population in the world. Both countries have realised that family planning and population control had to happen around the 1950’s for India and the 1970’s for China. This essay will seek to compare and contrast China and India, focusing on what the major problems facing both are, why have they both had to implement policies regarding population control, and the long-term and short-term effects that these policies have on the two countries.
The major problem concerning China is over population. Due to overpopulation, the demand for energy to light every house and for petrol to fuel every car is becoming too great. With added pressure of providing for the people, more natural resources and fossil fuels are used up. There is also a shortage of jobs. China has a population of 1.31 billion people. In 2003, the total of number of unemployed people in China was 744,320,000. The World Bank said that the total unemployment level was close to 10%, though that is only the number of people who are registered as unemployed. The real figure would be substantially greater. China is faced with, because of overpopulation, lack of space. Approximately 137 people live on each square kilometre of China’s territory, China ranking 71st on the worlds list of the countries with the highest population densities.
The world average is 43 people per square kilometre, making China three times the average figure. Also a pressing issue is the state of poverty in China, (due to the recent focus on a new type of capitalism, there are marked contrasts between rich and poor). The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation states that there is ample food to feed the population. The problem lies then in how effectively the food is distributed. There is also a severe lack of adequate education. In recent years, literacy rates have drastically decreased. Illiteracy for persons aged 15 and over for 1990 was 22.2% and for 2000 it was 8.7%. In 1964 the illiteracy rates for college and university were 0.5%, and in 1990 they were 1.6%.
India faces much the same problems, though as the world’s largest democracy (population-wise); the way that the government goes about everyday things is quite different. Contrary to China’s system of ‘equally’ dividing wages and food, the Indian population have to work for themselves. As with China, India is suffering the brunt of overpopulation, shortage of jobs, lessening of natural resources, decreasing literacy rates, and a population density level rivalling China’s.
After the Chinese Cultural Revolution, once Mao Zedong had assumed power, he introduced a Five Year Plan that ran from 1958-1963 which was known as The Great Leap Forward. This vision failed and resulted in widespread starvation, being the world’s worst man-made famine. The death toll is estimated 30 million. Mao’s following philosophy was that “the more people, the stronger we are”. Families were encouraged to have as many children as possible, and an uncontrolled population boom resulted. China did not have the economy or the resources to support such a large population.
Once Mao’s reign finished, the new chairman, Den Xiaoping, introduced “birth planning” to China, launching the law which stated that there can only be one child per couple, with some exceptions, such as if the first child was disabled and/or a girl, or if the couple lived in a rural area. This policy has been implemented in several ways. Incentives for only having one child occur, such as free education, better health care, and promotions at work and bigger houses. On the flip side, disincentives occur for people who are adamant on having more than one child. Such disincentives include demotions and fines, which can be four times a yearly wage. Forced sterilizations and mandatory abortions occur, in some cases as late as 8 months gestation. Since China is a communist country, community pressure is strong, not only pressure from the community but also pressure from the government. This pressure makes having one child seem to be a better option. National advertising campaigns encouraging the “one child policy” are commonplace.
Around the 1950s, India was the first country to officially establish a family planning program. This program made birth control information to become more readably available. India’s government saw big families leading to continued poverty, and poverty hindering economic progress. Just as with China, India saw foresaw that the country would not be able to feed the masses of people, and the country would eventually use up all of its resources and the population would ultimately breed themselves out of existence. Up until the 1970’s, the government used no aggressive force to promote the use of contraceptives or sterilisations. They increased medical care and access to hospitals, and provided education for family planning. In the 1970’s the government declared India to be in a “state of emergency”. Medical workers went out into the slums and poorer regions of India and forcibly sterilised women. The medics were rewarded for how many women they were able to sterilise.
An effect that the one child policy has had on China is the improvement of the economy. When there was a larger population than there is now, the economy was suffering. Since the one child policy has had time to take effect, the population has shrunk and the economy can support the population. A negative effect that this policy has had on the Population is that there is an uneven balance of boys and girls. Female infanticide is more frequent, as are female abortions, because it is the common thought that males and prized more highly than females.
Another problem faced is the “little emperor” generation. This generation is comprised of spoiled children that their parents have over-indulged. It is worried that this generation will have poor social communication and cooperation skills since they are the only child at home. There is also the “One-Two-Four” problem. This long-term effect says that one adult child supports two parents and four grandparents. This leaves the largest group dependant on retirement funds, the state of the family for support. To combat this problem, a couple who are both only children are allowed to have two children.
The Indian population may have recognised the seriousness of their actions on the environment and their economy, but they can still do more. The government should follow China’s suit, put their foot down and make a laws about having one child per couple. It would be fair to say that India does not have a law, just advice. So far, the country’s policies have seemed to been ineffective. In the next halve a century, India will have overtaken China is the population ladder and it may seem like there is no stopping it. Actually, India’s rate of population is dropping. In 1991 India’s annual population growth rate was 2.15% and by 1997 this figure dropped to 1.7%. This means that India is actually making progress in population control.
India and China are similar in their preference for sons, and it is so deeply ingrained in their culture that it is impossible to remove. Sons are more highly regarded because not only do they help working on the family farm, but they support their parents in their old age. Similar views are held by the Chinese, where sons are considered luckier than daughters. In Chinese culture, the sons take care of his parents in their old age and the daughter looks after her in-laws in their old age. Since there is such a desire to have sons, similarly to China, the Indian population has a lack of females. Slightly higher female infant mortality rates are due to abortions of female foetuses, and female infanticide.
The main difference between India and China is that India is the world’s largest Democratic country, whereas China is the world’s largest Communist country. Through looking at what the government has tried to do with controlling the birth rate, it is clear that China is much more effective on account of they are a communist country and that effects how they can go to any lengths without having the fear of losing popularity for since it is a communist country, there is no voting. India on the other hand cannot use as much force because the government has to be voted in by the people.
In conclusion, China, as the world’s largest communist country, is able to enforce forced sterilization, and forced abortions, without fear of being voted out or losing popularity. This, in a way is more effective than India, whose democratic approach is ineffective because it is not enforced as strictly. If China had of continued under Mao’s philosophy of “the more people, the stronger we are”, and had not put in place population control, China would have used up all of their natural resources and would not have been able to support their crippling population. So is the same with India. If India continues to grow at the rate that it has been growing, India will suffer environmentally and economically. India is similar to China in their few that sons are better than daughters, and female infanticide and female abortion.
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