Demographic Transition: An Asian Perspective, Rajiv Balakrishnan (ed.), Konark Publications Pvt Ltd, Pp 571 (HB), Rs 1200
This book is structured around a seminar organised on demographic transition from high to low mortality and fertility and as seen present at various stages in developing countries of the world. The author says that this in turn has led to a dramatic change in the population growth. This means the needs have to be met of an ever-growing population. Though the increase in the number of births constitute a growing workforce and yield a ‘demographic dividend’, the quality of the workforce in terms of health and education continues to be a major obstacle to development. Thus, apart from containment of population, the efficacy of government interventions and participatory development are major factors needing attention.
The book addresses some of the key demographic challenges before Indians against this backdrop. It highlights the demographic trajectories, but also issues like women’s reproductive health, which in turn leads to issues of women’s autonomy with respect to decisions about the reproductive burdens they will have to bear, the role of education and the mass media in bringing about a shift to the small family norm, decentralisation to facilitate better health and family planning services and so on.
The problem of overpopulation and high birth rates have been continuing but what is a new challenge is that of population ageing, which occurs when longevity goes up due to mortality decline and the young age population shrinks relatively to the population of elders due to fall in the birth rate. India is a country where population ageing is occurring at a low level of resources, thus increasing the burden of the elderly care which is likely to reach staggering proportions in the years to come.
The author-editor, Rajiv Balakrishnan, in his paper presents the profile of demographic history and how decline in mortality is due not to improvement in health or resistance to disease or extensive pubic health interventions, but due to disease surveillance which has nipped in the bud the spread of epidemics, to famine relief measures facilitated by spread of rail and road networks, to immunity of people long subjected to debilitating diseases, to government-sponsored innovation programmes and the like.
Tulsi Patel, a sociologist, adds to our understanding of the factors that keep fertility high and the factors that influence curtailment of child bearing and these are mostly decline in infant mortality, urbanisation, spread of literacy, role of mass media, the family planning programme, etc. In this respect, Nirmala Murthy finds that programme management for delivering reproductive and health services has helped in the effective use of contraceptives. Komila Parthi, in the study of the health of women in Punjab, talks of the powerlessness and the culture of silence that prevents women from being more demanding. Carol Vlassoff and her colleagues, in her study of Gujarat, affirm that women’s health here is often neglected in relation to men’s. Irudaya Rajan and Sabu Aliyar show the onerous care-burden on the young that ageing will impose in the future, especially in Kerala where longevity increases and mortality declines. Finally support for the elderly is extensive due to the joint family system in South India, as shown by Rajan and Aliyar, John Knodel and Chanpen Saengtienchai and John C. Caldwell and P.H. Reddy and Pat Caldwelll, Rajagopal Dhar Chakrabarti as also Mussaddeq Chowdhury and Jeffrey Nugent. Extensive support does not necessarily mean that the elderly receive sufficient support and care. Strategies have to be devised to help the elderly lead a more productive life. P.Thulasi Bai, a retired civil surgeon, shows that even in a situation of paucity of resources, the need is to provide critical and specialised low-cost medical inputs to improve the quality of the life of the elders to the point of even restoring them to doing productive work.
Overall the book presents an integrated picture to tell the story of demographic transition in an Asian perspective.
(Konark Publishers Pvt Ltd, 206 First Floor, Peacock Lane, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi-110 046; [email protected])
Symbols of national heritage
Rashtriya Chetna ko Chunanauti (Hindi), Kuldeep Chand Agnihotri, Gyan Ganga, Pp 160 (HB), Rs 200
For any nation or culture, its symbols are of prime importance. With the destruction of these identity symbols, the nation’s existence becomes vague and the form of its nationalism starts changing. In the modern era, the style of attacking another country has changed slowly and gradually. In the ancient times, the stronger opponent would launch an attack through the army and emerge victorious. This was one way of changing the number of voters also. But in the modern era, when the hegemony of Western powers is increasing in world politics, they have changed their strategy and taken to spreading cultural democracy through crooked means and enticements.
The author traces the country’s history since the times when Muhammad Bin Qasim launched an attack on India to destroy its nationalism. Then came the rulers of the Sultanate and Mughal period who made attempts in the same direction. The Islamic rulers couldn’t touch the heart of the Indian society. On the one hand, the rulers did their best to destroy the Indian society and on the other, the Church through the Census tried to alter the demography of India by launching a violent movement and which is continuing till this day.
Influenced by Western growth and development, the current leaders of India are ignoring India’s basic identity and trying to make the Hindus stand in the dock among whom there is no place for independent thought. It is because of the conspiracy of these forces to alter India’s identity and destroy its nationalism.
Saffron colour, the cow, the banyan tree, etc have become symbols of Indian nationalism and the RSS has started emerging as the symbol for fighting against destruction of Indian identity. Since the past few years, some external and internal forces in the country have launched a movement to defame India’s identity symbols and attack on RSS has become a part of their campaign. The author says that since the time Sonia Gandhi has come to rule over the Congress, the latter’s role and objectives have undergone a change and it is she who is trying to associate the word saffron with terrorism and made it the symbol of the party’s new policies.
The author says that now a wind of change in blowing across the country and the promotional centre for such jehadi activities is Pakistan and its campaign is being financially supported by countries of the Middle East. The need is for all nationalist forces to join hands and confront the enemy. The leaders in India are raising the bogey of saffron terrorism for appeasing the Muslims.
The Himalayan Research Institute, Hamirpur organised two seminars, one in Delhi and the other in Chandigarh respectively to discuss the attacks on the Sangh and the author of this book has not only expounded his views in a comprehensive manner but also pointed towards the dangers arising due to increase in jehadi terrorism.
(Gyan Ganga, 205-C Chawri Bazaar, Delhi – 110 006)