Prof Dr Ilias Ali, noted surgeon of the North-east and social cum demographic activist said on Thursday it is a well-established fact that women education plays a pivotal role in curbing population growth.
Dr Ali was speaking as the chief guest at a seminar held on the occasion of International Women’s Day organized jointly by Nabajyoti College Teachers’ Unit, Kalgachia in collaboration with Assam College Teachers’ Association (ACTA) at Kalgachia in Assam’s Barpeta.
“India’s population in 1900 was a mere 25 crores and in 1947, it was 37.5 crores. By 1965, the figure rose to 50 crores. Since then, there has been a stark increase in the population, which reached 102.7 crores by 2001. In other words, in 36 years, there was more than a two-fold rise. Ironically, in the last 65 years, between 1900-1965, there was an increment of only 25 crores. India’s landmass is just 2.4 per cent of the planet’s total landmass. Such a small fraction of land is being forced to sustain a startling 17.5 per cent of the world’s total population. This indeed is alarming. India is the second most populous nation after China and is set to overtake China by 2024,” Dr Ali remarked.
Speaking of the role of women education on population control, Prof Ali said, “An increase in the literacy rate among women tends to lower the fertility rate to a great extent than a similar increase in the education of men. Studies in Latin America have shown that women who have completed primary education, bear an average of about two children, fewer than those who have not. The average fertility rate of a rural woman without any formal education was found to be six children. Schooling tends to delay the age of marriage for girls, and thus reduces their total possible number of childbearing years.”
Dr Ali further added that in many developing countries, women who completed secondary school bear almost two children fewer than women who complete primary school only.
In a study conducted in Yemen revealed that the number of babies that were born to mothers who completed secondary school was nearly two on an average.
Addressing the attending students, teachers and other dignitaries, Prof Dr Ali lamented that Muslims, the largest minority community in the country, are seriously lagging in terms of most of the human development indicators and it is primarily due to lack of adequate women education.
On the other hand, this curse is also responsible for the spiralling population growth among Muslims.
He hoped that the Muslim community and the government will pay special attention in regards to education of Muslim girls.
Speaking on underage marriage, Dr. Ali said, “A worrisome cause for population growth is underage marriage. Though legally banned, it is still prevalent in certain parts of the country. Teenage marriage is not only fuelling the population rise, but is also increasing the maternal and infant mortality rates. In Assam, particularly among the Muslims of the riverine areas, the incidences of child marriage are around 50 per cent which reflects ignorance, illiteracy and economic and social backwardness of the community.”
He asked the gathering to join hands in fighting against this social curse.
The seminar was presided over by Prof Ataur Rahman.
Dr Sajahan Ali Ahmed, the Principal of the college, Dr Kishor Kumar Deka, vice president of ACTA, Dr Jagaddish Sarmah, president ACTA (Barpeta zone), Dr Samiran Sarmah, secretary ACTA (Barpeta zone), Dr Nazrul Islam, SDM & HO, Kalgechia PHC and Dr Hasmat Ali, Deputy Superintendent of Barpeta civil hospital also spoke on the occasion.
The seminar was attended by students, teachers, ASHA workers, social activists and media persons of the districts.