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As India’s fertility rate falls, the window to the window to cash in our demographic dividend is getting shorter. Have we failed to leverage it?

The pandemic has underlined the need for policy interventions.

Urbanisation and the growth of cities in India have been accompanied by pressure on basic infrastructure and services like housing, sanitation and health. The 2011 Census of India reveals that the urban population of the country stood at 31.16 per cent. It indicates that there are about 4.5 lakh houseless families, a total population of 17.73 lakh living without any roof over their heads. Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh are the two states with an acute housing crisis.

The findings of the recently released NFHS-5 on population and health indicators have received extensive attention. The finding that there are 1,020 women for 1,000 men, an improvement over the last round of survey, has led to a wide-ranging conversation. One of the reasons for such extraordinary attention is the absence of Census 2021 to gauge sex ratio trends. The finding, of course, has implications for a range of other issues, especially those related to gender equality — they carry pointers for those wishing to gauge the success of government programmes that aim to remove gender-based discrimination. Some have also questioned the data. It is important to state that the correct interpretation of data has been lacking in both these cases.

An accurate count of mortality during pandemic is possible if a database is created on the basis of demographic principles and sound information, rather than epidemiological models based on suspect inputs and assumptions.

The manner in which Kerala treated its migrant workers during the COVID – 19 period attracted national attention. But why are they reluctant to return to their homeland during the lock down?

Keeping in mind the adverse impact of India’s rising population and its pressure on limited natural resources, the Population Control Bill, 2020, is to be tabled in the Upper House of Parliament soon.

This bill applies to all married couples qualifying a minimum age of 21 for the husband and 18 for the wife. Renewing the focus on the two-child policy, the bill proposes incentives for those with single child and disincentives for those having more than two children. Tabling such a bill seems ill-informed at a time when half of the Indian population is nearing replacement levels of fertility and there is rapid convergence of fertility levels between the rich and the poor, educated and the less educated as well as various other identities and attributes.

കോവിഡ് അതിന്റെ രണ്ടാം വ്യാപനം കഴിഞ്ഞു മൂന്നാം വ്യാപനത്തിലെ അതിമാരക ഡെൽറ്റ പ്ലസ് അണു പ്രസരണത്തിനു സാക്ഷ്യം വഹിക്കുകയാണ്. കോവിഡ് വ്യാപനവും അനുബന്ധ ആഗോള നിയന്ത്രണങ്ങളും തിരികെയെത്തിയ മലയാളി പ്രവാസി സമൂഹത്തിനു നിരവധി വെല്ലുവിളികൾ സൃഷ്ടിച്ചു കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നുവെന്നു പ്രവാസികളിൽനിന്നുള്ള വിവരശേഖരണത്തിൽ നിന്നും മനസിലാക്കാൻ കഴിഞ്ഞു. ഇത് പ്രവാസികളുടെ ജീവിതത്തെ എങ്ങനെ ബാധിക്കുമെന്നാണ് ഇന്റർനാഷനൽ ഇൻസ്റ്റിറ്റ്യൂട്ട് ഓഫ് മൈഗ്രേഷൻ ആൻഡ് ഡെവലപ്മെന്റ് ചെയർമാൻ ഡോ. എസ്. ഇരുദയ രാജനും തിരൂരങ്ങാടി പിഎസ്എംഒ കോളേജ് സാമ്പത്തിക ശാസ്ത്ര വിഭാഗം മേധാവി ഡോ. എസ്. ഷിബിനുവും പരിശോധിക്കുന്നത്.

While medical equipment may be obtained, skilled personnel are required to operate them. However, there is no credible resource that provides segmented data on personnel and infrastructure. In the absence of such data, tackling emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic becomes impossible.

For several decades, India has been a major exporter of healthcare workers to developed nations particularly to the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Europe and other English-speaking countries. And this is part of the reason for the shortage in nurses and doctors. As per government reports, India has 1.7 nurses per 1,000 population and a doctor to patient ratio of 1:1,404 — this is well below the WHO norm of three nurses per 1,000 population and a doctor to patient ratio of 1:1,100. But, this does not convey the entire problem. The distribution of doctors and nurses is heavily skewed against some regions. Moreover, there is high concentration in some urban pockets.