Low population growth in southern states of India

22/11/2009

The data on population of the southern part of India and the total population of India during the 50 years from 1951 is given below

Population in crores (10 million)

State 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Andhra Pradesh 3.11 3.68 4.35 5.36 6.65 7.62
Tamilnadu 3.01 3.37 4.12 4.84 5.59 6.24
Karnataka 1.94 2.36 2.93 3.71 4.50 5.29
Kerala 1.35 1.69 2.13 2.54 2.91 3.18
Pondicherry 0.03 0.04 0.05 0.06 0.08 0.10
Total – Southern India 9.44 11.06 13.58 16.51 19.73 22.43
Total – India 36.11 43.92 54.82 68.33 84.62 102.87
Share of Southern India in the total 26.14 25.18 24.77 24.16 23.31 21.80

The above table shows that in 50 years since 1951, the share of the population of southern 4 states and Pondicherry declined by 4.34% from 26.14% to 21.80%. The decline in the share has steadily been increasing since 1961. It will not be surprising if the 2011 census figures show a decline of as much as 2%. If the trend continues, which is likely, in the next 50 years, the population of the southern states could much go below 15% (if there is not large scale migration from northern states to southern states) leading to marginalization of the southern states in Indian politics (though not in the economy).


Democracy and Dynastic Rule

10/06/2009

When late Indian Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, of Congress Party gave important party positions to her son, opposition parties agitated against the attempt to bring in dynastic rule. At that time, Mrs. Gandhi asked why the country should lose the services of her talented son, merely because he was her son. She claimed that as an individual, her son had the right to do whatever he wanted to, whether to be in politics, business or agriculture. Since then, the states of Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, Orissa, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh have seen relatives of politicians – sons, sons-in-law and wifes – occupying positions of dignitary in party or government.

The latest instance is that of Chief Minister Mr. Karunanidhi of Tamilnadu appointing his son Mr. Stalin as the Deputy Chief Minister. There does not appear to be any opposition to this in the party. The D.M.K party seems to have made it a policy to nominate the wife or son or daughter of deceased members of parliament (MP) or members of legislative assembly (MLA) for elections in the mid-term poll.

In India there are innumerable cases of MPs, MLAs, State and Central Ministers and political party leaders grooming their relatives to succeed them. These politicians use the following logic: the son of an industrialist succeeds his father as the Managing Director or Chairman of the company. Why should not a politician’s son become a politician, that too with the acceptance of the people?

Dynastic rule agitates against the spirit of democracy. Even during the days of the Kings, the people would not have had any objections to the Prince succeeding his father. In some countries, while people want a particular leader to continue to be in power, the constitution of the countries have prescribed a limit of two or three terms for the President/Prime Minister. This is with a view protect democracy and to prevent dictatorship. In this spirit, it may be worthwhile to debate whether some restrictions should be placed on the children and other relatives of political leaders entering politics in order to protect democracy. Of course, after a few years – 3 to 5 years – of retirement of the leaders from politics, their relatives could get their right to participate in politics.


Centre for Chaning vaues in Indian society

22/05/2009

The intellectuals in India are generally very critical about the bureaucracy and the politicians. They have a soft corner for the common people, particularly the poor people. The common/poor people are described as innocent, honest, hardworking, simple and good people. The bureaucracy and politicians are part of the society and if the society is good, the bureaucracy and politicians cannot be bad.

An agricultural worker or a construction worker or any worker in the rural areas is never punctual. He or she finds several excuses to stop work during the day. He usually takes one full day for the work which he could do in 2 or 3 hours. A worker does not work alone. He wants at least one more worker with whom he can talk while working.

If the people in general are like this, how do we expect a government employee to be different from them? Intellectuals talk of corruption in government. How can we eradicate corruption in government when the common people are corrupt? They want money for their votes for any election. They volunteer to bribe to get undue favors.

If the government is to be honest and committed for the betterment of the people, high values should be inculcated the society. Some of the important values to be inculcated could be:

  • Punctuality
  • Commitment to work
  • Taking pleasure in work; shuning laziness
  • Neither giving nor taking bribes
  • Independence – avoiding where possible seeking help or favors from friends or strangers or government
  • Valuing society’s needs more than individual’s
  • Sacrificing more for society than for self
  • Developing a sense of cleanliness – not littering on the streets, keeping public places clean
  • Accountability at all levels, from worker to manager in factories, from Peon to Secretary and Minister in the Government
  • Dignity of labor – not to look down on manual work
  • Respect to the weak, children and women
  • Repayment of debt

There is a pressing need for non-governmental organizations in India which can propagate values in the society.


Tamilnadu, Tamil language and India

03/05/2009

Tamilnadu, like the other southern states of India, has been witnessing a slower growth in population than the rest of India. The result is that Tamilnadu’s population according to 2001 census accounts for only 6.04% of the country’s, down from 8.34% in 1951 census.

The number of Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) seats are based on the population of the state. Accordingly 46 seats were allotted to Madras (former name of Tamilnadu) state for the first Lok Sabha (1952-57). Subsequently, due to slower growth rate of population the number of seats allotted to Tamilnadu came down from 46 to 42, 41, 40 and finally to 39 which is 7.18% of the total number of seats in Lok Sabha. By now it would have come down to 32, but for an amendment to the constitution in 1976 to freeze the number of seats on the basis of 1971 census. But the period for which the seats were frozen is being extended and sooner or later, the demand for lifting the freeze, by an amendment of the constitution would come. Tamilnadu would finally get only around 6% of the total, which is 32. This may keep on decreasing as the time passes.

Till recently, Tamilnadu used to be treated as a major state and its views used to carry weight in the central government. If the population of the state and the number of MPs from the state is reduced, will Tamilnadu be continued to be counted as a major state?

Tamil is the 5th important language in India, in terms of the number of speakers. However, the share of Tamil speakers in the total population has come down from 6.88% in 1971 to 5.91% in 2001. It appears that the declining trend may continue particularly because of low population growth in Tamilnadu and the Tamil people’s preference to mix foreign words in their language. The 2001 census shows that the population growth in Tamilnadu was second lowest at 11% against national average of 21%. Despite its classical status, people around the world may not continue to regard Tamil as the “world’s oldest living language.”


Framing Foreign Policy

27/04/2009

The handling of the Sri Lanka issue in the recent past by the Government of India raises the following questions:

Should the central Government of India not take the inputs of the State Governments in framing and conducting its Foreign Policy on the ground that foreign policy is the responsibility to the central government according to the Constitution of India?

Is India a democracy where the wishes and aspirations of the people are to guide the policies of the government or a meritocracy in which merits of an issue as viewed by those considered to be meritorious alone should guide the government?


Sri Lanka

27/04/2009

Sri Lanka has objected to the advice of the US and UK asking it to stop the war with the LTTE, which is seeking a separate homeland – Tamil Elam – for the country’s Tamils. Sri Lanka argues that the US and UK are interfering in its internal affairs.

Consider the analogy of a spat in a neighbor’s family; when there is misunderstanding between members of a neighbor’s family, it is an internal affair and one should not interfere in it. If on the other hand, the quarrel in the neighbor’s family leads to blows, one cannot treat it as an internal matter and refrain from taking interest to stop the quarrel. And if the quarrel exacerbates to killing, it definitely cannot be treated as internal affairs. One not only has the right, but also the obligation to intervene and stop the quarrel. It is with this same sense that the killings of thousands in Sri Lanka cannot be seen as an internal matter, irrespective of the reasons leading to it.

At this juncture, one has to seriously think, whether any country, particularly the UK, which once ruled Sri Lanka and which handed over power to the local people, based on Ceylon Independence Act of 10.2.1948 of the Parliament of UK, and India which is geographically close to Sri Lanka and which faces the influx of refugees and political problems, can be silent spectators of destruction of a race just to respect the independence and sovereignty of Sri Lanka as demanded by the government of Sri Lanka. These countries which are concerned with the situation in Sri Lanka, should seek UN intervention to bring about peace there.


Coalition Government in India

13/04/2009

There is a view that for the economic development of India, the central government should be strong, meaning that the central government should have full majority and should have more powers than it has now. The growth rate of the economy during the first 30 years of independence when the central government was very strong under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, was less than 5%. However, when the central government was run by coalition parties in the recent past, i.e. when the central government was supposed to be weak, the growth rate of the economy has been very high – about 7% and in some years touching 9%. This growth was achieved from an even higher base than what it was during the rule of Nehru and Indira Gandhi.

It appears that in the coalition governments, all the ministers in the cabinet are motivated to work hard and deliver progress. This is logical because their reputation and future electability is at stake.

For a large and heterogeneous country like India, a two-party system is not at all good for the country. There are no two parties that can faithfully reflect the interests and aspirations of the diverse sections of the society and regions of the country.