News Analysis 17 Sept, 2022

17 Sep, 2022


1. The consequences of declining fertility are many
2. Remember Periyar with a pledge to embrace dissent
3. India’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution to combat climate change

1. The consequences of declining fertility are many.


Theme : Population and Associated Issues.


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  1. Context

  2. Total fertility rate (TFR) & Replacement Level Fertility (RLF)

  3. Benefits of Achieving RLF

  4. WPP 2022 Findings Related to India.

  5. Indian Scenario

  6. Advantages & Disadvantages

  7. How to deal with Decline in Fertility?


Context :
Global population, in terms of numbers, has been steadily increasing — some reports suggest that it could grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030 — there is an interesting aspect to this: average global fertility has been consistently declining over the past 70 years.


Total fertility rate (TFR) : 

  • Total fertility rate (TFR) in simple terms refers to the total number of children born or likely to be born to a woman in her lifetime if she were subject to the prevailing rate of age-specific fertility in the population.

  • TFR of about 2.1 children per woman is called Replacement-level fertility. TFR lower than 2.1 children per woman — indicates that a generation is not producing enough children to replace itself, eventually leading to an outright reduction in population.


 Replacement Level Fertility (RLF) :

  • Replacement level fertility is the level of fertility at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next.

  • In simpler terms, it denotes the fertility number required to maintain the same population number of a country over a given period of time.

  • In developed countries, replacement level fertility can be taken as requiring an average of 2.1 children per woman.

  • In countries with high infant and child mortality rates, however, the average number of births may need to be much higher.

  • RLF will lead to zero population growth only if mortality rates remain constant and migration has no effect.



Benefits of Achieving RLF :

  • RLF helps ensure greater food security.

  • The reduced demand for food would in turn lessen agri- culture’s impact on the environment.

  • It would also likely lead to economic benefits through a “demographic dividend.”

  • Finally, achieving replacement level fertility would yield significant social benefits?especially for women.


World Population Prospects (WPP-2022)  Findings Related to India :

  • India’s growth rate stood at 2.3 % in 1972, which has dropped down to less than 1% now.

  • In this period, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) or the number of children each Indian woman of reproductive age has during her lifetime has come down from about 5.4 to less than 2.1 now. This means that Indians have attained the Replacement Level Fertility (RLF) Rate, at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next.

  • Fertility rates have been declining, so have mortality rates with increased access to healthcare and advances in medicine.

  • Populations of 0-14 years and 15-24 years will continue to decline while those of 25-64 and 65+ will continue to rise for the coming decades.

  • This reduction of premature mortality for successive generations, reflected in increased levels of life expectancy at birth, has been a driver of population growth in India.


Indian Scenario :

  • The Indian setting is no different, with its fertility rate falling below the replacement level for the first time to 2.0 in 2021, according to the latest National Family Health Survey 2021 (NFHS- 5). The rate has dipped 10% in just five years.

  • At the time of Independence, India’s fertility rate (TFR) was 6 per woman, and it had taken 25 years to reach 5, with the government launching the first ever family planning programme in the world in 1952.

  • India’s fertility further declined to 4 in the 1990s when Kerala became the first State in India to have a fertility rate below replacement level; slowly, other States followed suit.

  • As reported by the NFHS 2021, only five States have a fertility rate above the replacement rate: Bihar, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Manipur.

  • The steady dip in fertility rates has been explained as an effect of increased use of contraception, more years of average schooling, better health care, and an increase in the mean marriage age of women.


Advantages & Disadvantages :

Advantages :

  • Lower fertility impacts women’s education positively, which in turn lowers the fertility of the next generations. With better infrastructure development, better health care, and education, fertility drops and income rises.

  • Demographic Dividend- The spiral of lower fertility leads to a window of time when the ratio of the working-age population is higher than that of the dependent age groups. This high proportion of people in the workforce boosts income and investment, given the higher level of saving due to lower dependence.

  • The falling fertility rate will also lead to lower pressure on land, water and other resources and would also contribute to achieving environmental goals.


Disadvantages :

  • A fall in fertility rate beyond replacement level  would have a negative effect on the proportion of the working population:
  • A rise in education and independence among women would enhance their labor participation, which could arrest the fall in labor participation up to a limit.

  • An influx of immigrants from countries with higher population growth could also play a positive part but this would change local demography, leading to political unrest.

  • An aging population will also affect global interest rates negatively as the share of people over 50 years will form almost 40% of the population by 2100. In their book The Great Demographic Reversal, economists Goodhart and Pradhan explain how falling fertility will have a positive effect on inflation through higher wages due to lower labor supply and a change in the nature of unemployment inflation trade-off, as now low inflation can be maintained even with low unemployment.


How to deal with Decline in Fertility?

  • Reforms in the labor market to induce more flexibility in the labor market would encourage working women to have more children and non-working mothers to enter the labor market.

  • Countries across the globe are experimenting with policies to boost fertility. Germany found success in boosting births through liberal labor laws, allowing more parental leave and benefits.

  • Denmark offers state-funded IVF for women below 40 years, and Hungary recently nationalized IVF clinics.

  • Poland gives out monthly cash payments to parents having more than two children, whereas Russia makes a one-time payment to parents when their second child is born.

  • Liberal labor reforms, encouraging higher female labor force participation rate, and a higher focus on nutrition and health would ensure sustained labor supply and output despite lower fertility.


2. Remember Periyar with a pledge to embrace dissent.


Theme : Modern Indian History


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  1. Context

  2. Who was Periyar E.V. Ramasamy ?

  3. Justice Party

  4. Self Respect Movement

  5. Rationalism

  6. How Relevant is Periyar in Conventional Times ?


Context :
Periyar E.V. Ramasamy’s birth anniversary (September 17)  is celebrated as Social Justice Day.


Who was Periyar E.V. Ramasamy ?

  • Born E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker in 1879 in Erode district of Tamil Nadu (TN) , Periyar started his political career as a Congress worker. He quarreled with Gandhi over the question of separate dining for Brahmin and non-Brahmin students.

  • He resigned from the party in 1925, and associated himself with the Justice Party and the Self Respect Movement, which opposed the dominance of Brahmins in social life, especially the bureaucracy.

  • Periyar’s fame spread beyond the Tamil region during the Vaikom Satyagraha of 1924, a mass movement to demand that lower caste persons be given the right to use a public path in front of the famous Vaikom temple. He would later be referred to as Vaikom Veerar (Hero of Vaikom).

  • In the 1940s, Periyar launched a political party, Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), which espoused an independent Dravida Nadu comprising Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, and Kannada speakers.

  • As a social reformer, he focused on social, cultural and gender inequalities, and his reform agenda questioned matters of faith, gender and tradition.

  • Periyar died in 1973 at the age of 94. Over the years, Periyar is revered as Thanthai Periyar, the father figure of modern Tamil Nadu.



Justice Party :

  • The Justice Party, officially the South Indian Liberal Federation, was a political party in British India's Madras Presidency.

  • Dr. C. Natesa Mudaliar founded it on November 20, 1916, in Madras' Victoria Public Hall, and it was co-founded by T. M. Nair, P. Theagaraya Chetty, and Alamelu Mangai Thayarammal as a result of a series of non-Brahmin conferences and meetings in the presidency. 

  • Communal divisions between Brahmins and non-Brahmins began in the presidency in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, owing primarily to caste prejudices and disproportionate Brahminical representation in government jobs.

  • The formation of the Justice Party marked the culmination of several efforts to establish an organization to represent non-Brahmins in Madras and is regarded as the beginning of the Dravidian Movement.

  • Dravidar Kazhagam is a social movement by Periyar whose original goals were to eradicate the ills of the existing caste system including untouchability and on a grander scale to obtain a "Dravida Nadu" (Dravidian nation) from the Madras Presidency.


Self Respect Movement :

  • The Self-Respect Movement was a dynamic social movement aimed at destroying the contemporary Hindu social order in its totality and creating a new, rational society without caste, religion and god.

  • The movement was started in Tamil Nadu in 1925. It was an egalitarian movement that propagated the ideologies of breaking down the Brahminical hegemony, equal rights for the backward classes and women in the society and revitalization of the Dravidian languages like Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam.


Rationalism :

  • Rationalism is a method of thinking that is marked by being a deductive and abstract way of reasoning. In ordinary usage rationalism is a basic sense of respect for reason or to refer to the idea that reason should play a large role in human life 

  • Periyar’s vision was about inclusive growth and freedom of individuals. He presented rationalism as a solid foundation for thinking along these lines. He said, “Wisdom lies in thinking. The spearhead of thinking is rationalism.”

  • Periyar said, “Any opposition not based on rationalism or science or experience, will one day or other, reveal fraud, selfishness, lies, and conspiracies.” We can posit this with regard to the extreme-right activities we see happening across the country and sometimes abroad too.

  • Periyar was way ahead of his time. All the reforms he shared with people could not be implemented at the time because of the searing discussions they led to.  One such reform measure he felt was needed to change the caste dynamic in society was ‘Priesthood for all castes’.


How Relevant is Periyar in Conventional Times ?

  • The discussion that Periyar initiated continues to-date, and is the antithesis to this manner of societal regression. Periyar proclaimed that he would always stand with the oppressed in the fight against oppressors and that his enemy was oppression.

  • Spaces for debate are shrinking all over the world. Majoritarianism and populism are not enabling sensible conversations in any public sphere. At such a time, Periyar stands as a stellar precedent, reminding us of a time when people with opposing ideas were invited to the stage for a debate.


3. India’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution to combat climate change.


Theme : Environment


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  1. Context

  2. Paris Climate Agreement

  3. Emission Intensity

  4. Environmental Performance Index (EPI):

  5. New INDCs

  6. Other highlights of India’s updated NDC

  7. Road Ahead


Context :
In August 2022, India formally updated its nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which was made on October 2, 2015.


Paris Climate Agreement :

  • The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016.

  • Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

  • To achieve this long-term temperature goal, countries aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate-neutral world by mid-century.



Emissions intensity  :

  • Emissions intensity is the total amount of emissions emitted for every unit of GDP.

  • The updated contributions include reducing the emissions intensity of the GDP by 45% by 2030, compared to the 2005 level.

  • According to India’s 2015 NDC, the country had announced that it will work towards improving the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% below the 2005 level, by 2030.

  • In December 2020, the former Environment Minister had claimed that India had already achieved 21% of its emissions intensity as a proportion of its GDP in line with its commitment.



Environmental Performance Index (EPI):

  • The Environment Performance Index (EPI) is an international ranking system that measures the environmental health and sustainability of countries.

  • 2022 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) released on World Environment Day has ranked India last (180th).

  • The EPI, a biennial index, was started in 2002 as Environmental Sustainability Index by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network.


 New INDCs :

 In 2021, the Prime Minister of India had announced a new 5-point set of targets at COP-26 (Panchamrit) 

(a) India will increase its non-fossil fuel energy capacity to 500 gigawatt (GW) by 2030;

(b) It will meet 50% of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2030;

 (c) The total projected carbon emissions will be reduced by 1 billion tonnes from now through 2030;

 (d) The carbon intensity of its economy will be brought down to less than 45%;

 (e) India will achieve its target of Net Zero by 2070.


Other highlights of India’s updated NDC:

It includes :

  1. adopting a climate-friendly and cleaner path for economic development

  2. creating an additional carbon sink

  3. adapting to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in vulnerable sectors

  4. mobilizing funds from developed countries to implement better mitigation and adaptation actions

  5. building an architectural framework and other capacities for quick diffusion

  6. better research and development for climate technologies.


Road Ahead :

  1. Developing new transit systems and extending the existing ones can also result in a boom in employment.

  2. Economy and Environment go hand in hand. A planned approach to development which ensures uncompromised growth prospects especially for the rural economy in India is needed to address climate change challenges effectively.Climate Change also presents an opportunity to adopt a cautious yet sustainable approach to development.

  3. Forests and Wetland Conservation: Forests are known for regulating rainfall and temperature. Conservation and enhancement of forests and wetlands will support agricultural productivity, sequester CO2 emissions, and enhance resilience to environmental shocks as Frontline Warriors.

  4. Proper Waste Management: The mismanagement of waste adds to climate change by adding a variety of pollutants to the atmosphere. The development of waste-selective management plants like waste gasification will tackle this problem.


  5. Building the infrastructure of these plants and future maintenance will open new employment opportunities for both skilled and unskilled laborers.

  6. Adaptation: Planned adaptation assumes the importance in building adaptive capacity.