Unnatural growth in population
LEAVING aside the normally congested market places, casual glances around residential pockets of the twin capital districts will give a clear picture about rapid change in the demography. Compared to about two decades back when every locality used to have spacious enough playground, such roomy feeling has been replaced by concrete structures, thus, serving as confirmation about increasing population in Manipur; which is known to many as a resource-starved, land-locked and strife-torn state. As had been pointed out by health and family welfare minister L Jayantakumar at the world population day observance on Tuesday, Manipur cannot afford to ignore imminent population explosion in the near future and its impact on the society. With its low per capita income, implications of over population in Manipur, similar to those in other parts of the country, will include serious strain on the local economy, stiff competition for the limited job opportunities and social tension that could often lead to unwanted consequences especially in a state like Manipur where people of different ethnicities and varied interests reside. With the 2011 census report putting the figure of non-locals at 7,40,448 out of the state’s total population of 22,93,895 it leaves little to doubt that outsiders are having substantial presence in the state. Other factors that have been contributing to the population growth could be advancement in medical science leading to higher birth rate than the death rate and poverty, for impoverished families have the notion that more the number of members in the family, more will be the numbers to earn income. Some also feel that more children are needed to look after them in their old age.
In Manipur’s context, the issue of sharp increase in population cannot be viewed as ignorance or defiance of the people to undertake birth control measures as unrestrained entry of non-locals is also a major cause for the capital city literally running out of space. Moreover, most contemporary ethnic families having maximum of three children on an average should clear all misgivings that the people of Manipur are averse to family planning. On account of its close proximity to Myanmar, miles of unfenced borders and similar biological features with those settling across the border, it would be an arduous task to precisely define Manipur’s real demography, at-least at this juncture. With reports doing the round that migrants are periodically sneaking into Manipur through the Myanmar side taking advantage of similar looks and built, precision in the enumeration of the state’s population will remain inconclusive, with the exception of preparing official figures for the sake of record keeping. It appears that addressing the issue of population control in Manipur will necessitate multi-pronged strategies, including sustaining the campaign to remind the people about the benefits of birth control and putting in place a viable mechanism to check entry of illegal migrants. As increase in population, particularly those caused by the presence of illiterate illegal migrants, will give serious problem to generating employment, manpower utilisation, pressure on infrastructure, transportation, communication, housing, education, healthcare etc., the issue of checking natural as well as unnatural increase in population growth need to be handled sensibly as well as effectively before overcrowding creates chaos in the society.