CHINA’S ‘TWO’ TO TANGO?

“China will allow all couples to have two children, abandoning its decades-long one-child policy, the Communist Party of China (CPC) announced after a key meeting on Thursday. The change of policy is intended to balance population development and address the challenge of an ageing population, according to a communique issued after the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee held from Monday to Thursday.”

Xinhua – October 29, 2015

One of the biggest global news stories of the year came from China today – and second such in a week from the world’s most populous nation – or the world’s biggest tyranny now with ‘fully blossoming capitalist’ hues – after the US-China tension in the South China Sea.

It is already one of the biggest global headlines of the day – as has been widely reported in the global India.

Well, China was in fact, at ease in losing its ‘most populous country’ tag to India – as various studies project – but its ‘demographic problem’ was reaching to an alarming level.

It was the real worry about an ‘ageing’ population that made China finally bow – after its controversial ‘population control policy’ that it started with in 1970s and did all to forcefully implement. This ‘looming demographic crisis’ threatens China to push the country away from the economic gains that it has achieved in the last over three decades – with opening of its economy in 1978.

India, poised to take over China in being the most populous country is also staring at population explosion. India, in fact, is at more at odds than China when it comes to resources. China, the world’s second largest economy, is more than five times (at $11.2 trillion) of India’s (at $2.3 trillion). China’s geographical spread is more than thrice that of India’s. And India’s over 1.25 billion population is not far from catching up with China’s over 1.3 billion. India’s has the big task to control its population control.

But, then it is this population only that provides hopes for India’s economic potential in the days to come – with India already being the world’s fastest growing economy.

India is the world’s youngest nation demographically and Narednra Modi, its prime minister, is focusing heavily on this ‘demographic dividend’ to take India’s economy to newer heights – and even the world is trying to tap into it – with studies projecting India to have the world’s largest middle class by 2030 – BBC puts them at 475 million.

65% of Indians are below 35 years of age while China is forced to handle the problem of reducing working age population. A report in Reuters wrote today, “For the first time in decades the working age population fell in 2012, and China, the world’s most populous nation, could be the first country in the world to get old before it gets rich. By around the middle of this century, one in every three Chinese is forecast to be over 60, with a dwindling proportion of working adults to support them.”

The United Nations says China will have around 440 million of people above 60 by 2050 (as various reports say). So, a serious crisis is imminent if not checked in time.

Chinese leaders of its ‘one party autocracy’ had realized the problem long ago but given the fact that they are a hardened breed of autocrats with over six decades of solid and unchallenged grip on the world’s most populous nation, they took a long time before acting finally, in the same way as China kept on refusing to devalue Yuan before it was forced to do so.

Dictators have some peculiar habits and it goes without saying that what they plan and do are the ‘final words’ and the world for such a nation ends there. China’s ‘one child norm’ was a cherished policy of its ‘evolving and revolving dictators’ and they resisted ‘forces’ (read economic) as far as they could. But for the first time in 2013, they gave an open public notion that they had realized they could not take it anymore – with easing family planning restrictions – but the plan failed to take off as was urban-centric and was with layers of restrictive conditions.

They could finally shed the inhibition they had today, during Communist Party of China’s ‘Fifth Plenum’ while coming out with China’s next five year programme for 2016-2020.

But can it undo the excesses of over three decades committed in the name of ‘controlling one boom for another – population growth for economic progress’?

After decades of economic growth, China is slowing down, and is losing its demographic advantage that made it manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

Most importantly, can it work on the mindset of countless of couples who feel they are more comfortable with the one-child norm than being burdened with the financial woes of bringing up another child in an ‘increasingly expensive country’ as Reuters and different experts say?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/