Jammu and Kashmir is growing, with an addition of around two and a half million people since 2001. With a population of about seven million in 2011 census Kashmir is leading the population chart of the state. Our soft spoken Census Commissioner with his exceptional leadership capability, better strategy and excellent team work managed least irritating and controversy free head count of our noticeably increasing population and its other vital characteristic. In a decade we have grown from 10,100,000 to 12500000, a visible increase of 23.7%.
Census 2011 findings have revealed many things within our system and exposed the harsh reality of squalor in our social system and structure of existence. It is an outstanding and resourceful indicator of our, not much required growth lacking qualitative aspect of values; an indicator of quantitative expansion bereft of much required feature of virtues. Have we been able to keep pace with this relatively exponential increase in our population? Apparently, it seems we as a nation are hanging back on several aspects of expansion; consequently, with every increase in number of our people we will be unable to treat them in a humane way. Our planning and policies are far behind the necessary approach to handle this rush of people. Be it food, healthcare, education, housing or other infrastructural facility for civilized habitation of this surging population, our pace of development is at proverbial ‘snails pace’.
The only indicator of our qualitative growth is an increase in our ability to read and write. Census statistics convey a growth in our literacy rate from 55.5 percent in 2001 to 59 percent in 2011, a growth of 3.5 points during the last ten years. But, the way we had been boasting about expansion and transformation in our education system during this period, this too little growth of 3.5 points is insignificant. Poor increase of 6.3 percent in literacy rate as against the population growth of around 23.7 percent in the same period is negligible in present contemporary world of technology and knowledge; but the trend can be termed as positive and healthy for any future planning and development of education sector and its impact on other parameters of community development.
The most striking fact of census 2011 is our lopsided sex ratio. In 2001 we had 892 females as against 1000 male and now in 2011 it has shown a shameful down ward trend, with 883 female for every 1000 male; a fall of nine points during last ten years. The present ratio of 883 is disgracefully far behind the all India level of 940. Census-2011 unfolds the more shocking aspect of our gender ratio; the drastic decline in child sex ratio. In 2001 this ratio was 941 and in 2011 it has come down drastically to 859. So, against every thousand male children in the age group of 0 to 6 years, we have only 859 females. This is an alarming situation! And will ultimately lead to societal confusion. Even legal provisions like Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostics Techniques (PC & PNDT) Act’s effectiveness could not help in curbing sex determination menace and subsequent female feticide. It is evident from the present census data that female feticide is now a fact in our society and failure of law enforcing authorities is markedly visible. After induced death of so many female in their mother’s womb, which created a evident gap among male and female population, every concerned authority from New Delhi to Srinagar has come out of their deep slumber, blaming each other for the negligence and declaring Jammu and Kashmir ‘under radar for female feticide’.
Diminishing male-female ratio will have its far reaching consequential impact on our social system in years to come. This irreversible error and its damaging effects can not be reversed or rectified in any case and will surely prove detrimental for progress and growth of our future generation. However, timely intervention by our societal authority and administrative leaders will save the social system from any further erosion. A situation of humiliation has arisen out of our materialistic frame of mind leading to quagmire of greed and egocentricity. Our social setup and structure has gone so loose that we are unable to hold it cohesively even with the strict norms of community deterrence and punitive legal provisions. Dowry is one of the most prominent manifestations of material and mental bankruptcy of present social order. A recent study reveals that in Srinagar city alone, thousands of marriageable female are incapable of getting married, because their guardians are unable to arrange huge dowry; an order of the present matrimonial custom. These social evils have pushed our society to the wall and people are forced to contemplate extreme act of female feticide, not by choice but by compulsions.
With a true sense of optimism, let us hope that present survey of population, its statistics and other variables will prove a watershed for comprehensive and constructive planning for future of the state and its people. The realistic approach and positive strategy adopted by the people at the command of this enormous task of counting and computing behavior of more than twelve million people can provide a wider canvas for our planners in particular and common people in general to paint the finer lines of their future and shape the contours of their prosperity with dignity and honor. The positive point of this census exercise was that most extreme forces within our social and political system did not object to it and gave their nod for smooth conduct of this crucial exercise of head count and other parameters of economical, social and behavioral attitude of people of this politically sensitive state. With assistance and encouragement from almost every quarter, apparently, the census-2011 has proved a success in visualizing the hard facts hidden within the corrupting layers of our social system.
We as a nation should seriously read between the lines quantitative and qualitative characteristic of preliminary findings of census-2011: introspect and find the explanation of squalid state of mind within ourselves in particular and the social system in general. The census-2011 is all the more significant as it carries within its statistics the shadows of resultant impact of more than two decade old strife and trouble, almost on all aspects of life within the state. Any results gathered or conclusions drawn out of this most vital exercise should not only be handled properly but adhered to strictly in light of the period to which it refers (2001-2011).