maternal health

19 million women in India have given birth to seven or more children

The average births per woman decline with increase in education levels.

As many as 19 million women in India have given birth to seven or more children, and 15 million (80%) of these women live in rural areas, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of recently released census data.

This is equivalent to Niger’s population, a country in Africa having a fertility rate of 6.76. The countries having the highest fertility rates in the world are mostly situated in Africa.

There were fewer such women with higher levels of education, the data further reveal – 15 million of those women were illiterate as against 0.09 million who were graduates and above.

Source: Census of India, 2011
Source: Census of India, 2011
 Source: Census of India, 2011
Source: Census of India, 2011

Educated women have fewer births, average births per woman declined since 2001

The average births per woman in India is 3.3, a decline of 13% from 3.8 in 2001, based on the total births given by women in the 45-49 years age group (which marks the end of their child-bearing age), according to World Health Organization.

The Central Intelligence Agency estimates India’s average fertility per woman at 2.48 which is the highest among BRICS nations and just better than Pakistan in the sub-continent.

Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have lower fertility rates.

Though the CIA data differs from the Census, trends indicate that Indian women have higher fertility rates than sub-continent countries and other similar economies.

The average births decline with increase in education levels, according to Census data. The average births for women who are graduates and above is 1.9, against 3.8 for women who are illiterate.

The spread of female education is a likely cause for falling fertility among women, according to this report by The Economist. Female literacy in India increased from 53.7% in 2001 to 64.6% in 2011, according to Census data.

As many as 1,423 females in rural areas have never attended any educational institution for every 1,000 males who have not done so, and only 577 females attend college for every 1,000 males in rural areas, IndiaSpend reported earlier.

Source: Census of India, 2011
Source: Census of India, 2011

Note: The average child-bearing age for a woman is 15-49 years, according to the World Health Organization. Therefore, we have taken 45-49 years as the sample set for determining the average children per woman.

320,000 girls below age 15 have already reported two births

As many as 0.32 million girls who are married and aged less than 15 years have given birth to two children – an increase of 88% since 2001, when the figure was 0.17 million.

Further, 0.28 million married girls in the age group of 15-19 years have already given birth to four children, which is an increase of 65% from 0.17 million in 2001.

Adolescent pregnancy can lead to several health problems – anaemia, malaria, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, postpartum haemorrhage and mental disorders – according to World Health Organization.

Nearly 12.7 million girls in India aged between 10-19 years are married and six million children were born to them, IndiaSpend reported earlier.

Notes:

  • “All ages” includes “age not stated”.
  • “Literate” includes figures for “literates without educational level” and “educational levels not classifiable”.
  • “Ever married women” includes currently married, widowed, divorced and separated. 
  • “Matric/ secondary but below graduate” includes “non-technical diploma and certificate not equal to degree”.  
  • Due to the above caveats, there may be some overlaps in the data. Hence, adding sub-headings cumulatively may not equal the overall figure.  

This article first appeared on Indiaspend, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit.

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As India turns 70, London School of Economics asks some provocative questions

Is India ready to become a global superpower?

Meaningful changes have always been driven by the right, but inconvenient questions. As India completes 70 years of its sovereign journey, we could do two things – celebrate, pay our token tributes and move on, or take the time to reflect and assess if our course needs correction. The ‘India @ 70: LSE India Summit’, the annual flagship summit of the LSE (London School of Economics) South Asia Centre, is posing some fundamental but complex questions that define our future direction as a nation. Through an honest debate – built on new research, applied knowledge and ground realities – with an eclectic mix of thought leaders and industry stalwarts, this summit hopes to create a thought-provoking discourse.

From how relevant (or irrelevant) is our constitutional framework, to how we can beat the global one-upmanship games, from how sincere are business houses in their social responsibility endeavours to why water is so crucial to our very existence as a strong nation, these are some crucial questions that the event will throw up and face head-on, even as it commemorates the 70th anniversary of India’s independence.

Is it time to re-look at constitution and citizenship in India?

The Constitution of India is fundamental to the country’s identity as a democratic power. But notwithstanding its historical authority, is it perhaps time to examine its relevance? The Constitution was drafted at a time when independent India was still a young entity. So granting overwhelming powers to the government may have helped during the early years. But in the current times, they may prove to be more discriminatory than egalitarian. Our constitution borrowed laws from other countries and continues to retain them, while the origin countries have updated them since then. So, do we need a complete overhaul of the constitution? An expert panel led by Dr Mukulika Banerjee of LSE, including political and economic commentator S Gurumurthy, Madhav Khosla of Columbia University, Niraja Gopal Jayal of JNU, Chintan Chandrachud the author of the book Balanced Constitutionalism and sociologist, legal researcher and Director of Council for Social Development Kalpana Kannabiran will seek answers to this.

Is CSR simply forced philanthropy?

While India pioneered the mandatory minimum CSR spend, has it succeeded in driving impact? Corporate social responsibility has many dynamics at play. Are CSR initiatives mere tokenism for compliance? Despite government guidelines and directives, are CSR activities well-thought out initiatives, which are monitored and measured for impact? The CSR stipulations have also spawned the proliferation of ambiguous NGOs. The session, ‘Does forced philanthropy work – CSR in India?” will raise these questions of intent, ethics and integrity. It will be moderated by Professor Harry Barkema and have industry veterans such as Mukund Rajan (Chairman, Tata Council for Community Initiatives), Onkar S Kanwar (Chairman and CEO, Apollo Tyres), Anu Aga (former Chairman, Thermax) and Rahul Bajaj (Chairman, Bajaj Group) on the panel.

Can India punch above its weight to be considered on par with other super-powers?

At 70, can India mobilize its strengths and galvanize into the role of a serious power player on the global stage? The question is related to the whole new perception of India as a dominant power in South Asia rather than as a Third World country, enabled by our foreign policies, defense strategies and a buoyant economy. The country’s status abroad is key in its emergence as a heavyweight but the foreign service officers’ cadre no longer draws top talent. Is India equipped right for its aspirations? The ‘India Abroad: From Third World to Regional Power’ panel will explore India’s foreign policy with Ashley Tellis, Meera Shankar (Former Foreign Secretary), Kanwal Sibal (Former Foreign Secretary), Jayant Prasad and Rakesh Sood.

Are we under-estimating how critical water is in India’s race ahead?

At no other time has water as a natural resource assumed such a big significance. Studies estimate that by 2025 the country will become ‘water–stressed’. While water has been the bone of contention between states and controlling access to water, a source for political power, has water security received the due attention in economic policies and development plans? Relevant to the central issue of water security is also the issue of ‘virtual water’. Virtual water corresponds to the water content (used) in goods and services, bulk of which is in food grains. Through food grain exports, India is a large virtual net exporter of water. In 2014-15, just through export of rice, India exported 10 trillion litres of virtual water. With India’s water security looking grim, are we making the right economic choices? Acclaimed author and academic from the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, Amita Bavisar will moderate the session ‘Does India need virtual water?’

Delve into this rich confluence of ideas and more at the ‘India @ 70: LSE India Summit’, presented by Apollo Tyres in association with the British Council and organized by Teamworks Arts during March 29-31, 2017 at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. To catch ‘India @ 70’ live online, register here.

At the venue, you could also visit the Partition Museum. Dedicated to the memory of one of the most conflict-ridden chapters in our country’s history, the museum will exhibit a unique archive of rare photographs, letters, press reports and audio recordings from The Partition Museum, Amritsar.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Teamwork Arts and not by the Scroll editorial team.