Economics Ethics

The number of children has a greater impact on development than religion

The Muslim population has once again been a topic of controversy. Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to Muslims in India, implying they have a higher birth rate. 

Trends of Muslim Population according per Data Point (NFHS-5 2019-21), published on April 23:

  • Population trends: The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister observed that Muslims’ percentage of the overall population rose by 43.15% between 1950 and 2015, while Hindus’ share declined by 7.82% between 1950 and 2015.
  • In 2019-21, Muslims had a fertility rate of 2.36, which was significantly closer to replacement. The fertility rate is the average number of children a woman is likely to have during her lifetime. A rate of 2.1 (the’replacement level’) indicates that the population is constant. 

Factors contributing to Muslims’ rapid population growth:

  • Socioeconomic Factors: Fertility rates are influenced more by socioeconomic reasons than by religion. Educating females, delaying marriage, raising family planning knowledge, and enabling access to family planning methods are critical to lowering fertility rates.
  • Fertility rates among Muslim women vary by location, which is impacted by state social and economic development.
  • Early Marriage and Literacy: Higher fertility rates are associated with earlier marriage among women aged 20 to 24. Conversely, there is a negative link between women’s literacy rates and fertility rates. 
  • Lack of Awareness: A large majority of women report never hearing or seeing family planning messages, highlighting the need for increased awareness.
  • Unmet Demand for Family Planning: Many women, particularly Muslims in some states, have unmet family planning needs owing to a variety of issues, including a lack of access to contraception.
  • Government Intervention: Raising knowledge about contraception, expanding access to family planning services, educating girls, and avoiding child marriages are all critical government tasks for lowering fertility rates among religious groups. 

Need for coercive measures:

  • Comprehensive Education and knowledge Programmes: Launch educational programmes in communities around the country to promote family planning, gender equality, and reproductive health knowledge among men and women.
  • Access to Family Planning Services: Provide simple access to a variety of family planning techniques and contraceptions, even in distant and underserved regions, through government health institutions and community outreach programmes. 

The Importance of Empathy Science and Inclusivity at IITs

The recent spate of suicides among IIT students, as well as the ensuing media attention, has highlighted social behavior and fears among the IIT student community. It emphasizes that studying at the IITs may be extremely demanding, particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

What is meant by material inequality?

  • Material inequality refers to the unequal distribution of resources and basic necessities, such as food, water, shelter, healthcare, education, and access to opportunities, among individuals or groups in a community.
  • Factors to blame: It is caused by a number of factors, including income, social class, gender, race, ethnicity, and geographical place.
  • Material inequality can have a negative impact on individuals’ and communities’ well-being and possibilities, resulting in differences in access to resources and fundamental requirements.

How can IITs collaborate with local communities?

  • Students from all fields can do field and community studies to better understand the causes of material inequality in their communities. This will give them insights into the difficulties that exist and will assist them in designing effective solutions.
  • Interdisciplinary Field Work: IITs can implement an interdisciplinary fieldwork pedagogy in which professors from various disciplines collaborate to create solutions to societal concerns. This will assist pupils in developing mutual respect, empathy, and a shared knowledge of how the state and the market function.
  • Local Problem Areas: IITs can identify and work on tangible problems of all sizes and difficulty levels in the local districts, such as cooking energy, public transportation, small businesses, and pollution. Faculty members can collaborate with district administrations to address these issues, involving students from both IIT and local colleges.
  • Collaboration and Teamwork: Participating in local communities will minimise competitive stress while increasing collaboration and teamwork among students. Students will appreciate the diversity of their backgrounds and recognise the challenges that many of them have faced.
  • Students should expect training in a science of empathy and diversity that questions and explores all corners of knowledge and society. Only when Indian science becomes more democratic will the university become more compassionate, and the community become more equal and rich.

What is empathy?

  • Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings. It entails being able to put oneself in the shoes of another person and see things from their point of view.
  • Empathy enables people to connect emotionally with others, recognise their needs, and respond with understanding and compassion.
  • It is a key part of emotional intelligence that contributes to the development of strong relationships, effective communication, and societal cohesion.

What do you mean by “science of empathy”?

  • The study and use of empathy as a scientific concept, including understanding its mechanics, impact, and possible applications in domains such as healthcare, education, and social justice, is referred to as the science of empathy.
  • It entails studying empathy using scientific methods such as neuroscience, psychology, and social science research.
  • The goal is to learn more about empathy and how it may be used to improve social and emotional outcomes for individuals and communities.

What is the significance of empathy at IITs?

  • Addressing social inequities: While IITs are known for their demanding academic curriculum and high-achieving students, they also have a responsibility to address societal inequalities. Empathy can assist students and professors in understanding the issues that poor populations confront and developing solutions to these challenges.
  • Empathy can help IIT students and professors work more effectively together by understanding each other’s viewpoints and experiences. This can lead to improved collaboration and teamwork, which is critical when dealing with difficult situations.
  • Creating socially responsible professionals: IITs strive to generate people that can positively impact society. Empathy is a crucial skill for professionals who want to understand their clients’ or users’ needs and worries and offer solutions to suit those requirements.
  • Empathy can also improve research by encouraging interdisciplinary collaborations that take into account a diverse range of viewpoints and experiences. This can result in more creative and efficient solutions to complex challenges.

Why is empathy, in addition to science, vital in higher education?

  • Higher education institutions have a social responsibility to generate graduates who understand the societal implications of their job and are capable of developing solutions that benefit all members of society. Empathy enables students to comprehend the views of others who may be impacted by their work and to develop more inclusive and equitable solutions.
  • Collaborative Work: Collaborative work is becoming more widespread in higher education, spanning fields, cultures, and even country borders. Empathy enables students to understand their collaborators’ needs and motivations and to work effectively as part of a team.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: Diversity and inclusion are important values in higher education, and empathy is essential in accomplishing these objectives. Empathy enables students to comprehend and value the experiences and viewpoints of individuals from diverse backgrounds, resulting in a more inclusive and inviting learning environment.
  • Ethical Considerations: Science and technology can have ethical implications, and empathy is required to comprehend how scientific and technical breakthroughs affect various groups of people. Empathy can assist students in identifying potential ethical quandaries and developing answers that adhere to ethical ideals.

@the end

The problems of socioeconomic inequality and stress among students at Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) point to the need for a more compassionate and inclusive approach to higher education. Interdisciplinary fieldwork and community participation can help to build a varied and inclusive higher education ecosystem, preparing students to be better professionals and citizens.

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