Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The question of Pakistan's population on day of 7 billion

(Updated in Sept. 2016)

Today is the day of "celebrating" the day of 7 billion people in this word. Several articles, papers and blog posts have surfaced since the beginning of this year on this topic, for example here, here, here, here, here, here, or here, or here.

Pakistan, a country of more than 170 million, has a high population growth rate and could become the fourth largest country in 2050 with population surpassing 300 million. Our country hence has always been in the forefront of news for population issues. In the last few months a flurry of articles appeared in different English language newspapers of Pakistan related to (over) population, for reference see, here, here here, and here. Despite the numerous articles, I decided to blog about this topic because I could not find any recent article that would point out the multitudes of causes behind our population issues.

(For this blog I have mostly used journal articles and survey publications to avoid my personal bias. However, several articles used in this blog, unfortunately, are not available for free access.)

Whenever the question of population growth arises in our country, we tend to think of our family planning program which became part of government policy in the Fifties in first Five-Year Plan but launched as a formal program by the government in 1965. In the last five decades, the program has been successful in increasing level about awareness about contraceptive methods. During this period, the use of family planning methods rose from around 5.5 in 1968-69 to 35 percent in 2012-13 (Sathar and Casterline 1998; NIPS 2013). However despite these successes, our current population growth rate, as reported in Economic Survey 2015-16 is 1.89 (quoted to be 2.03 by Prime Minister Gilani on population day) and total fertility rate is over 4 (it went down to 3.1 in 2016) and population continues to rise with alarmingly.

While population growth might spur economic growth (esp. when in conjunction with demographic dividend), an unchecked growth with no matching economic infrastructure to subsume the population efficiently can create a burden also (to read more on this check this and this). According to Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Nadeem Ul Haque for current rate of population of our country to keep the same standard of living would require a corresponding national growth rate of over 7 percent (which is currently project to grow at a little over 3 percent). We would also need to add 2 million new jobs every year, to keep the incoming cohorts employed.

The million dollar question is why population programs in Pakistan haven't been successful? It would not be fair to label the Pakistan population program as failure. It has been successful in achieving an almost a universal level of contraceptive knowledge leading to increase in family planning usage which ultimately brought the fertility rates under some checks. However, it would be useful to critique why it has not been successful in meeting its targets consistently, from the very beginning. A common comparison of Pakistan's program is done with Bangladesh because at the time when it separated from Pakistan, "there were 5 million more people in Bangladesh than Pakistan... as result of their successful program, by 2050 Pakistan will have 62 million more people than Bangladesh" (Campbell et al. 2007).

The reasons for its lackluster performance is attributed to our government's lack of commitment (including switching family planning between ministries of health and population welfare (which has been devolved to the provinces after the 18th amendment in 2010)) to meet population goals and in general corruption in the system. Another reason is not being able to spread the reach of contraceptives despite deployment of more than 100,000 Lady Health Workers reaching 90 million population and multitude of smaller health centers geared towards rural areas. The third reason attributed to this (particularly to the stalled family planning usage rate) is the drastic reduction of international donor funding (which is the major funding source) for family planning programs, since the 2000. (Also see this).

The program and supply side success has brought Pakistan contraceptive use at 30 percent and a similar proportion of married women also show unmet need for family planning. Combining the current FP usage with unmet need for limiting childbearing (desire to have no more children) would bring up contraceptive use to more than 50 percent. Just to give the reader an idea of how Pakistan fares in the region, the family planning rates of other countries in the region like Bangladesh, India, Iran, Nepal and Sri Lanka are 54%, 48%, 73% , 38% and 68% respectively which are clearly at much higher level than Pakistan.It might be interesting to note that the top method choice in Pakistan is Pakistan Female Sterilization (8%), in Bangladesh it is pill (43%) and in India it is female sterilization (37%). For details on these statistics see various demographic and health studies).

One of the best way to gauge fertility demand is to ask about ideal family size (because some people may end up with than their ideal because of lack of access to family planning). According to the latest demographic survey the ideal family size in Pakistan is 4.1, which is the same as actual TFR. Moreover the demand for larger families continues to persist. "Only 13 percent of women prefer a two-child family and another 14 percent consider three children as their ideal family size." One should ask that why desired fertility has not gone down despite decades of promotion of two children as better family campaigns.

Another strong reason for low use family planning is sex preference of children (which for some reason is not talked about that much in our country), especially the desire to have sons or lack of satisfaction with sex composition of current children. According to one study, in order to have one male child people are willing to have as many female children as needed (source missing). The lack of a son or a daughter among one’s living children increases the likelihood that a woman will have another child in all four regions. For example, women who have more than 5 children but no sons, 24% of them still want to have more children, while "among women with three children, 65 percent of those with three sons want to have no more children compared with only 14 percent of those with three daughters." Despite these preferences, I should point out here that abortion (or feticide) based on sex preference is rare in Pakistan.

Other strong indirect factors in contraceptive non use are lack of autonomy of women, lack of education and formal work opportunity, poverty and a general sense of fatalism and/or religiosity.

Direct reasons of lack of contraceptive use and/or discontinuation of use include actual or perceived side effects of modern contraception (hormonal) and method failure, failure of method (resulting in pregnancy), barrier in access including cost, distance, social stigma, lack of knowledge of a method and its source, religious and social barriers in use of family planning. (For more info see this and this.)

Family planning programs have come under fire because some contend that "fertility rates in some countries will drop only when couples decide they want fewer children. And the strongest predictors of a woman’s desired family size are her income, her education level, and her infant’s chances of surviving." The supporters of economic growth and its link to fertility reduction purport that "when the motive is strong, couples will find ways to achieve small families, and state-sponsored family-planning programmes are not a necessary." However, Cleland (2006) contends that though that might be true but "family-planning programmes can accelerate the pace of change." Sharing similar views Bongaarts and Sinding (2009) also note that "voluntary family planning programs are intended to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, but they also legitimize and diffuse the idea of smaller families, thus accelerating the transition to lower fertility."

It is surprising that despite more than four decades of family planning program the ideal family size has remained as high as more than four children which shows that lack of family planning use is not only due to supply side factors but married men and women go through a matrix of choices before opting to limit their families.

Family planning: The unfinished agenda.
Fertility in Pakistan: Past, Present and Future.
Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2006-07.
Does Family Planning Bring Down Fertility
Future of Pakistan family planning
National Program for Family Planning and Primary Health Care.
Nationmaster database.

Bongaarts, J., & Sinding, S. W. (2009). A response to critics of family planning programs. International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 35(1), 39-44.
Campbell M, J Cleland, A Ezeh, and N Prata. 2007. "Public health. Return of the population growth factor". Science (New York, N.Y.). 315 (5818): 1501-2.
Cleland, J., S. Bernstein, A. Ezeh, A. Faundes, A. Glasier, and J. Innis. 2006. "Family planning: the unfinished agenda". The Lancet. 368 (9549): 1810-1827.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Who is a Kafir in the land of the pure? (not mine)

  • Most Sunnis adhere to the Hanafi school of jurisprudence. Only 5 per cent of the country’s population belongs to the Ahle Hadith sect or Wahabis.
  • The Sunnis are subdivided into the Barelvi and Deobandi schools of thought
  • The Deobandis and Wahabis consider the Barelvis as kafir, because they visit the shrines of saints, offer prayers, believe music, poetry and dance can lead to god
  • Barelvis constitute 60 per cent of the population. Deobandis and Wahabis together account for 20 per cent
  • Another 15 per cent are Shias, again considered kafir and subjected to repeated attacks
  • Since 2000, the Sunni-Shia conflict has claimed 5,000 lives
  • Others considered kafir are the religious minorities—Christians, Ismailis, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Ahmadias, etc, who account for 5 per cent of the population
  • So, 20 per cent of the population effectively considers the remaining 80 per cent as kafir

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Street Foods in Lahore, Bhawalpur

Fresh Berries in LahorePeanuts, and PinknutsFish being Weighed at Head PanjbandFish being CleanedFish Being Cleaned by a Child. Look At Him.A Child's Work
Cleaning FishMasalas for the Fish before Deep FryingSprinkling MasalasSprinkling MasalasFish FriedFish About to be Eated
PicklesPakoras and Jalaibis and SamosasStreetside ChaiPinjiri. I grew up eating this. God I need this. Everyday.Moar Chai.Say it ain't so Col Sanders!
Amazing Dhabba in BhawalpurLunchLiverBrain MasalaGrains and Nuts, fried.dukan

love these pics... wish I could write a recipe book on these street foods!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Encyclopedia Iranica

Encyclopædia Iranica | Articles

Very useful site for all things related to Iranian culture and literature!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Some famour Bangla movies (copied from another site)

Thought this is quite interesting... Lest I forget the link, it is better to copy the whole thing with credits.. I do not plan to download the movies from the torrent site (link given below)

Mukh O Mukhosh (1956): Abdul Jabbar Khan directed this trailblazer in the history of our cinema. In 1953, at a cultural programme, a non-Bangalee movie producer remarked, "The climate of this land is not fit for making movies." A worked up Jabbar decided to make a movie based on his play Dakaat right away. Making the movie was a challenge itself. The actors and most of the crewmembers had no experience in film; the shooting came to a standstill more than once due to floods. It took two years to wrap up the whole shooting process. The negative was then taken to Lahore for editing and printing and Jabbar was given a hard time there regarding the processing and bringing the final prints home. Eventually the movie starring Purnima, Ali Mansoor, Najma and others, saw the light of day on August 3, 1956 and we got our first "talkie."

Asiya (1960): The first film shot and developed in FDC (Film Development Corporation), Asiya was directed by Fateh Lohani. Focusing on the life of a village belle, the asset of the film was its music, composed by legendary folk artiste Abbasuddin Ahmed (Samar Das and Abdul Ahad also composed numbers for the movie after Abbasuddin's demise during the making of the film). Featuring Sumita Devi, Qazi Khaleque and Shaheed, the film received the prestigious President Award of Pakistan in 1961.

Harano Din (1961): Directed by Mustafiz, the film made a record as the first Bangla movie to run for 25 weeks. The romantic movie also presented the first popular on-screen couple in our cinema, Rahman-Shabnam.

Kancher Deyal (1963): One of the first feature films by the talented director, Zahir Raihan, Kancher Deyal stood out for a number of reasons. Except for a few scenes in the end, the movie was shot indoors, more specifically in a room. The movie revolved around an ill-fated orphan who had to bear maltreatment at her uncle's household. Khan Ataur Rahman's classic, Shyamol Boron Meyeti accompanied by the doe-eyed Sumita Devi's striking gaze, epitomised the quintessential Bangalee beauty.

Shutorang (1964): Directed by Subhash Dutta, Shutorang, introduced one of the most popular leading ladies of Bangla cinema, Kabori. The film fetched Dutta an award at the Asian Film Festival in Frankfurt in 1964.

Roopban (1965): During the 60s when our movie theatres were being dominated by Urdu and Hindi films, filmmaker Salahuddin made Roopban, based on a widely known paala (folklore). Starring Sujata in the title role, the movie was commercially successful and started a genre of Bangla movies based on myths and folklores.

13 No. Feku Ostagar Lane (1966): The first comedy made in this part of Bengal, the movie was directed by Bashir Hossain and featured Razzaque, Sujata, and other noted actors of the day.

Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula (1967): The first movie based on the life of the last sovereign Nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa and the historical events of the Battle of Palaashi was directed by Khan Ataur Rahman. Anwar Hossain played the role of the doomed Nawab. Khan Ataur Rahman and a played other major roles in the movie.

Jibon Thekey Neya (1970): Zahir Raihan directed one of the most feted Bangla movies, Jibon Thekey Neya, featuring Khan Ataur Rahman, Rowshan Jamil, Anwar Hossain, Razzaque, and Suchanda. Raihan made a bold step with the movie by narrating the contemporary political turmoil in the then East Pakistan. The mass upsurge of 1969 was brilliantly captured in the movie by the ace filmmaker. The movie is also special for another reason: the National Anthem of Bangladesh, Amar Shonar Bangla Ami Tomae Bhalobashi was played for the first time in a Bangla movie and the song ignited the sense of Bangalee nationalism among the masses.

Ora Egaro Jon (1972): The first movie released on our Independence War, most of the lead roles were played by actors who actually fought against the Pakistani armed forces. Directed by Chashi Nazrul Islam, the movie is considered to be one of the best feature films based on the Liberation War. Khasru, Sumita Devi, and Shabana portrayed the lead roles in the film.

Rangbaaz (1973): Directed by Zahirul Haque, the movie was a trendsetter for several reasons. Rangbaaz introduced the idea of an "anti-hero" in our cinema. The movie took actors Razzaque and Kabori to new heights of popularity. The song Shey Jey Kano Elona featured in the movie became an overnight phenomenon.

Titash Ekti Nodir Naam (1973): The movie, directed by Writwik Kumar Ghatak, is an in-depth look at the lives and struggles of the community of fishermen living by the river Titash. Featuring Kabori, Prabeer Mitra, and Rozy, the movie received rave reviews both in Bangladesh and overseas.

Shimana Periye (1977): Directed by Alamgir Kabir, the film narrates a developing relationship between two individuals from different social strata, in the milieu of the 1970 cyclone. Bulbul Ahmed and Jayasree Kabir were applauded for their credible performances in the film. Songs composed by Bhupen Hazarika, like Bimoorto Ei Ratri Amar, became hugely popular.

Boshundhara (1977): Based on 23 Number Tailochitra by author Alauddin Al Azad, the movie directed by Subhasha Dutta was another movie that the sophisticated moviegoers appreciated. The movie introduced actor Iliyas Kanchan in the character of the protagonist. Bobita played the female lead.

Shareng Bou (1978): The movie directed by Abdullah Al Mamun was adapted from a novel by noted writer Shahidullah Kaiser. The film based on the lives of people living in our costal areas, was admired by many while stirring up controversy for some bold statements it made. Kabori and Faruk portrayed the lead characters. A song from the film, O Rey Neel Doriya, became one of the most treasured movie tunes in our country.

Golapi Akhon Train-e (1978): A brilliant film made by Amjad Hossain on the oppressed have-nots of rural Bangladesh, Golapi Akhon Train-e, enjoyed a phenomenal success. The movie showcasing talented actors Rowshan Jamil, Bobita, and a also brought to attention the issue of inequitable treatment of women.

Dumurer Phool (1978): The first film made in our country on differently-abled children. Child artiste Shakil was incredibly convincing in the role, so much so, many initially believed he was differently-abled in reality. Directed by Subhash Dutta, the film was honoured at international film festivals.

Shurjodighal Bari (1979): Jointly directed by Mashihuddin Shaker and Sheikh Niamat Ali, the film denotes realism in the most unpretentious way like Satyajit Ray's classic Pother Panchali does. Among films that were financed by the Bangladesh government, this was the first to be released. Set in the post World War II era, the movie depicts the eternal struggles of the exploited poor in our country who often become drifters. Rowshan Jamil, Dolly Anwar, Keramat Moula, and Elora Gohar played the major characters in the movie, which received several National Awards.

Chhutir Ghonta (1980): Based on a report covered by newspapers, the movie narrates the tragic end of child who gets locked in his school-toilet. Directed by Azizur Rahman, the movie became the talk of the nation for the credible performance by child artiste in the lead role.

Guddi (1980): Directed by Syed Salahuddin Zaki, Guddi focused on the contemporary issues, frustrations and inspirations of the urban youth. Known faces of the small screen, Raisul Islam Asad and Subarna Mustafa played the lead characters in the film. Abar Elo Je Shondhya, a song composed by Happy Akhand, which was used in the film, became a major hit.

Devdas (1982): The first film made in the country that was adapted from the timeless work by Saratchandra Chatyopadhyay. Directed by Chashi Nazrul Islam, the film featured Bulbul Ahmed and Kabori in the central roles. Through this movie, a trend of adapting literary works by the masters began.

Boro Bhalo Lok Chhilo (1982): An original movie about the modernised son of a holy man in a rural area. After the cleric's demise, the superstitious locals decide that his son should be their spiritual leader and the movie depicts the educated, rational youth's dilemmas. Hairey Manush Rongin Phanush, a song from the movie was well liked by the audience. Razzaque and Anju were in the lead roles.

Shubhoda (1986): The movie to receive the highest number of National Awards so far, Shubhoda, is a big screen adaptation of Saratchandra's novel of the same title. The film depicted the conservative Hindu society in the early 20th century. Directed by Chashi Nazrul Islam, the movie starred Razzaque, a, and Zeenat.

Beder Meye Jyotsna (1989): Commercially, the most successful Bangladeshi movie till date, Beder Meye Jyotsna revived a keen interest in folklore among filmmakers and audiences alike; a trend that was initiated by Roopban in the 1960s. Starring Iliyas Kanchan and Anju, the movie was so popular that even West Bengal made a version of it.

Chandni (1991): Veteran filmmaker Ehtesham made a comeback in Bangla films with two fresh faces -- Shabnaz and Nayeem. The on-screen couple instantly became heartthrobs of the young movie fans and thus made way for more newcomers in our film arena.

Padma Nadir Majhi (1993): Based on the timeless literary work by Manik Bandyopadhyay, Padma Nadir Majhi was directed by Gautam Ghosh. The movie illustrates the tumultuous lives of the fishermen and their families, living by the river Padma. Beautiful shots of the river, Ghosh's flair for realism and brilliant display of acting skills by noted actors of Bangladesh and West Bengal, including Utpal Dutt, Robi Ghosh, Abul Khayer, Raisul Islam Asad, Champa, and Rupa Ganguli, fetched the movie local and international honours.

Aguner Poroshmoni (1994): Celebrated author Humayun Ahmed's directorial debut, Aguner Poroshmoni is perhaps one of the most poignant narratives of our Liberation War. The cast consisting of seasoned TV actors, Abul Hayat, Dolly Zahur, Asaduzzaman Noor, and Bipasha Hayat made the tale of a middle-class family sheltering a Freedom Fighter in war-torn Dhaka, gripping and convincing.

Dipu Number 2 (1996): Directed by Morshedul Islam, Dipu Number 2, is based on a widely popular book for children by Muhammad Zafar Iqbal. Starring Arun Shaha, Bobita and Bulbul Ahmed, the movie about an adolescent's adventures was well received by the youngsters as well as adults.

Hothat Brishti (1999): A West Bengal-Bangladesh joint production, Hothat Brishti, was directed by Bashu Chatterjee and introduced Ferdaus as a film actor. The movie was premiered on BTV, starting a trend of releasing movies in theatres and holding their TV premiers simultaneously.

Srabon Megher Din (2000): The second movie directed by Humayun Ahmed. Revolving around a folk singer, his love interest and the local aristocratic family's involvement, the movie offered some beautiful folk songs like Amar Gaye Joto Dukhkho Shoy by Bari Siddiqui. Golam Mustafa, Zahid Hasan, Mahfuz, Mukti and Shaon played the main characters in the film.

Kittankhola (2000): Directed by Abu Sayeed, the film was adapted from a stage play by Selim Al Deen. Featuring Raisul Islam Asad and Naila Azad Nupur, the film brings to light the lives of jatra artistes and their struggles to make a living off the dying performing art.

Meghla Akash (2002): Starring Shabana Azmi, Meghla Akash, was one of the first feature films made in the subcontinent that dealt with the issue of HIV/AIDS. Nargis Akhter directed the movie. Moushumi and Ayyub Khan played other major roles in the film.

Matir Moina (2002): Directed by Tareque Masud, the film was initially banned from public screening by the Censor Board as it was deemed too religiously sensitive. The audience experiences the social and political turmoil during the 1960s, religious extremism and prevalent superstitions through the eyes of a young madrasa student. Matir Moina became the first feature film from Bangladesh to be selected for presentation at the world-renowned Cannes Film Festival. At Cannes, it was given the honour of being the opening film of the Directors' Fortnight section, and also won the International Critics' Prize for best film in the section. Jayanto Chatyopadhyay, Rokeya Prachee, child artistes Nurul Islam Bablu and Russell Farazi delivered commendable performances in the movie.

Lalshalu (2002): Based on Syed Waliullah's timeless creation, Lalshalu embodies the age-old tale of superstitions and naive villagers who are exploited by quacks posing as religious leaders. Raisul Islam Asad as Majid was impeccable and newcomer Chandni was impressive. The movie, directed by Tanvir Mokammel, was invited to several international film festivals and was well received by critics and movie enthusiasts.

Bachelor (2004): After years of alienating themselves from outlandish mainstream Bangla films, the educated urban youth headed to the movies to see Bachelor. Directed by Mostafa Sarwar Farooki, the film gives a true to life picture of the contemporary young urbanites and the predicaments they encounter. Popular actors Ferdaus, Shabnoor, and Aupi Karim played the central characters of the film. Songs in the film, composed by ace musicians like Ayub Bachchu, SI Tutul, and Bappa Majumdar added to the attraction.

Jaijatra (2004): Actor Tauquir Ahmed made his directorial debut with the film. Set in the milieu of the Liberation War, the overused theme of young men going to war was not the highlight of the movie. Instead it narrated an amazing tale of human endurance and budding relationships between people of different classes and creed during a catastrophe. Bipasha Hayat's famous histrionics were aptly used in the role of a mother who has just lost her only child in the mayhem created by the Pakistani soldiers' entry to the village. Other major roles played by Abul Hayat, Humayun Faridee, Tariq Anam Khan, Azizul Hakim, and Mahfuz were applauded. The film has been acclaimed nationally and internationally.

source: http://www.banglatorrents.com/showthread.php?t=2994
It seems that the above info is available in another blog: http://www.vabantar.com/Movie_Best_BDmovie.htm

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cafe Pyala: The Real Blasphemers

I totally agree with this blogger's writeup about the recent assassination of Salman Taseer.

Cafe Pyala: The Real Blasphemers: "'Mera azm itna buland hai ke paraye shaulon ka dar nahinMujhe khauf aatish-e-gul se hai, ye kaheen chaman ko jala ne de'[My resolve is so st..."

(originally posted on 5th Jan. 2011)

Friday, January 07, 2011

The Two Irfans of Pakistani print media

Just compare the latest columns of Irfan Husain of Dawn and Irfan Siddiqi of Jang both talking about similar issues but poles apart in logic.

More rose petals

"Qadri finally arrived and was feted with rose petals by supporters for the second day running."

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Proposed Amendments to Pakistan Blasphemy Law

I am posting this blog entry by Xavier Williams on the above topic as it not only introduces the proposed amendments to the (now controversial) laws but also provides a historical backdrop of how they culminated into current form, starting from 1927. Please read on....

Sherry Rehman, Member of National Assembly, has through a bill proposed amendments to certain sections of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) along with a suggestion to introduce two new sections. These provisions prescribe punishments for Offenses Relating to Religion. Her bill also includes changes to Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) regarding arrest, cognizance and trial of offenses under these provisions.

Proposed changes to punishments

Section 295-A was introduced in 1927 apparently after the Ghazi Ilm Din episode to provide punishment for deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs. The maximum punishment under section 295-A was two years’ imprisonment of either description till 1991 when it was increased to 10 years. The bill proposes it to revert it to a maximum of two years.

Similarly, punishment for the offence of defiling of the Holy Qur’an under section 295-B introduced in 1982 by General Zia, is proposed to be reduced to imprisonment up to 5 years instead of life imprisonment.

Another blasphemy law, section 295-C, introduced in 1986 provided punishment of death or life imprisonment and fine for use of derogatory remarks in respect of the Prophet Mohammad. However, a Federal Shariat Court judgment in 1990 (cited as PLD 1991 FSC 10) rendered alternative sentence of imprisonment for life under 295-C inapplicable and death sentence compulsory, after the Court found alternative punishment of life imprisonment under 295-C against the injunctions of Islam. Sherry Rehman’s bill proposes imprisonment of either description for 10 years, or with fine, or both as punishment under section 295-C.

To read the rest of the blog, click here:

And, if you want to read the text of the law, here is the link:

Between 1986 and 2010, 986 people have been charged under the blasphemy laws; 50 per cent of those are non-Muslim. None of the accused has been hanged.