IF political power is a matter of how fecund you are, then Indians south of the Vindhyas have cause for worry. While they have managed to rein in their reproductive rates in the last three decades, their cousins up north, despite crores of rupees spent in family planning programmes, have miserably failed to keep their families small. The result: a demographic North-South divide that may, paradoxically enough, tilt the scales of political power in favour of the North.
Political representation in the Lok Sabha is due for revision after the 25-year-old freeze on Parliamentary seats lapses next year. If the revision is based on the 2001 census, the four southern states would-according to calculations based on future population projections-have to give up a few of their seats in favour of the North. In this scenario, UP would gain about 8 seats, Rajasthan 4, Madhya Pradesh 3 and Haryana 1, while Tamil Nadu would lose 6 seats, Kerala 4, and Andhra Pradesh 1.