Sunday, April 30, 2006

Babies’ day out in Pensioners’ Paradise

Babies’ day out in Pensioners’ Paradise
Changing Demographics See A Sharp Rise In Number Of Births In Bangalore
The Times of India

Bangalore: In the 45-apartment Vaswani Golf Vista off the Airport Road in Bangalore, 10-year-old Sohrab is the oldest child, way older than the other children. The majority of them are below the age of one-anda-half years — there’s Oishani, Sneha, Veda, Antara, Brisha and Anshul. One young couple, Manu and Tannu, have just had a baby. And at least four more young couples are expecting babies over the next few months.

This pensioners’ paradise of a decade ago is turning rapidly into its veritable opposite, a baby boom city. The influx of youngsters from across the country into Bangalore’s IT and BPO businesses is producing what youngsters most typically produce — babies.

Manipal Hospital now handles nearly 150 deliveries a month. It’s a number that has doubled in the past two years, according to Dr Praveena Shenoy of its obstetrics and gynaecology department. About four years ago, it was about 50 a month, and ten years ago, at 25 a month.

In Mallya Hospital, the number of deliveries in the past one year was about 720. Five years ago, this figure was less than half of that, and ten years ago, about 150 a year. (These are phenomenal increases compared with India’s annual population growth rate of 1.7 per cent)

Dr Sushila Shetty, head of Mallya’s obstetrics department, says that in 1985, when she and her husband, paediatrician Dr Vasanth Shetty, completed their studies in the UK and planned to move to Bangalore — instead of the “congested and polluted” Mumbai — many relatives discouraged them with statements like ‘You are going to a pensioners’ city; how are you going to practise?’. Dr Shetty says, “For a while, we wondered whether we had made the right decision. But today we have a baby boom in Bangalore, and even the increase in resident doctors in our hospital in the past few years is inadequate.”

The phenomenon is seen to be the natural fallout of the exponential increase in the numbers of people in the 25-35 years age group (the reproductive age group) in Bangalore, combined with their growing economic security.
The average age of employees in the city’s IT companies is 25 to 27 years.

IT companies say the number of women taking maternity leave has increased sharply in the past few years. Veena Padmanabhan, group manager (HR) in Wipro, says 650 of the total 11,000 women employees took maternity leave in the past two years.

“Bangalore’s demography has changed, it’s become young. So a baby boom is inevitable,” she says.


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