Experts believe that the “population explosion” theory is contentious as despite its 1.37 billion people, India’s birth rates have been falling.

New Delhi: Drawing from prime minister Narendra Modi’s Independence day speech, the NITI Aayog will soon start drafting a roadmap for “population stabilisation” in India. On Friday, it organised a national consultation titled “Realising the vision of population stabilisation: leaving no one behind” with the Population Foundation of India (PFI) in the national capital.

“The consultative meeting (with PFI)…will bring together senior officials, experts and subject matter specialists to discuss ways and means of strengthening India’s population policy and family planning programmes,” said an official statement by the institution.

NITI Aayog hopes that it will be able to include recommendations from the meeting in the working paper on population stabilisation it will soon release.

On August 15, 2015, Modi, while urging people to do “proper family planning”, had expressed concern over “population explosion” that may pose challenges for India’s future.

“A small section of society, which keeps their families small, deserves respect. What they are doing is an act of patriotism,” he had said.

The Aayog’s initiative comes four months after his speech.

“The working paper is expected to address key gaps in India’s family planning programmes. It will offer constructive recommendations to address regional disparities in outcomes by focusing on adolescents and youths, inter-departmental convergence, demand generation, access to contraceptive services and quality of care,” it said.

Experts believe that the “population explosion” theory is contentious as despite its 1.37 billion people, India’s birth rates have been falling. Some also believe that if the government uses its people judiciously for the nation’s growth, the high population of India could also be an asset.

However, policy makers appear to be more worried about the fact that 30% of Indian citizens are young and fall in the reproductive age group. Because of this factor, the population continues to grow.

“Family planning is considered universally as the smartest development investment For India to realize its sustainable development goals and economic aspirations, it is important to ensure that people have informed access to contraception and quality family planning services,” the Aayog said, while adding that the budgetary allocation for the said goals may have to be increased.

Since the 1970s, India has devoted substantial attention to family planning. Barring a few years in the late 1970s, when the Congress-led regime forcibly pushed a large section of Indian population towards vasectomy and tubectomy surgeries, the programme has worked with a good degree of success. The public health machinery has had family planning on top of its agenda.

It remains to be seen what new and democratic dimensions the NITI Aayog brings to the table.

(Courtesy The Wire)