Bulging population a cause for concern’
Azad Writes To PM For A Discussion In Parliament In the Monsoon Session
Kounteya Sinha | TNN
New Delhi: The issue of India's swelling population has now reached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's doorstep. Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, in a letter to the PM, has requested him to stipulate half a day or one full day in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to thrash out population stabilisation issues in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament.
The letter, a copy of which is available with TOI, also talks about launching a special population control and family planning campaign in seven northern states where fertility rate continues to be high.
"Over the last decade, family planning programme per se lost focus, adversely impacting on our ability to achieve the desired level of population growth. Of particular concern is the high fertility that continues to persist in almost all the northern states and Orissa," Azad wrote.
The minister went on to say that there were examples around the world which indicated that vigorous implementation of family planning policies in a humane and ethical manner could "help India achieve desired results within a decade".
Azad also urged MPs, cutting across party lines, to come forward and play a substantive advocacy role and help create awareness for family planning. "This letter is to request you to kindly agree to the suggestion of having a debate in the two Houses of Parliament during the forthcoming session," Azad said.
Demographic projections show that if the current status of population growth continues, India will cross China as the most populous nation by 2030. According to information with the National Population Stabilisation Fund, India's population grew five times in the last 100 years.
At present, India's population stands at 1,198 million to China's 1,345.8 million. While average population growth in China was 0.6% between 2005-10, it was 1.4% in India.
Projections are that by 2050, India will be home to 1,613.8 million people compared to China's 1,417 million.
In 2009, India's average fertility rate was 2.68 while China's was 1.77. While some states like Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi have already achieved replacement level fertility, others will take many more years like Uttar Pradesh (2027), Madhya Pradesh (2025), Chhattisgarh (2022), Bihar (2021), Assam (2019), Gujarat (2012), Rajasthan (2021) and Haryana (2012).
According to Azad, population stabilisation is vital for India's future as the country has 17% of the world's population with only 2.5% of global land.
Small families are therefore important. Azad said strict implementation of late marriages, laws about age of marriage and delayed first child with proper spacing may help in dealing with the population problem.
One major problem fuelling this population boom is the high number of women who are married off before reaching the age of 18.
In Bihar, 70% women marry before 18, while the figures for other states are Rajasthan 62%, UP and MP 59%, Jharkhand and West Bengal 58%, Andhra Pradesh 56% and Karnataka 54%.
As a result, one-fourth of teenage girls become pregnant or mothers by 18.
The UN has warned that the number of people at present -- 6.7 billion -- would double in the next 40 years if growth rates remained unchecked. This would result in famine, disease and struggles over resources.