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What India needs for population stabilisation


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Replacement level of fertility

Mains level : Paper 1- Population stabilisation

Achieving replacement levels of fertility

  • The National Population Policy 2000 affirmed a commitment to achieve replacement levels of fertility (total fertility rate of 2.1) by 2010.
  • Ten states — Karnataka, Punjab, Gujarat, Assam, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala — and Jammu and Kashmir, have achieved this goal.
  • This fertility decline over half of India has cut across all sections of society — the privileged and the poor, those educated or not, and the high and low caste.
  • The National Family Health Survey-4 has shown how TFR has reduced even among illiterate women from all religions in the southern states.

Growing gap between North-South

  • The difference between the progressive South and the Central- North is becoming disproportionately skewed.
  • UP and Bihar are 23 per cent of India’s population and are projected to grow by over 12 per cent and 20 per cent in the next 15 years.
  • Their high TFR pervades all religious groups.
  • Action to prevent unwanted pregnancies particularly in these two Hindi belt states is urgently required.
  • For decades UP has had a dedicated agency — SIFPSA (State Innovations in Family Planning Services Agency). But its website gives dated information.
  • Women in rural UP are still giving birth to four or more children.
  • In some districts, the contraceptive prevalence rate is less than 10 per cent.
  • In many districts neither Hindus nor Muslims use modern family planning methods.
  • In such a scenario, demographics will eclipse economic growth and destroy the gains from a young populace.
  • UP’s over-reliance on traditional methods of contraception needs to be swiftly replaced with reliable and easy alternatives.
  • Bihar has the highest fertility rate in the country and also the highest outmigration.

Which method  should be used

  • While national and state policies emphasise male vasectomy, politicians never champion its adoption.
  • No other country in the world uses female sterilisation as excessively as India.
  • Indonesia and Bangladesh introduced injectables right from the late 1980s but India only did so in 2016.
  • Executed properly, one jab renders protection from pregnancy for three months.
  • This method needs greater impetus given the helplessness of women who carry the burden of unwanted pregnancies.

Way forward

  • Three things are needed:
  • 1) Incentivise later marriages and child births.
  • 2) Make contraception easy for women.
  • 3) Promote women’s labour force participation.
  •  Some other disturbing nationwide trends must also be counteracted without delay because stabilisation isn’t only about controlling population growth.
  • A balanced sex ratio is essential to secure social cohesion.
  • The inheritance law favouring women’s rights to ancestral property is far from being implemented.
  • And then there is ageing. Paradoxically, it is the Southern states that will face problems in future.
  • Having largely redeemed their demographic dividend, the cohort of the elderly will start outstripping the working age population.
  • The theoretical possibility that younger people from the Central-Northern states may fill the growing gap in services will need strong political support.
  • The freeze on the state-wise allocation of seats in Parliament until 2026 was extended through the Constitutional (84th Amendment) Act, 2002, to serve “as a motivational measure to pursue population stabilisation”.
  • This goal has not been achieved.
  • In the absence of further extension, it will be politically destabilising.

Consider the question “India’s efforts at populations stabilisation still remains work in progress, as the Northern states fail to achieve the targets. Suggest the ways to deal with the issue.”


The population momentum, if managed properly in the Hindi belt, will remain India’s biggest asset until 2055. By 2040, India will be the undisputed king of human capital.

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