The monster of population is ever increasing in size and magnitude in spite of the best efforts by centre and State Governments as also our social organizations. A billion people in India by the end of May, 2000. This means that every sixth person on the globe is Indian. How shall we able to meet our basic needs of food, shelter, drinking water, health and sanitation, and air in which we could not slow down the pace of increasing population, what to speak of stopping it?
A very well documented National population policy, 2000 has just been released. This is most timely and the crucial need of the already suffocating billion people especially in the face of the National census due in 2001.
National population policy 2010 envisages bringing the fertility rate to replacement level by the end of 2010 and thereby stabilizing the population by 2045. The policy was approved by the Union Minister for Health; the population control can be better achieved by improving the standard of living mainly of those living below poverty line by laying more stress on child welfare is-a-vis child survival, empowerment of women and cooperation of men in Planned Parenthood. Accordingly the policy embraces a holistic approach stressing upon the needs for contraceptives, healthcare, infrastructure, maternal health, and child care and child health.
A number of promotional and motivational measures have been outlined to obtain the small family objective. Some of the areas to receive greater attention under this new policy are ante-natal care, institutional delivery by trained nurses and BCG. Immunization etc. health insurance scheme for couples living below the poverty line who undergo sterilization with not more than two living children has been provided in policy. Some of the incentives are: a special reward for those who marry after the legally accepted age for marriage, get their marriage registered, bear the first child after the mother attains the age of 21, adopt the small family norm and adopt a terminal method after the birth of second child.
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Leaving the eligible couples apart even panchayats and zila parishad will be eligible for rewards if they perform well in universalizing the small family norm, bring down infant mortality rate, promote literacy, help children complete primary education, provide crèches and child care centers in rural areas and encourage participation, of women in paid employment.
In order to secure the objectives laid down under the population policy, the government is keen on strict enforcement of the child marriage Restraint Act and the pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act.
For the proper implementation of the Policy a National Commission on population, under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister has been proposed. The commission will include the Chief Ministers of states, Union Minister for family welfare and other ministers besides reputed demographers, public health professionals and representatives of N.G.O.S. the state level commission will be headed by the corresponding Chief Minister. Along with this there will be a co-ordination cell within the planning Commission to ensure inter-sect oral between different ministers.
It is unfortunate that the policy does not include “Disincentives” such as denial of subsidized ration, health care facilities, and right to vote, to those violating 2-child norm and compulsory vasectomy or sterilization for couples already having two or more children. In a sacred cause like this politics seems to have crept in. the proposal to debar those who violate 2-child norm from contesting election to parliament was struck down by the so called representatives of the masses who claim to be custodians of the nations. Let us hope that the policy is successfully implemented in letter and spirit. Therein lays the salvation of the nation.