The production and consumption of our Earth’s resources depend on the population of the world and there is a direct impact of the population of a particular country on its available resources. The newly independent India of the 1950s was adamant to control its population soon after the population explosion of 1951 which had not dropped below 25 crores since 1921 (also known as the year of the ‘Great Divide’). The National Population Policy was a result of the Bhore Committee set up in 1946 and the Family Planning Committee set up in 1976. But it was only in 1983 that the government adopted the National Health Policy, which emphasized the need for ‘securing the small family norm through voluntary efforts and moving towards the goal of population stabilization. Subsequently, the National Development Council (not effective anymore) under the leadership of  K. Karunakaran recommended the formation of the NPP in the year 2000 to take a long-term holistic view of development, population growth, and environ­mental protection’ and to ‘suggest policies and guidelines [for] formulation of programmes’ and ‘a monitoring mechanism with short- medium- and long-term perspectives and goals’.

Objectives and Goals

The NPP 2000 emphasised a series of important measures including an increase in the monetary compensation for sterilization, introduction of ‘population education in the Indian education system, increase in the usage of mass media in rural areas to increase awareness about family planning and contraceptives etc and thus sought to promote responsible and planned parenthood on a voluntary basis, aiming to freeze the population figures at the 1971 level until 2001 till the farthest extent possible. Broadly, the NPP 2000 can be summed up into three main objectives: short, middle and long term objectives.

Short term objectives:

  1. To address the unmet needs for contraception, healthcare infrastructure and health personnel.
  2. To provide integrated service delivery in consonance with the guidelines of WHO.

Middle term objectives:

  1. To control the population through intersectoral operational strategies which include intersectoral collaboration between health and education to prevent problems like adolescent pregnancy and thus bring down the total fertility rate.

Long term objectives:

  1. To achieve a stable population by the year 2045 by attempting to satisfy the economic needs of the present generation but in a manner that sustains natural resources and the environment for future generations.

The following goals were formulated to be achieved in the first decade after the introduction of the National Population Policy in 2000:

  1. To address the unmet needs for basic reproduction (contraception), child health services, supplies and infrastructure (health personnel).
  2. To make school education up to age 14 free and compulsory and reduce dropouts at primary and secondary school levels to below 20 per cent for both boys and girls.
  3. To reduce the infant mortality rate to below 30 per 1,000 live births.
  4. To reduce the maternal mortality rate to below 100 per 100,000 live births.
  5. To achieve universal immunization of children against all vaccine-preventable diseases.
  6. To promote delayed marriages for girls, not earlier than age 18 and preferably after 20 years of age.
  7. To achieve universal access to information/counselling, and services for fertility regulation and contraception with a wide basket of choices.
  8. To achieve 80 per cent institutional deliveries and 100 per cent deliveries by trained persons.
  9. To achieve 100 per cent registration of births, deaths, marriages and pregnancies
  10. To prevent and control communicable diseases, especially AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  11. To promote vigorously the small family norm.
  12. To integrate Indian Systems of Medicine (ISM) in the provision of repro­ductive and child health services, and in reaching out to households.

In order to achieve these goals, certain promotional and motivational measures were also undertaken.

Current Outlook

Despite all the efforts and steps taken towards population control and family planning, the programme has failed to deliver any kind of desired results. According to a UNICEF report, in India, 67,385 births happen in a day. The reasons for the programme’s failure can be attributed to several reasons including large size of the population in the reproductive age group, higher fertility due to unmet needs of contraception, higher desire for fertility due to high infant mortality rate, ignorance of the rural masses about birth control techniques and the preference of a male child etc.

Arati Jose

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