NEW DELHI: Nearly a month after Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined the need of population control in his Independence Day speech, the government’s top think tank recently held a meeting to discuss past and existing examples of population control measures adopted in the country.
The NITI Aayog now plans to hold further meetings to formalise ideas that can then be proposed to the Prime Minister’s Office.
This newspaper had first reported last month that the Aayog is mulling a national level population policy intervention following the PM’s nudge from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
“We recently met internally to discuss what models of incentives and disincentives have been used in states and nationally before. A detailed roadmap will be prepared soon,” a top source in the think tank said. NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajeev Kumar, along with several other senior officials of the agency, is learnt to have participated in the meeting.
Among the models discussed in the meeting, said sources, were examples from states that have adopted a limited two-child policy and sterilisation programme introduced by the Congress government in 1975.
“The implications of the policies that are implemented by prohibiting people with more than two children from serving in government or holding political positions were also discussed,” an official said.
A criticism of such policies is that it leads to a decrease in the number of women in government positions and also encourages sex-selective abortions.
The country has a population size of 1.37 billion and as per National Family Health Survey figures, the Total Fertility Rate in India decreased from 3.4 in 1992-93 to 2.2 in 2015-16, only marginally higher than the replacement rate of 2.1. Twenty-four states have already reached the replacement level of TFR 2.1, the data shows.
Poonam Muttreja of the Population Foundation of India pointed out that states which have already reached replacement levels have done so by ensuring better development indices such as higher literacy rate among women, quality health infrastructure and easy access to family planning methods.
“And the same model is sufficient to reduce fertility rates in states that are lagging behind,” she added.