M A I N   N E W S

Coercion no means to stabilise population: PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 23
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said coercion of any kind for achieving population stabilisation is unacceptable in a free society.

Chairing the first meeting of the reconstituted National Commission on Population here today, the Prime Minister called for a three-pronged approach focussing on the welfare of women and girls, enhancement of health and educational levels and balanced regional development.

He made it clear that the government’s policy “does not encourage incentives and disincentives as they have, at best, only a marginal impact and sometimes may even cause resentment and non-acceptance of the programme”.

The Prime Minister said the government’s approach placed fertility reduction in the broader context of evolving an effective development strategy that focussed its attention on elimination of poverty, empowerment of women and offered choice in limiting family size.

Agreeing that human resource was an inevitable asset for a developing nation, the Prime Minister said the environment should be able to sustain the population in the long run. “Therefore, sustainability of development process requires a degree of population stabilisation.”

Mr Manmohan Singh asked the commission not to mistake population stabilisation to be population control. He said population stabilisation was a challenge and drew attention to projection of increase in India’s population from 110 crore at present to 140 crore by 2026.

He referred to widespread consensus that population stabilisation entailed a holistic, comprehensive approach towards education and healthcare, particularly of women and children.

The Prime Minister said unless India’s population policy was integrated with its wider development policy, it could never achieve the objective of population stabilisation within a reasonable time frame.

“The link between social and human development and demographic trends is obvious and too stark to ignore.”

He urged states with high population growth to learn from the experience of Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu that had higher scores in the human development index.

Mr Manmohan Singh said the government was committed to economic and social empowerment of women and girls. “We need to empower adolescent girls and young women so that they can make informed choices about their lives and the size of their families. This empowerment played a critical role in accelerating the demographic transition not just in states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu but across the world,” he said.

The Prime Minister said an effective old age care system along with a focussed drive to reduce infant mortality would reduce the incentives for having large families.

He said population stabilisation was a national endeavour and everybody must work together to achieve this task and give it the shape of a mass national movement. He said the challenge of population management was to empower people so that those who were perceived as liabilities could be effectively transformed into assets.

“A literate, gainfully employed and socially, culturally and economically productive person is a national asset,” he said.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |