Practice Question – What were the salient features of the India’s Population Policy (2000)? How far its goals have been achieved?  [UPSC 2020]

Approach – Introduction, List the features of Indian Population Policy 2000, What were the targets?, How successful were we in achieving the targets?, Suggest Measures, Conclusion. 


The existence of an optimal population size for a given territory has long been a subject of debate among economists, and it is now being examined by ecologists. Let’s imagine the very first settlers in a previously uninhabited area. To begin with, they need to increase their numbers as rapidly as possible. As the population grows, it becomes more economically and socially structured, and productivity increases. As time goes by, the process will reverse, however: productivity will fall and living conditions may deteriorate to the point where life expectancy decreases, unless other measures such as out-migration or fertility reduction are implemented to achieve zero population growth. 

The current population of India is 1,391,864,443 as of Tuesday, May 18, 2021, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data.
India 2020 population is estimated at 1,380,004,385 people at mid year according to UN data.
Indian population is equivalent to 17.7% of the total world population.
India ranks number 2 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
The population density in India is 464 per Km2 (1,202 people per mi2).
The total land area is 2,973,190 Km2 (1,147,955 sq. miles) 35.0 % of the population is urban (483,098,640 people in 2020)
The median age in India is 28.4 years.


Pre-Independence Period
Before independence, the Britishers did not consider population growth as a problem. Their attitude towards birth control was one of indifference because they never wanted to interfere with the values, beliefs, customs and traditions of Indians. That is why this phase is called the Period of Indifference. However, the intelligensia in India was aware of the problem of growing population and did advocate birth control. Among them P.K. Wattal was the pioneer who wrote a book on Population Problem in India in 1916, followed by R.D. Karve, Rabindranath Tagore, P.N. Sapru, Jawaharlal Nehru and Bhore Committee among others who advocated birth control.

The Period of Neutrality, 1947-51
The period following independence and before the beginning of the planning era was one of neutrality. The Government of India was busy with the post-independence problems like rehabilitation of the people following the Partition, reorganisation of the States and Pakistan’s invasion of Kashmir. However, at one of the meetings of the Planning Commission in 1949, Jawaharlal Nehru laid emphasis on the need for family planning programme in India.

The Period of Experimentation, 1951-61
During the first decade (1951-61) of planned economic development, family planning as a method of population control was started as a government programme in India. The National Family Planning Programme was launched in 1952 with the objective of “reducing birth rate to the extent necessary to stabilise the population at a level consistent with the requirement of the national economy.” This programme was started on an experimental basis with a Plan outlay of Rs. 65 lakh in the First Plan and Rs. 5 crore in the Second Plan. It was based on Clinical Approach to provide service to those who were motivated to visit family planning centres set up by the Government.

The Beginning of the Population Control Policy 1961 to 2000
With the rapid growth of population in the 1961 Census by 21.5 per cent, the Extension Approach to family planning was adopted in the Third Plan. This approach emphasised the adoption of an educational approach to family planning through Panchayat Samitis, Village Development Committees and other groups so as to change the attitudes, behaviour and knowledge of the people towards family planning. The family planning programme was also made target oriented and Rs. 27 crore were allocated during the Plan for this purpose. The target was to reduce the birth rate to 25 per 1000 persons by 1973. To make this programme more popular, Cafeteria Approach was adopted.
Under it, the couples were given advice on different types of family planning methods to be adopted. The choice of a particular method was left to them. For the effective working of the family planning programme, a separate Department of Family Welfare was created in the Ministry of Health and Family Planning in 1966.
The 1971 Census showed a rapid growth in population by 24.6 per cent. To control this, the Fifth Plan laid down the ambitious target of reducing the birth rate to 30 per 1000 by the end of the Plan (1978-79) and to 25 per 1000 by 1983-84.

New Population Policy in 1977
(a) Renaming the family planning programme into family welfare programme;
(b) Fixing the marriage age for girls at 18 years and for boys at 21 years. This has been implemented by the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act, 1978;
(c) Making sterilisation voluntary;
(d) Including population education as part of normal course of study;
(e) Monetary incentive to those who go in for sterilization and tubectomy;
(f) Private companies to be exempted in corporate taxes if they popularise birth control measures among employees;
(g) Use of media for spreading family planning in rural areas, etc. this policy put an end to compulsory sterilisation and laid emphasis on voluntary sterilization.

National Population Policy, 2000
India’s population reached 100 crore on May 11, 2000 and it is estimated that if current trends of population increase continue she will become the most populous country in the world by 2045 when it would overtake China. During the 20th century, India’s population increased nearly five times from 23 crore to 100 crore, while during the same period world’s population increased nearly three times from 200 crore to 600 crore.
1. The Immediate Objective:
The immediate objective is to address the unmet needs for contraception, health care infrastructure and health personnel and to provide integrated service delivery for basic reproductive and child health care.
2. The Medium Term Objective:
The medium term objective is to bring the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) to replacement level by 2010 through vigorous implementation in inter-sectorial operational strategies.
3. The Long Term Objective:
The long term objective is to achieve a stable population by 2045 at a level consistent with the requirements of sustainable economic growth, social development, and environment protection.

The following are the targets of National Population Policy:
1. Achieve zero growth rate of population by 2045.
2. Reduce infant mortality rate of below 30 per thousand live births.
3. Reduce maternal mortality ratio of below 100 per 1, 00,000 live births.
4. Reduce birth rate to 21 per 1000 by 2010.
5. Reduce total fertility rate (TFR) to 2.1 by 2010.

India has the potential to achieve a much faster pace of economic growth than both China and the US. Its demographic profile should increase growth through five distinct forces. The first is the swelling of India’s labour force as its baby boomers reach working age. The second is the potential to divert resources from spending on children to investing in physical and human infrastructure. The third is a rise in women’s workforce activity that naturally accompanies a decline in fertility. The fourth is that working ages also happen to be the prime years for savings, which is key to the accumulation of capital and technological innovation. And the fifth is the further boost to savings that occurs as the incentive to save for longer periods of retirement increases with greater longevity.

For Malthus, economic production increased arithmetically and would be unable to keep pace with the needs of a population that, for its part, increased exponentially. His idea was used by neo-Malthusians to convince developing countries that birth control policies were needed to slow down excessive population growth. To catch up with rich countries, the poor countries needed to invest massively in order to develop their economy and educate their future workforce. How could they hope to do so if population growth outpaced the increase in production? It was on these grounds that many developing countries implemented sometimes draconian birth control policies.


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