UPSC IAS exam preparation - Post-Independence India - Lecture 3


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Population and its issues

[हिंदी में पढ़ें ]

1.0 Introduction

The study of population always occupies a very important place in socio-economics. Data provided by the census is vital for the government to plan and implement schemes. It also gives us insights into the future. The data and the growth rates are extrapolated to calculate the resource requirements of the country. Here is a detailed list of relevant numbers.


The quality of population can be judged from life expectancy, the level of literacy and the level of technical training attained by the people of a country. Upto 1981, it was customary to exclude children in the age group 0-4 and then calculate the rate of literacy. However, the Census of 1991 has redefined the concept of literacy. It uses the term "literacy rate" related to population aged seven years and above.

As such, the figures based on the earlier definition are not comparable with those based on the definition adopted in 1991. Notwithstanding the revised definition, the literacy rate improved from 43.7% in 1981 to 52.2 % in 1991, male literacy improved from 56.5% to 64.1 % and female literacy from 29.5% to 39.3% during the same period. There is no doubt that in 1991,352 million persons were literate, but simultaneously, there was a huge mass of 324 million illiterate persons. The growth of literacy rate by 8.5 % during 1981-91 decade, marks a slight improvement over the 1971-81 decade, during which literacy improved by about 7 percentage points. The literacy rate has improved from 52.2 per cent in 1991 to 64.8 per cent in 2001, and to 74.0 percent in 2011. Male literacy has improved from 64.1 percent in 1991 to 75.8 percent in 2001 and 82.14 percent in 2011. Similarly female literacy improved from 39.3 percent is 1991 to 52.1 percent in 2001 and 65.5 percent in 2011. Improvement in literacy during the decade 2001-2011, has been the highest recorded as compared to earlier decades. Not only that literacy has thrown an improvement, the gap between has also narrowed down.
3.0 Qualitative Changes in Population

According to Census 2011, India's population was 121 crores. Out of the total population 51.5 percent are males while 48.5 percent are females. If we leave period between 1911 and 1921, rate of growth of population has shown a receding trend for the first time since the exercise of Census had begun. This means that there has been the growth in population during 2001 and 2011 is less than before, and there has been a sharp decline in decadal growth of population. In the period between 1991 and 2001, population growth rate was 21.5 percent while during the decade 2001-11 it grew by only 17.6 percent. In the last decade 18.1 crore people were added to the population but in decade before this decade total addition to population was 18.3 crore. This means that not only rate of growth of population was lower; less absolute number of people were added to population. Another important thing is that out of total addition in population of 181 million, fewer men were added to population than women. In 2001 Census there were only 15 states which had population growth below 2 percent per annum, now in Census 2011,25 states/ UTs have shown population growth rate of less than 2 percent. 15 states/UTs have shown population growth rate of less than 1.5 percent. Apart from figures of population growth, there are some qualitative changes in population, as indicated by Census 2011.

3.1 Improved Sex Ratio now

Although the proportion of girls in the 0-6 age group has gone down, which is definitely a cause of major concern, but we must realize that natural rate of growth of overall population has come down significantly for the first time. As such decline in the proportion of girls to boys in age group of 0-6 years is indicated by the preliminary results, improvement in overall sex ratio from 927 to 940 is giving a sigh of relief as it indicates at betterment of condition of women in the country. Today female-male ratio is estimated to be highest after 1971 Census. There was a time when declining female-male ratio was being witnessed in many states continuously. But now it is rising in most of the states.

Thus, this improved sex ratio suggest that the steps taken by the governments at the centre and the states for betterment of health facilities and efforts on the part of civil society in creating awareness against ill treatment and atrocities against women are fructifying now. We should be hopeful of reaching a balance between male and females in future.

3.2 India more literate than before

The figures indicate a huge increase in literacy rates. It is well known that in India most people live in the age group of 15-35 and India is considered 'Youngistan', a country with highest number of youth. As such, the quality of the population would play an important role in the development of Country. India today is the world's third most powerful in PPP economic terms. Improving the education facilities could go a long way in making our country even more powerful. Increase in the literacy ratio by 9 percent points is significant in this perspective. Growth would definitely get a boost with a further increase in literacy rate.
3.3 Better female literacy

The numbers also show a better literacy rate for the entire population, both males and females. But it is significant to note that improvement in literacy rate is more in case of female population, which has improved from 53.7 percent in 2001 to 65.5 percent in 2011. In case of men it has improved from 75.3 percent to 82.1 percent during the same period. As such difference in the male female literacy ratio has narrowed down. This difference used to be 22.6 percent points, which has come down to 17.6 percent points. This needs to be further narrowed down.

3.4 Regional disparities also narrowed down

The census also indicates reduction in regional disparities in human development as backward states show better results in terms of quality of population. 25 states have shown population growth of less than 2 percent. Backward states show better results. Six states/ UTs indicate improvement in sex ratio for population under 6 years of age. In terms of literacy not so fortunate states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Orissa etc. have shown better performance than before. For example, in Bihar, where the literacy rate in 2001 was only -47 percent, in 2011 has risen to 64 percent and in Jharkhand literacy rate is up from 53.6 to 67.6 percent. 

3.5 Major cause of concern

A major issue of concern highlighted by Census 2011 is that there are 50 lakh less children in age group 0-6 years in 2011 than 2001. This is obvious outcome of decline in rate of growth of population in the last decade as compared to a decade before. This also indicates that during the last decade birth rate has been much lower now. But in this age group (0-6) the major cause of concern is that in 2001, there were 927 girls for 1000 boys, which has now fell down to 914. 

Thus, except decline in sex ratio in 0-6 age group, other results of the Census 2011 are encouraging in terms of reduction in population growth, literacy rates, over all sex ratio, regional disparities in human development. 


The process of economic development involves the utilization of physical resources of a nation by the labour force of a country so that productive potential in a country is realised. In this effort of development there is no doubt that the labour force of the country makes a positive contribution, but it is equally true that rapidly growing population retards the process of development. The impact of rising population acting as a drag on economic resources is felt in a variety of ways. It would be of interest to examine the problem in this setting.

Population and growth of national and per capita income: During 1980-81 and 2000-01, the annual average growth of net national product was 5.4 per cent and of per capita product (income) was 3.4 per cent. It is expected that population growth rate is likely to decline further in the next three decades to 1.5 per cent per annum, consequently the net increase in per capita income will rise. A high growth rate of population has been a retarding factor to raising the levels of per capita income earlier.

Population and food supply: Ever since Malthus wrote his celebrated Essay on Population, attention was focussed on the problem of population versus food supply. There is no doubt that per capita cultivated area is gradually on the decline in India. Between 1921 and 2001, the cultivated area per capita dropped from 1.11 acres to 0.32 acres, indicating a fall of 71 per cent. To  compensate for this fall in cultivated land-man ratio, it is imperative that efforts be made to raise productivity.

Between 1961 and 2011, total output of food grains (cereals and pulses) increased from 82 million tones to 235 million tones, showing an increase of 187 per cent. But during the same period, population also increased from 439 million to 1210 million, showing an increase of 176 per cent. Consequently, though per capita output of food grains in grams did show an increase, but only marginally from 512 to 532 grams during this period. It may be noted here that actually it can not be considered as per capita availability of food grains for the people, net availability includes net domestic production plus net imports plus change in government stocks. Net production has been taken as 87.5 per cent of the gross production, 12.5 per cent being provided for feed, seed requirements and wastage.Since a major part of the increase in population takes place in the rural areas, it also signifies that the share of family consumption in total food production will increase and much less will be left over as marketable surplus. These are gloomy forebodings which stress the necessity of family limitation.

Population and unemployment: Rising population is accompanied by a rise in the labour force of the community. Hence, it makes the solution of the problem of unemployment more difficult. On the basis of NSS data (55th Round), it has been revealed that the number of unemployed has increased from 20.13 million in 1993-94 to 26.58 million in 1999-2000. As a prpportion of the labour force, the unemployment rate has increased from 6.0 per cent in 1993-94 to 7.32 per cent in 1999-2000. According to Approach Paper of the 11th Plan, the rate of unemployment further increased to 8.3 per cent in 2004-05. In 2011 this increased to 10.5%. The increase in the unemployed both in absolute and relative terms, indicates that during the last 55 years of planning, the five-year plans were not even able to absorb the net additions to the labour force, not to speak of clearing the backlog of unemployed. The problem of unemployment will become far more difficult in the future. Obviously, a significant proportion of the national resources will have to be used to expand employment opportunities to absorb the increasing labour force and the backlog of unemployed left over due to the continuous pressure of a rapidly growing population.
Moreover, India spent only 0.9% of its GDP on public health expenditure: This is much below the level required for achieving the goals of removing malnutrition and control of diseases. The poor are specially affected, because they cannot incur higher out-of-pocket private expenditure an health. The burden of raising public health expenditure to 2-3% of GDP indicates the need to improve medical facilities. Not only that, the burden of providing housing to additional population also requires additional resources.

Increase in population and capital formation: It is quite necessary that national income should grow at the same rate at which population is growing so that the existing level of real per capita income is maintained. The present rate of growth of population in India is 1.5 per cent per annum. To maintain a constant per capita real income, national income must rise at the rate of 1.5 per cent per annum. To achieve this, capital investment is necessary. The capital-output ratio for the Indian economy at present has been estimated at 4.1 which implies that about 4.1 units of capital are needed to bring about an increase of one unit of output. Thus, in order to bring about an increase of national income at the rate of 1.5 per cent, capital accumulation of the order of 6.2 per cent is necessary. George C. Zaidan of the London School of Economics has estimated the proportion of GNP that has to be invested in order to keep per capita income at a constant level. Whereas in the developed countries, the proportion of GNP that is wasted for this purpose is less than 5 per cent, in underdeveloped countries like India, Columbia, Morocco, Brazil, Ghana and Tunisia, it is over 10 per cent. (wasted here means it is not an actual growth but nominal growth due to inflation)

While several other factors such as an in-egalitarian system of land ownership and other forms of property, less emphasis on measures directed to help the weaker sections of the community and slow pace of economic growth in India during the period 1950-51 to 1993-94 are mainly responsible for it (low increase in per capita income), population growth is also an important factor in the situation.

5.0 URBANISATION & Delhi-mumbai

The 15th Census of India conducted in 2011 has thrown up some interesting observations. Census 2011 indicates that rate of growth of population has nosedived in two most populated cities of India, namely Delhi and Mumbai. Delhi's population grew by 44.3 lakhs during 1991-2001 and that of Mumbai (island city and sub-urban) by 20 lakhs. In terms of decadal growth rate, population of Delhi grew by 47 percent, while population of Mumbai grew by 20 percent in that decade. It is worth noting that during that decade 1991-2001, overall population of India grew by 21.5 percent. Now when in the next decade 2001-11, decadal growth of overall population has been recorded at 17.6 percent, there has been an out of proportion fall in population growth in Delhi and Mumbai. Delhi has recorded a growth rate of less than 21 percent during 2001-11, as compared to 47, a decade earlier. Another metro city Mumbai has recorded a much lower growth in population, that is 4.2 percent. If we subdivide Mumbai into island city and sub-urban Mumbai, we find 5.75 percent negative growth in island Mumbai city, whereas sub-urban Mumbai population has recorded a positive but low growth by 8 percent. As such whereas Mumbai recorded an addition to population of 20 lakhs during 1991-01, during 2001-11 it could add hardly 5 lakh to its population and its population could hardly increase from 1.19 crores in 2001 to 1.24 crores in 2011. But it is also true that in terms of density, Mumbai still has highest density of population in the country. Amidst rising trend towards urbanisation in the country and the world, this statistics of slowing down of population growth in metros, forces us to think. Yet it is generally believed that people from other parts of the country migrate to metropolitan cities and thus increase congestion in the metros. It makes life difficult for people and pressure on existing infrastructure grows.

But the 2011 census figures indicate some different picture. Size of Delhi's population grew by 20.96 percent between 2001 and 2011, against the national average of 17.6 percent. It is generally believed that migration of population from other parts of India is the major cause of growth of population in Delhi. There was nothing wrong in this perception, as even during the decade 1991-2001, population of Delhi grew by 47 percent against national decadal rate of growth of population of 21.5 percent. Now that population of Delhi has grown just at just 21 percent against the national average of 17.5, very small number seems to have actually migrated to Delhi. Further if we look at the sex of migrating population we find mostly women have migrated to Delhi. This is proven by the fact that Delhi's sex ratio has improved from only 821 females in 2001 to 866 in 2011 per 1000 of males. National sex ratio is 940 females per thousand of males. This means that now those who migrated from rest of India to Delhi have started bringing their families which is causing increase in sex ratio, as well as increase in overall population of Delhi. Thus fresh migration to Delhi has been minimal.

However, due to the growth rate of 21 percent, primarily due to natural growth, density of population in Delhi, which was 9,340 persons per km in 2001, increased to 11,297 in 2011. Population growth rate has come down from 47 percent during 1991-2001, to only 21 percent in the last decade, which is a big relief. Had this growth rate not decelerated this density could have gone to about 13,700.

Department of Census tries to explain the cause of this trend. It says that removal of slums from various parts of city, including Yamuna Pushta, as a general drive and displacement of slum clusters due to preparation for Commonwealth Games have been mainly responsible for this trend. Some of these people previously living in slums could not be rehabilitated. Population of NDMC area itself has gone down due to removal of slums. Census report for NCT of Delhi says that it has no information about the status of population affected by the removal of slums. So it seems that a large number of people have migrated out of Delhi. It may be interesting to note that there has been differential rate of growth of population in different districts leading to differential increase in density of population. For instance North - East Delhi registered a huge increase (37 percent) in density during last decade. East Delhi registered a 27 percent increase. Central, West and North Delhi registered 23 percent, 20 percent and 15 percent respectively. South Delhi, South West Delhi and New Delhi's density increased by only 11 percent, 5 percent and 4 percent respectively. Previously, due to availability of land it was easy to establish slums, but situation is not the same now. Due to fast development of Delhi in terms of building activity and other infrastructural projects, migration into Delhi and establishing slum dwellings is no longer an easy option. For migrated population, once displaced it is not easy to establish again due to prohibitive property prices in Delhi.

All this is happening when transport, electricity and water facilities etc. are much better than before. Delhi Metro has also revolutionised the living in Delhi. But despite all this Delhi's expensive cost of living is now preventing people from settling in Delhi. A new trend is emerging now and a number of people have moved out of city limits of Delhi and started settling in NCR and now taking advantage of transportation facilities in Delhi they daily come to Delhi for work from surrounding cities of Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Bahadurgarh, Sonepat etc.

Demographic changes in Mumbai point to similar trends. Census 2011 show a very little increase in population in suburban Mumbai and decrease in population in Mumbai island city. Reasons for this trend are perhaps the same. Cost of living in Mumbai has also increased tremendously. Limited availability of land in Mumbai pushes the population out of Mumbai island city as well as suburban Mumbai.


The significance of the growth in population can be judged from the fact that during the decade 1991-2001, there has been an increase of about 183 million reaching a level of 1,027 million in 2001. The alarming rate at which population is growing calls forth the Deed for a positive population policy to restrict this rapid growth of population.

6.1 Family planning and five-year plans

Although India has been recognised as the first country in the world to officially adopt family planning programme in 1952, serious thinking about population growth was reflected in the Third Plan in terms of "the objective of stabilising the growth of population over a reasonable period." Subsequently, targets were set in various policy documents. The Third Plan for the first time set the population goal of achieving the reduction of crude birth rate to 25 per 1000 population by the year 1973, but achievement fell far short of expectation. Similarly, in 1968, a new demographic goal to reduce birth rate to 23 by 1978-79 was set, but again the achievement was dismal.

In 1983, on the recommendations of the Working Group on Population Policy set up by the Planning Commission, the National Health Policy (1983) set the goal of reducing the Net Reproduction Rate (NRR) to 1 by 2000 A.D. by reducing crude birth rate to 21, crude death rate to 9, infant mortality rate to less than 60 per thousand and by increasing the proportion of couples practising family planning to 60 per cent. This was adopted as the demographic goal in the Plan for the year 1995. However, a review indicated that this goal would be reached only by the period 2006-2011. Thus every time, a demographic goal was fixed, due to lack of achievement it was pushed to a later period. It was only in the Eighth Plan that the achievement of crude birth rate of 26 per thousand by 1997 was found to be close to the target set for the Plan. To achieve the family planning goals, the following measures were adopted by the Government: 
  1. Motivation  programme to  spread the knowledge of family planning. All mass media - newspapers, radio, T.V. films etc. - were widely used to spread consciousness about family limitation
  2. Supply of contraceptives to all sections of rural and urban population
  3. Financial incentives for family planning in the form of cash awards for undergoing sterilisation
  4. Extensive use of sterilisation of both males and females.
In India, the family planning programme did not concentrate on a single method but adopted what is generally described as "the cafeteria approach" i.e., making use of all the scientifically approved contraceptives. Apart from family planning, the Government relied upon-to some extent-education and economic progress to restrict the growth of our population. Raising the level of education of the people has a general salutary effect on fertility. This is particularly so if the female population is educated. As per experts: “Studies in India have confirmed the relationship between fertility rates and education and economic status - the motivation for the small family and successful adoption of contraceptive methods being the stronger among those classes who are both educated and economically better off".

6.2 Impact of family planning programmes on India's population growth

Family planning programmes, broadly speaking, use three methods : 
  1. Sterilization - which clearly gives full protection
  2. I.U.D. insertion - is supposed to give 95 per cent protection  and 
  3. Regular use of oral pills - also considered to give full protection, but regular use of conventional contraceptives provides 50 per cent protection.
Under the blanket umbrella of emergency, a ruthless sterilization drive was launched, which pushed sterilizations to a level of 8.26 million during 1976-77, but as a result of the defeat of the Congress Party in the 1977 general elections, in which sterilization excesses were a major issue, the Department of Family Planning developed cold feet and the sterilizations slumped to an abnormally low - 0.95 million in 1977-78. The gradually increasing trend of sterilizations after 1978-79 from a level of 1.48 million in 1978-79 to 2.79 million in 1981-82 and further to 4.90 million in 1985-86 is an index of stability of the programme with increasing impact over time.

Besides this, percentage of couples effectively protected by various methods have also increased over time

6.3 Non-family planning measures

The census of 2001 highlighted the fact that the mean age at marriage of females which was estimated at 17.16 years during 1971 has increased to 18.3 in 2001.

It may be noted that states like Kerala, Gujarat and Punjab have been able to effectively raise the mean age at marriage. This is largely the consequence of high level of literacy achieved in these states. If the programmes of adult literacy and general literacy are strengthened, general fertility rate (GFR) will register a faster decline. There is no doubt that even in states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, the proportion of married females in the age group 15-19 which was above 70 per cent in 1971 declined to about a level below 65 per cent in 1981. In Andhra Pradesh and Haryana, this trend is even stronger. Social changes affecting mean age at marriage are taking place in all the states. This is also evidenced by the fact that the proportion of married females in age group 15-44 has declined from 85.75 per cent in 1961 to 80.48 per cent in 1981. The census of 1981 (assuming this trend to continue) estimates that proportion of married females in the age group 15-44 will come down to 77.1 per cent in 1991 and furtherto 73.6 percent in 2001.From this the Registrar General concludes : "It appears that roughly 12 per cent decline in fertility as measured by GFR may be anticipated in the next 20 years due to increase in age at marriage which is a non-family planning measure. If, however, the pattern of growth in literacy accelerates, this may decline faster. This, therefore, has to be considered as lower limit".

6.4 Steps towards a rational population policy

History of population growth in the world shows that high fertility and high infant mortality go together and motivation for low fertility gets strengthened to the extent to which infant mortality and morbidity are reduced. In advanced countries like USA, UK, Germany, France, Japan etc. infant mortality has been reduced to as low a figure as 10 to 15 per thousand births. In contrast, infant mortality in India was as high as 57 in 2006. Secondly, advanced societies have a well-developed social security system against the risks of unemployment, old age, sickness, accidents etc. The well-to-do sections in Indian society living in urban areas are largely free from the worry of life risks due to schemes of social security like provident fund, gratuity, old age pension, life insurance etc. The rich and elite classes have a large command over property, and income from this property provides adequate security against life risks. So the motivation for small family exists among the well-to-do sections. As against it, the poorer classes (both in India and China!) consider 'son' as the most important social security. Consequently, the motivation to have one or two sons may result in having a large family. It is vitally important that in order to induce the poor to have small family, employment guarantee schemes and old age security measures are strengthened. This is a progressive, novel idea.

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme - NREGA - introduced in 2006 is a step in the right direction. A beginning has been made to introduce social security of senior citizens 65 years of age. The Government has planned to introduce Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (National Health Insurance Scheme) in 2008-09 to provide health cover of Rs 30,000 for every worker in the unorganised sector falling below the poverty line category and his/her family.

Lastly, a school of thought among the demographers believes that our socio-economic policies must integrate population and development goals. For instance, V.P. Pethe argues that: "The masses cannot be expected, rationally and morally, to undergo hardships that may result from a small family under the current environment, unless the educated and well-off classes also effectively demonstrate that they are willing to make sacrifices (in terms of reducing conspicuous consumption, sharing income and property benefits, etc.) in the common commitment to economic development, social transformation and creating an egalitarian social order." B.K. Banerji in a sharp comment against Pethe's line of thinking states: "Egalitarian distribution of income is a good toy for the politicians and some of the economists to play with. But there is nothing visible even in the distant horizon that portends its actualisation in the foreseeable future." He raises the question : So how long could we wait for the egalitarian society to come?

This is not to deny the need for pressing forth programmes of development and egalitarian distribution, but to underline the fact that family planning programmes must go ahead independently of the programmes of development and egalitarian distribution. There is, however, no doubt that the two together reinforce the creation of a better social and economic order.

6.5 Family planning and maternity and child health (MCH) strategies

The government has increasingly realised over time that family planning can succeed only if child survival rate in our country is enhanced. The Seventh Plan clearly mentioned: "recognising the close relationship that exists between high birth rate and high infant mortality, high priority will be given to the MCH (Maternity and Child Health) programme." It further states: "For the achievement of the "two child" norm, it is essential that the child survival rate in our country is enhanced." The second major thrust of the Seventh Plan in the family welfare programme was to reduce maternal mortality.

The focus of the family planning programmes, which was enlarged to be renamed as family welfare programme, was to take care of the problems of maternity and child health was in the right direction.


The NDA Government finally decided on 15th February 2000 to adopt the National Population Policy (2000) with a view to encourage the two-child norm and aim at stabilising the Indian population by 2046 A.D. The main features of the National Population Policy are as under:
Firstly, the Government decided that the freeze on Lok Sabha seats imposed as per the 42nd Constitutional Amendment with 1971 census as the basis for deciding the number of seats which is valid upto 2001, will be extended till 2026. This is being done so that states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala, which have followed the small family norm effectively should not be penalised and states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan should not be rewarded by granting more seats in Lok Sabha.

Besides this, the National Population Policy listed the following measures to achieve a stable population by 2046.
  1. Reduction of infant mortality rate below 30 per 1000 live births
  2. Reduction of maternal mortality rate to below 100 per 1,00,000 live births
  3. Universal immunisation
  4. To achieve 80 per cent deliveries in regular dispensaries, hospitals and medical institutions with trained staff
  5. Access to information, containing AIDS, prevention and control of communicable diseases
  6. Incentive to adopt two-child small family norm
  7. Facilities for safe abortions to be increased
  8. Strict enforcement of Child Marriage Restraint Act and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act
  9. Raising the age of marriage girls not earlier than 18, and preferably raising it to 20 years or more
  10. A special reward for women who marry after 21 and opt for a terminal method of contraception after the second child and
  11. Health insurance cover for those below the poverty line who undergo sterilisation after having two children.
The Action Plan drawn for the next 10 crucial years included the following:
  1. Self-help groups at village panchayat levels comprising mostly of housewives will interact with healthcare workers and gram panchayats
  2. Elementary education to be made free and compulsory and 
  3. Registration of marriage, pregnancy to be made compulsory along with births and deaths.
The government hoped to achieve the objective of population stabilisation by 2046 A. D. Immediately to improve the infrastructure, an additional allocation of Rs. 3,000 crores was required so that the unmet needs of contraception can be taken care of. Critics, however, felt that the new population policy put the entire burden of family limitation on "women". Dr. Nina Puri, President, Family Planning Association of India criticising the government stated: "The policy was "soft" on the male participation. The message the new policy sent across was that the women will bear the burden of population control with men being let off easily." The policy provided incentives only to women to accept terminal methods of contraception after the second child. It would have been far better, had the policy also provided similar incentives for "men" for sterilisation after the second child. There was much force in the argument and the government should suitably modify the incentives to place burden of population control equally on both the partners - male as well as female.

It is really a pity that vasectomy accounts for only 6 percent of current contraceptive use. In fact, vasectomy is a simpler, safer and easier method compared with tubectomy performed on females which is a relatively more complex procedure than vasectomy. The Working Group on Population Stabilisation for the Eleventh Plan (2007-12) constituted by the Planning Commission acknowledged that vasectomy has gone out of favour after the excesses committed during the emergency (1975-77). However, there is a need to undertake a big programme to re-educate males regarding the adoption of voluntary vasectomy. Some incentives may also be provided to promote voluntary vasectomy.

7.1 Population projections (2001-26)

Report of the Technical Group on Population Projections constituted by the National Commission on Population pertaining to period 2001-2026 was submitted in May 2006. The Census of India revised the projections in December 2006. The findings of this report bring out the trend of population and its variables for 25-year period which has serious implications for policy-making in various spheres of national and regional planning.

The report made the following assumptions:
  1. Total Fertility Rate (TFR) decline observed during 1981-2000 will continue in the future years also.
  2. Sex ratio at birth of all the states are assumed to remain constant during future years.
  3. The increase in life expectancy becomes slower as it reaches higher levels.
  4. Inter-state net migration during 1991-2001 has been assumed to remain constant throughout the projection period for all states.
  5. Urban-rural growth differentials for the period 1991-2001 has been assumed to be same in future as well upto 2026.
The report is conscious of the fact that "predicting of the future course of fertility and mortality is not an easy task, especially when looking beyond in time is bound to be influenced by medical and health intervention strategies, food production and its equitable availability, climatic variability, socio-cultural setting, politico-economic conditions and a host of other factors affecting the population dynamics." The findings should be viewed in the light of these limitations.
  1. The population of India is expected to increase from 1,029 million to 1,401 million during the period 2001 -2026 - an increase of 36% in 25 years i.e. at the rate of 1.2% per year. Consequently, the density of population will increase from 323 to 426 persons per
  2. The sex ratio (females per 1000 males) is likely to slightly decline from 933 to 930 during 2001- 2026.
  3. Child population (Age group 0-14) is likely to decline from 35.3% to 23.3% of the total population during 2001-2026.
  4. Working age group population (15-64 years) is likely show an increase from 60.1% to 68.4% during the 25-years period.
  5. Urban population is likely to increase from 286 million to 468 million during 2001-2026. As a proportion of total population, it is expected to increase from 28% in 2001 to 33% in 2026.
  6. Youth population in the age group 15-24 years is expected to increase from 195 million in 2001 to 240 million in 2011 and then continue to decrease to 224 million in 2026. As a percentage of total population, it is expected to fall from 19% in 2001 to 16% in 2026.
7.2 Demographic indicators (2001-26)
  1. Population growth will continue to register a decline in growth rate from 1.6% during 2001-05 to 1.3% in 2011-15 and further to 0.9% during 2021-25.
  2. Crude birth rate will decline from 23.2% during 2001-05 to 16% during 2021-25 because of falling total fertility. In contrast, crude death rate is expected to fall marginally from 7.5% during 2001-05 to 7.2% during 2021-25.
  3. Infant mortality rate is estimated to decline from 61% in 2001-05 to 40% by the end of the period 2021-25.
  4. Total fertility rate (TFR) is expected to decline from 2.9 during 2001-05 to 2.0 during 2021-25. With this, the weighted TFR is projected to reach replacement level of 2.1 by 2015.
At the state level four states, viz., Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Delhi have already achieved the TFR replacement level. The laggards in this regard are Jharkhand, Assam, Bihar Rajasthan, Uttaranchal, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Of the projected increase in population of 371 million in India, nearly 187 million is likely to take place in seven States of Bihar, Chattisgarh. Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan. Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchai (termed as BIMARU states). This implies that 57% of India's population increase during the 25 years period will occur in these states. About 22% of the total population increase is to occur in Uttar Pradesh alone. A study of state level population projection divides the entire period of 2001-26 into two parts - 10-year period of 2000-11 and 15-year period of 2011-26. The study has also divided states into forward states and backward states on the basis of per capita GDP.

Nine “forward” states accounted for 48.2% of India's total population, but as the population growth rates slow down to 1.2% during 2001-11 and further to 0.8% during 2011-2026, the share of these states in total population is expected to decline to 45.4% in 2026. But for Haryana and Maharashtra in which population growth continued to be high at 1.4% and 1.3% respectively during 2011-2026, all other states indicate decline in growth rates to less than 1% and in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, population growth rate would be as low as 0.5% per annum during 2011-26.

World Map as per country populations

Landmarks in the Evolution of India’s Population Policy
  • 1940 The subcommittee on Population, appointed by the National Planning Committee set up by the President of the Indian National Congress (Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru), considered ‘family planning and a limitation of children’ essential for the interests of social economy, family happiness and national lanning. The committee recommended the establishment of birth control clinics and other necessary measures such as raising the age at marriage  and a eugenic sterilization programme.
  • 1946 The Health Survey and Development Committee (Bhore Committee) reported that the control of disease and famine and improvement of health would cause a serious problem of population growth. It considered deliberate limitation of births desirable. 
  • 1951 The draft outline of the First Five Year Plan recognized ‘population policy’ as ‘essential to planning’ and ‘family planning’ as a ‘step towards improvement in health of mothers and children’.
  • 1952 The final First Five Year Plan document noted the ‘urgency of the problems of family planning and population control’ and advocated a reduction in the birth rate to stabilize population at a level consistent with the needs of the economy.
  • 1956 The Second Five Year Plan proposed expansion of family planning clinics in both rural and urban areas and recommended a more or less autonomous Central Family Planning Board, with similar state level boards.1959 The Government of Madras (now Tamil Nadu) began to pay small cash grants to poor persons undergoing sterilization as compensation for lost earnings and transport costs and also to canvassers and tutors in family planning.
  • 1961 The Third Five Year Plan envisaged the provision of sterilization facilities in district hospitals, subdivisional hospitals and primary health centres as a part of the family planning programme. Maharashtra state organized ‘sterilization camps’ in rural areas.
  • 1963 The Director of Family Planning proposed a shift from the clinic approach to a community extension approach to be implemented by auxiliary nurse midwives (one per 10,000 population) located in PHCs. Other proposals included: (a) a goal of lowering the birth rate from an estimated 40 to 25 by 1973; and (b) a cafeteria approach to the provision of contraceptive methods, with an emphasis on free choice.
  • 1965 The intrauterine device was introduced in the Indian family planning programme.
  • 1966 A full-fledged Department of Family Planning was set up in the Ministry of Health. Condoms began to be distributed through the established channels of leading distributors of consumer goods.
  • 1972 A liberal law permitting abortions on grounds of health and humanitarian and eugenic considerations came into force.
  • 1976 The statement on National Population Policy, made in the Parliament by the Minister for Health and Family Planning, assigned ‘top national priority and commitment’ to the population problem to bring about a sharp drop in fertility. The Constitution was amended to freeze the representation of different states in the lower house of Parliament according to the size of population in the 1971 Census. The states were permitted to enact legislation providing for compulsory sterilization.
  • 1977 A revised population policy statement was tabled in Parliament by a government formed by the former opposition parties. It emphasized the voluntary nature of the family planning programme. The term ‘family welfare’ replaced ‘family planning’.
  • 1982 The draft Sixth Five Year Plan adopted a long term goal of attaining a net reproduction rate of 1.0 on the average by 1996 and in all states by 2001. It adopted the targets for crude birth and death rates, infant mortality rate and life expectancy at birth and the couple protection rate, to be achieved by 2001.(The numbers were based on the illustrative exercises of a Working Group on Population Policy set up by the Planning Commission during 1978.)
  • 1983 The National Health Policy incorporated the targets included in the Sixth Five-Year Plan document. While adopting the Health Policy, the Parliament emphasized the need for a separate National Population Policy.
  • 1993 A Committee on Population, set up by the National Development Council in 1991, in the wake of the census results, proposed the formulation of a National Population Policy.
  • 1994 The Expert Group, set up by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 1993, to draft the National Population Policy recommended the goal of a replacement level of fertility (a total fertility rate of 2.1) by 2010. Other proposals of the expert group included (i) removal of method-specific targets down to the grassroots level; (ii) an emphasis on improving the quality of services; (iii) a removal of all incentives in cash or kind; (iv) a National Commission on Population and Social Development under the chairmanship of the prime minister. The draft statement was circulated among the members of Parliament and various ministries at the centre and among the states for comments.
  • 1997 The cabinet headed by Prime Minister I. K. Gujral approved a draft National Population Policy, to be placed before the Parliament. With the dissolution of the lower house of Parliament, the action was postponed.
  • 1999 Another draft of National Population Policy, placed before the cabinet, was remitted to a Group of Ministers (GOM) headed by the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, to examine the scope for the inclusion of incentives and disincentives for its implementation. The GOM consulted various academic experts and women’s representatives and finalised a draft, which was discussed by the cabinet on 19 November 1999, and which was revised further for re-submission. 
  • 2000 National Population Policy was adopted by the cabinet and announced on February 2000.
Press Information Bureau  
Government of India
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

Curbing Population Growth

Among the various reasons for most problems associated with providing healthcare and mployment, social security etc., population growth is one of the factors.

As per the 2017 revision of United Nations World Population prospects, India’s population is projected to be 1.50 billion by 2030 only.

The details of the schemes to restrict the ever increasing population in India are given below:

  • Mission ParivarVikas has been launched to increase access to contraceptives and Family Planning services in 146 high fertility districts. 
  • Introduction of New Contraceptive Choices: The current basket of choice has been expanded to include the new contraceptives viz. Injectable contraceptive, Centchroman and Progesterone Only Pills (POP).
  • Redesigned Contraceptive Packaging: The packaging for Condoms, Oral Contraceptive Pills (OCPs) and Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECPs) has now been improved and redesigned. 
  • New Family Planning Media Campaign has been launched to generate demand for contraceptives.
  • Family Planning logistics management information system has been developed to track Family Planning commodities.
  • Enhanced Compensation Scheme for Sterilization: The sterilization compensation scheme has been enhanced in 11 high focus states (8 Empowered Action Group (EAG), Assam, Gujarat, Haryana)
  • National Family Planning Indemnity Scheme - Under this scheme clients are indemnified in the unlikely events of deaths, complications and failures following sterilization.
  • Clinical Outreach Team Scheme - The scheme has been launched in 146 Mission ParivarVikas districts for providing Family planning services through mobile teams from accredited organizations in far-flung, underserved and geographically difficult areas.
  • A Scheme for ensuring drop back services to sterilization clients has been initiated.  
  • Post Abortion Family Planning Services have been initiated.
  • A Scheme for Home delivery of contraceptives by ASHAs to provide contraceptives at the doorstep of beneficiaries is in operation. 
  • A Scheme to ensure spacing of births by ASHAs is in operation. 
  • World Population Day & fortnight as well as Vasectomy Fortnight is observed every yearto boost Family Planning efforts all over the country. 
  • Post-partum Family Planning is being focused with special emphasis on Post-partum IUCD services.
  • Quality Assurance Committees have been established in all state and districts for ensuring quality of care in Family Planning. 
  • Cu IUCD 375 with 5 years effectivity has been introduced in the programme as an alternative to the existing IUCD (Cu IUCD 380A with effectivity of 10 years).
  • Male participation is being emphasized upon.
  • Private/ NGO facilities have been accredited to increase the provider base for family planning services under PPP. 
As a result of Governments initiatives, the decadal growth rate has declined significantly from 21.15% in census 2001 to 17.64% in census 2011. Moreover the Crude Birth Rate (CBR) has reduced from 23.1 to 19, Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has reduced from 2.6 to 2.2 and Total Unmet Need has reduced from 13.9 to 12.9 from NFHS 3 (2005-06) to NFHS 4 (2015-16).
The Minister of State (Health and Family Welfare), Smt Anupriya Patel stated this in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha here today.



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