ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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National Population Policy 2000: Re-examining Critical Issues

With many states now having evolved and announced state population policies, there is a need to examine their links with the central policy and also to take a closer look at the experience of implementing the policy. While there has been some change in the content of the policy the blinkered vision on population and people's needs continues to be evident.

On May 11, 2000 India’s population reached one billion. A girl child was symbolically chosen to represent this watershed. While this could have been a moment for sombre reflection on India’s development and what this meant to her population, it was used as an occasion to set demographic alarm bells ringing. Over the years while concerns in family planning have contoured health sector development, early in the 1990s, it was increasingly being realised that the programme, one of the largest public health initiatives in the world, had reached a dead end.

In part as a result of this realisation, in part as a result of the pressure generated by women’s groups and health groups in the country calling for a radical reconsideration of the programme, in part in preparation for the third decennial International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) at Cairo in 1994, the government of India appointed an Expert Group to chart out a new population policy. The Report of this group, commonly known as the Swaminathan Committee Report, proclaimed a policy that it described as pro-poor, pro-nature and pro-women. The Committee had proposed a holistic approach visualising overall social development as the goal. It proposed the idea of merging family planning with the health department; resolutely rejected both the target and the incentive approaches several months before these were to enter the ICPD agenda for action and flagged the importance of using institutional arrangements for development offered by the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution. In 1996, based on the recommendations of the Expert Group, and on the understanding that “if our population policy goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right”, the government of India announced a Draft Statement on National Population Policy (GOI: 1996:13). In February this year this draft was modified, accepted by parliament and a National Population Policy (NPP) 2000 announced.

National Policy

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