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Millennium Post

Steady today, stable tomorrow

Steady today, stable tomorrow

India finds itself at a stage where birth rates are declining but the population continues to grow because more than 30 per cent of the population is young and in the reproductive age group. The boon of population as a valuable resource could be an asset only if it is nurtured well enough to be able to eventually contribute to the economy and not be a burden on it. With the demographic dividend that India has, there is as much risk for the large population being a bane as there is scope for it being a blessing for the nation in the coming years. Considering this, government think tank NITI Aayog is considering a roadmap for population stabilisation and aims to come out with a working paper to address key gaps in India's family planning programmes. A key step of substantive consequence is increasing the basket of contraceptive choices and helping women make informed decisions about delaying pregnancy and spacing between children. Organised in partnership with Population Foundation of India (PFI), this undertaking will deliberate on means and methods of strengthening India's population policy and family planning programmes. "Nearly 30 million currently married women in the age group of 15-49 years within this critical cohort of young people have unmet needs in family planning, which limit their ability to delay or avoid pregnancy by not having access or the agency to use contraception," the think tank said, adding that the recommendations from the consultation will contribute to a NITI Aayog working paper to help achieve India's vision of attaining population stabilisation, as voiced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2019. India, with a current population size of 1.37 billion, has the second largest population in the world, and for India to realise its sustainable development goals and economic aspirations, it is necessary to ensure that people have informed access to contraception and quality family planning services—to begin with. Given that family planning is considered to be a smart development investment, addressing some of the crucial social aspects that are determinants of health—factors such as age at marriage and sex-selective practices, etc. is of vital significance. Approaching this matter and executing this initiative as a social concern per se will contribute to having a firm foundation for the development investment considered through this means. Matters like education and health and nutrition cannot be dissociated if this move is to be a success. Integrated efforts must be made consistently.

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