India lost battle on population as govt did not act in 1970s-80s: Veteran civil servant NC Saxena

By Naz Asghar

Sep 15, 2020

New Delhi: India has already lost the batte for population control way back in 1970s and 1980s, says veteran civil servant NC Saxena.

Saxna, who has also served as member of the planning commission during his distinguished career in IAS, says that had the then governments acted in those crucial decades and taken effective measures to bring down population, the problem would not acquired the present magnitude as it has today.

”If we had taken suitable measures when we were 50 crores, the population would have stabilised at 80 crore, but that is gone, as we cannot bring it to 80 crore from 130 crore, the former IAS officer said in an exclusive interview to India News Stream.

Saxena’s remarks come in the backdrop of strident demands from the ruling BJP to bring in a strong law for population control. Recently BJP Rahya Sabha member Anil Agarwal urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to introduce the Population Control Bill in this session of the Parliament.Yesterday, another ruling party MP Harnath Singh Yadav demanded in the Upper House that a “strong” population control Bill be brought in this monsoon session of Parliament itself.

However, Saxena feels that the time is out for very  strong measures.

Now, he underlined, even if the government goes for a very strong population control measures, it cannot make much difference as the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has already come down from six to about 2 per cent in the last 50 years and any further decline would take it may be to 1.7 or 1.8, and it cannot go down beyond that.

” We are 130 crore today and our population will stabilise at around 150 or 160 crore, so like Corona the population has come to stay,” said the former IAS officer, who has also been member of the National Advisory Commitee headed by Sonia Gandhi  during the UPA regime.

Now, he says,  all that one can do is to reduce the rate of growth of population by improving gendre indicators as one can see that some states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu which have much better gendre indicators have done far better in population control than others. Their TFR is 1.4 , 1.5, whereas in states like UP it is 2.6, and in Bihar, Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh too the population is still rising beacuse of lack of education, malnutrition and all other gendre-related factors.

The country lost a great opportunity to keep its teeming millions from multiplying by not acting strongly in the two decades in the previous century mentioned above, he said.

”And by strong measures, I do not mean coercion or denial of facilities but improvement in gendre indicators,” Saxena clarified. The government should have given more facilities to women, more jobs to them and met the unmet demand for family planning.

The age of marriage is very important, but we find that it is still not 18, he said.