Govt not in favour of population control legislation: Azad

"Let me make it clear that we are not in favour of controlling population growth through any kind of legislation. But by way of generating awareness and persuading people to have small family size for betterment of the health of the mother and child," he said.

"We also need to give them access to choices and empower them to choose their family size," the health minister said at a National Workshop on repositioning family planning for Maternal and Child Health.

Identifying population stablilisation as a primary means of ensuring maternal and child health, Azad said more than 50 per cent of the country's population is in the reproductive age of 15-49 years, which imparts momentum to the population growth.

"We have to bear in mind the carrying capacity of the land mass and resources available at our disposal," he said. He noted that with a land area of 2.6 per cent of the total earth, India has 17 per cent of the world's population.

Azad said the total fertility rate has declined to 2.6 in 2008. "We have an objective of achieving replacement level fertility that is TFR of 2.1 by 2012. While 14 states have achieved this, some states are way behind and need to gear up their machinery to contain the population growth," he said. Agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan said if population policy goes wrong nothing else will have a chance to go right.

He underlined the need for a holistic approach to population stabilization with pro-nature, pro-women, pro-poor and pro-democratic choices to people that will lead to children by choice not by chance.

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