New Delhi, Aug. 1: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has decided to personally monitor the national effort to arrest the high population growth rate in the eight backward states of Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
K.C. Pant, the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, told reporters today that the Prime Minister has taken this initiative to impart a greater thrust to the implementation of the national population policy.
He said the government’s perception is that while the other states are managing well on their own, the eight states are lagging behind in population control. Being responsible for the continuing increase in the nation’s population, they have been singled out for focus.
Pant welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the right of the Haryana government to bar anyone with more than two children to contest panchayat elections.
He said a system of incentives and disincentives was required to help control the continuous increase in population, which had crossed the 1-billion mark.
“We are next only to China in numbers and, if the current trend continues unchecked, we will end up overtaking them as well,” Pant added.
The government has gone into election mode with five states going to the hustings this year and the Lok Sabha polls due next year.
Vajpayee apparently wants to convey the impression that the NDA alliance is keen on giving good governance to the country and social welfare constitutes part of the priority agenda.
However, Orissa, which has been included among the eight states with a high population growth, does not appear to be doing too badly.
Its population has grown over the last decade at a rate of 15.94 per cent and the Economic Survey lists it along with Bengal and Punjab, which are moving towards an ideal situation of a replacement level of fertility rate.
A total fertility rate of 2.1, which is just enough to replace the existing population, has been achieved only by Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The quality of life in these two states in terms of healthcare and education is also reported to be higher.
This brings out the close correlation between the rate of population growth on the one hand and education and health on the other.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu also have a better female-male ratio than other states. Kerala, in fact, has more women.