The of mass sterilisation. There was a widespread

The population policy took the concrete form of the National family planning programme. The broad objectives of this programme have remained the same to try to influence the rate and pattern of population growth in socially desirable directions.

The most important objective was to slow down the rate of population growth through the promotion of various birth control methods, improve public health standards and increase public awareness about population and health issues. Over the past half century or so.

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The Family Planning Programme suffered a setback during the years of the National Emergency (1975-76). Normal parliamentary and legal procedures were suspended during this time and special laws and ordinances issued directly by the government, (without being passed by parliament) were in force.

During this time the government tried to intensify the effort to bring down the growth rate of population by introducing a coercive programme of mass sterilisation. There was a widespread popular opposition to the programme, and new government elected after the emergency abandoned it.

By seeing the gravity of increasing population problems a new population policy was announced in year 2000 giving a special focus on health and education. The several appreciable measures to achieve a stable population by 2045 are provided in this announcement.

The freezing of Lok Sabha seats of present level of 545 which is based on 1971 census till 2026 is included in this policy, which could have been changed in 2001 Census according to the original provision.

A number of promotional and motivational measures under the policy involve the linking of the disbursement of cash incentives for compliance with requirements regarding ante-natal checkup, institutional delivery by a trained birth attendant and registration of marriage and pregnancy to be made compulsory along with birth and death. There is also provision for setting up of a National Commission on Population.

Through effective implementation of inter sectoral operational strategies, the medium term objective of the policy is to bring the total fertility rates to replacement level by 2010. On the other hand the long term objective is to achieve a stable population by 2045 at a level required for sustainable economic growth, social development and environmental protection. The fourteen national socio-demographic goals have been envisaged by National Population Policy to achieve the objectives.

The number of issues like free and compulsory school education, lowering of dropout at school level, reduction of infant mortality rate, enhancement of the marriage age of girls and peoples participation in the programmes etc. have been taken into consideration under this population policy. This population policy has been criticised by number of scholars, demographers and social scientists on number of counts.

In the new millennium, nations are judged by the well-being of their people by levels of health, nutrition and education; by the civil and political liberties enjoyed by their citizens; by the protection guaranteed to children and by provisions made for the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.

The vast numbers of the people of India can be its greatest asset if they are provided with the means to lead healthy and economically productive lives. Population stabilisation is a multi-sectoral endeavour requiring constant and effective dialogue among a diversity of stakeholders and coordination at all levels of the government and society.

Spread of literacy and education, increasing availability of affordable reproductive and child health services, convergence of service delivery at village levels, participation of women in the paid work force, together with a steady, equitable improvement in family incomes, will facilitate early achievement of the socio-demographic goals. Success will be achieved if the Action Plan contained in the NPP 2000 is pursued as a national movement.