India: Let’s Get Men Involved

LALITA PANICKER MAKES A CASE IN THE HINDUSTAN TIMES that India must involve more men in family planning in order to further curb the growth of the country’s population:

The next time you hear a knock on your door, it may turn out to be your friendly local health worker with a choice of contraceptives for you. And who will you have to thank for that? None else than health and family welfare minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, whose innovations in the field of population are matchless. Well, don’t hold your breath just yet, this is one scheme that Azad has mooted though it would be a safe bet that not too many health workers will be turning up at people’s doorsteps just yet.

Some years ago, population was a subject quite close to the hearts of the political class, though not always in a positive sense. There were two points of view, both not very well nuanced. One was that our population would bring us demographic dividends owing to the large youth component. The other was that the numbers were a drag and that people must be stopped from breeding like rabbits. The Planning Commission has a wonderful roadmap for population in the Eleventh Plan (2007-2012) which lays down in great detail all the problems and solutions. It makes for riveting reading and it would be clear except to the most cloth-eared that if implemented we would be home free.

But as always, the proof the policy is in the implementation. Azad a career politician is not really interested in the nuts and bolts of population, except to say that the total fertility rate (TFR), that is live births per woman fell by 19% in the last decade. Nothing to cheer about Azad, the TFR has only fallen from 3.2 in 2000 to 2.5 in 2010. But the health minister says that he will achieve population stabilisation through people’s cooperation and not through legislation. Not so fast, please. READ MORE.