Sunday, July 19

Something to cheer about

While Gulam Nabi Azad made us laugh, the latest news on population policy will make you smile. A detailed National Population Policy formulated in the year 2000 set out to achieve a total fertility rate (TFR) of two by the end of 2010. Now the union health ministry reports that 11 states and three union territories have achieved that target of two children per couple two years before the deadline. Most Indians are used to a large number of government projects missing their deadlines. To see these states work efficiently fills my heart with optimism. All we need now is for the good work to continue uninterrupted and become a norm.

The National Population Policy had rightly identified education, women's empowerment, and communication and awareness about the benefits of family planning to be some of the ways of achieving the targets. (Azad should have taken a cue from the policy and made the argument for more televisions as the means of spreading family planning awareness.) Interestingly, the National Family Health Survey (2007) reports the literacy rates for most of the 11 states as being above the Indian average of 67.6 percent. The statewise literacy rates are as follows: Goa (83.3), Himachal Pradesh (81.3), Karnataka(69.3), Kerala (89.9), Maharashtra(77.6), Punjab (74), Sikkim (76.6), Tamil Nadu (74.2), West Bengal (71.6) and Andhra Pradesh (63.7). Either it is sheer coincidence, or higher literacy rates and decreasing FTR seem to be co-related.

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