Population Policy of India

As per 2011 census, India has a population of about 1.2 billion with an annual growth rate of 1.64% which makes us the second most populous country next only to China. Our population density which was 117 persons per square km in 1951 has now increased to 382 persons per square km.

The size of population and high growth rate had been a cause of concern even during the British period. The Government had set up a Committee in 1943 to conduct a survey on Indian Health System. The Committee recommended “the spreading of the knowledge of birth control as far as the limitations imposed by the peculiar circumstances of the country will permit”.

After independence, the matter was taken up in the five year plans wherein family planning was treated as a part of the health programme. The strategy to integrate health, family welfare, nutrition services, basic social services, education was followed in subsequent plans.

National Health policy of 1983 emphasized the need for achieving small family norm through voluntary participation. The policy set an objective of achieving replacement levels of total fertility rates (TFR) i.e. a TFR of 2.1 by 2000. Later an expert group under Dr. M. S. Swaminathan, was set up in 1993 to prepare a draft of the National Population policy. The Report basically related population growth to the basic needs, democratic decentralization, gender issues and eco-system

National Population Policy

National Population Policy was announced in the year 2000. The policy took note of the fact that the growth in population was due to the large size of the population in the reproductive age, high fertility due to inadequate availability of contraception, high wanted fertility due to high infant mortality rates and most of the girls marrying below the age of 18.

Some of the important objectives of the policy were as under:

• Provide contraception facilities and health care infrastructure with emphasis on basic reproductive and child health care.

• Access to information of birth limitation methods 

• Bring TFR to the replacement levels by 2010.

• Achieve a stable population by 2045.

• Reduce IMR to below 30 per 1000 live births.

• Reduce MMR to below 100 per 100,000 live births.

• Promote delayed marriage for girls not earlier than age of 18 and preferably after the age of 20.

• Universalisation of primary education and reduction in the dropout rates at primary and secondary levels to below 20% both for boys and girls. 

• Support to be provided to state governments as per requirement and availability of infrastructure.

• Involvement of Panchayati Raj institutions for coordination among activities of different agencies, supervision of health care related infrastructure like Primary Health Centre and Aanganwadis and ensuring community participation.

Target & Achievements:




Crude birth rate



Crude death rate






Total fertility rate



Related Article: Important data of Census 2011 

These figures would indicate that the country has made substantive progress in population management since 1951. However, when we see it from the perspective of the targets set by the National Health Policy and National Population Policy we find that our current population is much higher than projections made under the National Population Policy. Similarly, with respect to TFR, National Health Policy targeted replacement levels by 2000 and National Population Policy targeted these levels by 2010, but the figure for the year 2009 is 2.6, which is again much higher than the target. At this rate we may take another 10 years or so to achieve this level of TFR.  

National Population Policy sets the target of achieving a stable population by 2045, that is, after 35 years of achieving the replacement level. The projections appear unrealistic considering the example of China which attained replacement level of total fertility rate in 1990. However, its population is still growing and is expected to achieve peak level only in 2050 after which it will stabilize or gradually decline. Thus, in China, peak level is expected to be achieved after 60 years of achieving replacement level of fertility rates. As India, does not have such a vigorous population control policy as China, time taken by India is likely to be much higher and its population is likely to stabilize only in the later part of this century.

Reasons for underachievement:

• Unlike China, we have resorted to voluntary participation in population control measures; hence efficacy of these measures would depend on the ability to convince people to have a smaller family. This makes, literacy level a very important factor. As per Census, 2011, Kerala, which has the highest literacy rate of 93.91%, has a very low annual growth rate of 0.48% while Bihar which has lowest literacy rate of 63.82% has a high annual growth rate of 2.26%.

Poverty is another important factor. In such families, an additional child is treated as a potential earning hand and hence birth of a child is not discouraged.

• In a number of areas particularly in remote areas, adequate health and birth control facilities are not available without which the people cannot adopt family planning measures.

Social factors also play an important role. Traditional Indian society prefers early marriage of girls which means that a married woman has more years of reproductive period. This is an important factor in increasing fertility rate and leads to growth in population.

Future Prospects:

There is no shortcoming in our population policy; the problem is with its implementation. Population growth is inherently linked to economic and social upliftment and target of a stable population can only be achieved if there is a drastic improvement in literacy levels, availability of health care and family planning facilities and implementation of poverty removal measures.

Some Appreciation Please!

  Posted on Monday, September 14th, 2015 at 8:25 AM under   Geography