BEIJING: Weighed down by ever increasing population, China and India — the most populous nations – on Monday observed World Population Day together for the first time to step up campaign to stabilise global population.
Addressing an India-China joint ministerial meeting on population at the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, the Health Minister, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad said that as two countries together had over one third of global population, it was apt for both to observe it together to learn from their experiences.
This is the first time ever ministers from the two most populous countries came together to observe the World Population Day and share common experiences, Mr Azad said.
“On this momentous occasion, let us call upon the entire world to work jointly to achieve population stabilisation for the overall sustainable development of the entire planet,” he said.
“China and India together have to provide global leadership in this area and I am glad that the increasing cooperation between our two countries, bilaterally and through multi-lateral fora, augurs well for the future,” he said thanking the Chinese Minister, Mr Li Bin for convening the meet.
“While we fully acknowledge that large populations are assets in terms of human resource and to a great extent stimulate economic growth, but rate at which the population of entire world is multiplying, poses several challenges on economic, environmental and development fronts”.
Encouraged by steady decline of fertility rates over the years, the family planning campaign in India is now being focussed on high fertility areas for population stabilisation, Mr Azad said.
As per the recent census, India’s population stands at 1.21 billion. According to projections, it would touch 1.40 billion by 2026. “A positive sign emerging from the census shows that the decadal growth rate has come down sharply to 17.64 (in 2011) from 21.54 (in 2001),” Mr Azad said.
“With only 2.4 per cent of the entire world’s landmass to support 17 per cent of the world population; India’s need for population stabilisation can hardly be overemphasised,” he said.
The steady decline in total fertility rate over a period of time is encouraging and it is currently at 2.6 (in 2009), a 42 per cent decline from mid-1960s.
To reduce maternal mortality rate and infant mortality rate, the Indian government has taken number of initiatives in last five years as a result of which institutional deliveries increased from 47 per cent to 72 per cent, he said.
The national programme contributed to the further decline of the MMR from 254 in 2004-06 to 212 in 2007-09 and IMR from 58 in 2005 to 50 in 2009, he said.
“Fourteen states and Union territories out of 35 have already achieved the replacement fertility level of 2.1. We are now focusing on the high fertility areas for population stabilisation,” he said.
India had repositioned its family planning programme to not only achieve population stabilisation but also to promote reproductive health and reduce maternal mortality, infant and child mortality and morbidity, he said.