The United Nations has lauded India’s population control policy, which focuses on reproductive health of women, unlike China, where family and social pressures to produce a son “are becoming immense”.
It would be spending $60 million (Rs264 crore) in the next five years to support the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity in India, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Asia and Pacific division director, Sultan A. Aziz said on Sunday.
Aziz, who held talks with Union health ministry officials, said the government plans to invest Rs900 crore in the next five years in family planning and related schemes and the world body was “very satisfied” with it. He said UNFPA was satisfied with India’s holistic approach but had reservations about the “crude mechanism” adopted by Beijing.
“The states don’t have the right to regulate the fertility of women. We don’t support such an approach as it comes with a huge social cost,” Aziz said.
According to Aziz, instead of a numbers-based family planning approach, the focus should on improving reproductive health.
Now recognized as a human right, it denotes a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being of women.
“The question is not of numbers. The state has no right to be in anybody’s bedroom. The answer to the problem lies in educating men and women to make a choice of having a child or not,” he said.
Aziz said the hallmark of India’s new National Population Policy is the emphasis on improving quality of reproductive health while “in China, family and social pressures to produce a son are becoming immense, which is not a positive sign for the country”.
Every country, however, had the right to formulate its own population control policies and the UN body would continue to extend its support to them, Aziz said.
On laws for prohibiting sex-selective abortion, he said a broader campaign was needed to address the evil, which is rooted in a cultural preference for sons and influenced by socio-economic factors.
On whether the development model failed to achieve the goal of improving quality of life, he said “I can see positive changes, but we need to have a sense of urgency in addressing development-related issues and women could play a more powerful role in sustainable development.”