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The government is set to adopt a host of measures to control population growth, including offering family planning support and investing in the behavioural change of people and making family planning a national priority.

Federal policy think tank NITI Aayog will consult subject specialists and officials on Friday to find ways of strengthening the country’s population policy and family planning programmes, the government said. The move comes in the wake of Prime Minister Narenda Modi flagging, in his Independence Day speech this year, the need for controlling the explosive growth in population.

Policy makers have felt the need for fresh population stabilization measures, as unchecked growth could go against the efforts to bring millions of people out of poverty and undo the benefits of higher welfare spending for the poor.

The consultation is expected to result in recommendations that will address the regional disparities in the outcome of population stabilization programmes, NITI Aayog said. The key recommendations are likely to include helping women make informed choices about delaying pregnancy and ensuring there was a sufficient gap between childbirths, stepping up access to contraceptive choices, addressing sociocultural barriers towards contraception, increasing public spending on family planning, investing in behaviour-change communication strategies, and treating population stabilization and family planning as a national priority.

“Family planning is considered universally as the smartest development investment. For India to realize its sustainable development goals and economic aspirations, it is important to ensure that people have informed access to contraception and quality family planning services," NITI Aayog said.

India, with 1.37 billion people, is the second-most populous country in the world. A report from the United Nations released in June had said that around 2027 India is set to overtake China as the world’s most populous country.

Birth rates are falling, but population continues to grow as more than 30% of the people are young and in the reproductive age group.

Modi’s reference to the explosive growth in population in his Independence Day speech was the first time in the past few years that the government acknowledged that the need for checking population growth should be discussed. The first United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government under former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had taken the view that family planning should be a voluntary choice by the people and that the State should offer neither incentives nor disincentives to control population.

“There is one issue I want to highlight today. That is population explosion. Can we do justice to the aspirations of our children? There is a need to have greater discussion and awareness on population explosion," Modi had said in his speech.

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