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New Delhi: India’s population is expected to be more feminine and hold better future for women after 15 years from now, indicated the population projections made by the National Commission on Population under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The report of the technical group on population projections titled population projections for India and States 2011 – 2036 has observed that the population in 2036 is expected to be more feminine compared to the population as of 2011 when it came to sex ratio.

The country’s sex ratio of the total population (females per 1000 males) is expected to increase from 943 in 2011 to 957 during 2036. “It is observed that in 2036 sex ratio in eighteen states, except Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat will increase as compared to 2011," the report said adding that the lowest sex ratio of 899 is expected to be in NCT of Delhi in 2036, followed by 900 and 908 in Gujarat and Haryana respectively.

“The projection an improved sex ratio by 2036, which is an important measure of gender equality. The prevalence of sex selection in parts of India has been a consequence of strong son preference and subsequent daughter aversion prevalent in the country, driven by deeply entrenched socio-cultural biases," said Poonam Muttreja, public health expert and executive director of Population Foundation of India (PFI).

Citing the UNFPA’s State of World Population (SWOP) 2020, which stated gender-biased sex selective practices in India account for about 40% of the estimated 1.2 million missing female births annually worldwide, Muttreja said that over the decades, efforts made by the government have adopted a multi-pronged strategy to promote the value of the girl child, not just through schemes and programmes, such as Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, but awareness generation to build a positive environment for women and girls.

The report said that the infant mortality rate (IMR) of the country, which is reported to be 46 in 2010 is expected to go down to 30 by the end of the period 2031-35. The IMR is expected to decline in all the states during 2011-35. The IMR, which was highest in Madhya Pradesh at 58 followed by 57 in Uttar Pradesh in 2011-15 is expected to come down to 37 in Madhya Pradesh, followed by Uttar Pradesh (38) in 2031-35, the report said.

Other states, where IMRs are expected to be in the range of 30-40 during 2031-35 are Rajasthan, Assam, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The lowest IMR is expected to be in Kerala at 9 in 2031-35. It will be followed by Tamil Nadu with IMR declining from 22 in 2011-15 to 16 during 2031-35, the report said indicating that lesser women will be losing their children.

Also, according to the report, the population of India is expected to increase from 121.1 crores to 151.8 crores during the period 2011-2036 - an increase of 25% in 25 years at the rate of 1.0% annually. The report also said that the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is expected to decline from 2.34 during 2011-2015 to 1.72 during 2031- 35. The assumption is that the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) would follow the recent pace of decline.

“While sustained decline in population size is an obvious outcome of educating and empowering women along with meeting their contraceptive needs and choices, gender equality can only be achieved by addressing regressive social norms and attitudes through targeted social and behaviour change communication interventions," said Muttreja.

The report has also highlighted that the youth population in the age- group 15-24 years is expected to increase from 23.3 crores in 2011 to 25.2 crores in 2021 and then continue to decrease to 22.7 crores in 2036. Its proportion to total population is expected to fall from 19.3 percent in 2011 to 14.9 percent in 2036.

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