Population panel to focus on "weak" States

Gargi Parsai

NEW DELHI: Chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the first meeting of the reconstituted and truncated National Commission on Population here on July 23 will focus on demographically "weak" States. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, a member of the Commission, is likely to attend. y.

The presidents of the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India and the Nationalist Congress Party are members of the Commission.

Focus on three points

The meeting will focus on three points: Approach to issues of population stabilisation based on the National Common Minimum Programme of the United Progressive Alliance Government; learning from southern States and population challenges in demographically weak States and appropriate strategies.

The Health and Family Welfare Ministry will make presentations on the population stabilisation strategy in the recently launched National Rural Health Mission and the demographic situation in the Empowered Action Group (EAG) States.

The newly-appointed adviser and former Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu, T.V. Anthony, will make a presentation on the good example set by Kerala and Tamil Nadu for the EAG States to emulate.

Policy-making body

The National Population Fund has a Rs. 100-crore corpus. According to Health and Family Welfare Secretary P.K. Hota, the Population Commission is an advisory, policy-making body now under the Health and Family Welfare Ministry. It will review, monitor and give directions on implementation of the National Population Policy.

Earlier the Commission, chaired by the Prime Minister, was under the Planning Commission. The NDA Government set up the Population Commission with 131 members. The UPA Government has continued the Commission with the Prime Minister as the chair, but downsized it to 44 members. The Health and Family Welfare Minister is the Vice-Chairman of the Commission along with the Vice-Chairman of the Planning Commission.

The Chief Ministers of the "demographically challenged" States including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and States "where population stabilisation has been successful," including Kerala and Tamil Nadu, are also likely to attend the meeting.

The members of the new Commission include Leela Visaria, Ashish Bose, Mira Shiva, Manu Kulkarni, Bolin Khangoria, H. Sudarshan, A.R. Nanda, Mohan Rao, Shabana Azmi, Ilina Sen, Viji Srinivasan, Ruth Manorama and Asghar Ali Engineer.

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