India, the world's second most populous country, is against controlling population growth through legislation, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said Wednesday.
"I firmly believe that equitable, inclusive and sustainable growth of India depends on healthy and stable population. It is a matter of great concern and urgent steps need to be taken to stabilise the population for sustainable development," Azad said here.
The minister was addressing a national workshop on Repositioning Family Planning for Maternal and Child Health.
"Let me make it very clear, that we are not in favour of controlling population growth through any kind of legislation. But by way of generating awareness and persuading people to have small family size for betterment of the health of mother and baby," he said.
According to official data, India's population was 1.02 billion in 2001 and is projected to be 1.19 billion in 2011. It has been estimated that in 20 years India's population will exceed that of China.
Rajya Sabha member and father of India's Green Revolution M.S. Swaminathan insisted on the need to optimise gains from existing schemes and benefit from cross-linkages.
"If population policy goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right. There is need for a holistic approach to population stabilisation that will lead to children by choice and not by chance," said Swaminathan.
Swaminathan said the country cannot afford to have more and more new schemes and fundings every year but we need to use the existing schemes efficiently.