- Need for greater discussion on population explosion, said PM Modi
- Population explosion will cause problems for future generations, he said
- India is on verge of surpassing China as most populous country
Making a significant statement in his sixth Independence Day address today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concern over what he called "jansankhya visphot (population explosion)" and called for schemes to tackle the challenge.
"There is one issue I want to highlight today - population explosion. We have to think, can we do justice to the aspirations of our children? There is a need to have greater discussion and awareness on population explosion," PM Modi said in his speech from the Red Fort on the nation's 73rd Independence Day.
"Population explosion will cause many problems for our future generations. We have to be concerned about population explosion. The centre as well as state governments should launch schemes to tackle it," he said, making an important political statement that many saw as possibly hinting at an impending policy announcement.
This is the first time PM Modi has spoken on population, even though others in the ruling BJP have often raised the need to tackle the challenge.
The ever-rising population was a matter of concern, said the Prime Minister. "But there is a vigilant section of public which stops to think before bringing a child to the world, whether they can do justice to the child, give them all that she or he wants. They deserved respect. What they are doing is an act of patriotism. Let us learn from them," PM Modi said in his 92-minute speech.
"In the 21st century, we as citizens of this country need to understand that development and prosperity begin only when individuals are healthy and resourceful. As there are so many illnesses around efforts cannot just be at the government level. Everyone has to contribute," he added.
With a population of 1.3 billion, India is on the verge of surpassing China as the world's most populous country.
Over the years, it has been a politically tricky subject with governments chary of enforcing any coercive family planning measures.
Some states have tried to tackle the problem through measures like banning politicians with more than two children from contesting local body elections.
The PM's speech focused on a "New India", for which he announced steps like a "Jal Jeevan mission" to provide water to all households. The government would spend Rs 3.5 lakh crore on this scheme, he said, adding, "It is unfortunate, however, that so many people lack access to water even 70 years after Independence."
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