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  • Population Commission to directly fund NGOs

    Contrary to the National Population Policy, the National Population Commission under the Planning Commission appears to have decided to promote the two-child norm. The message forms a part of the guidelines for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) whom the Commission proposes to fund.

    Ostensibly, the reason for directly funding NGOs working in the area of population stabilisation is to cut the red-tapism in State Governments and speed up implementation. But the intention was not borne out by the large presence of retired bureaucrats and Government functionaries at the meet here today between the NGOs and the Commission.

    A majority of these retired Government functionaries now run NGOs. Also, among the NGO/Self-Help Groups were a fair number of NGOs who are already flush with foreign funds. However, speaking to The Hindu, the member-secretary of the Commission, Krishna Singh, said the idea of directly funding NGOs was for better utilisation of funds. She said the Commission had opted for established NGOs in a variety of fields to gain "entry point''. "Then we can assess the need for reproductive child health, contraceptives and so on.'' Most participants focussed on the problem of the preference for the male child, which, according to one of them, was now for "two male children in rural areas'' but the meeting did not throw up any plausible ways to overcome that.

    The need for understanding the linkages between population and development and for Government and NGOs to come together as strategic partners in planning and implementation was highlighted.

    The focus was on integrated approach to improve the quality of life, empowering women and highlighting male responsibility.

    Joe Meredith of Gramin Vikas Sanstha, Orissa, pointed how his agency was able to reverse the problem of migration in tribal villages through provision of water and sanitation facilities and improving general awareness.

    Mohammad Amin Dar, Secretary of Women and Children Society, said 90 percent of Jammu and Kashmir's population resided in remote rural areas. He said more than religion, it was lack of awareness and education that was responsible for most rural families having up to a dozen children.

    He said that because of militancy and unemployment, most rural families were using their children as "labour force'' in carpet industries, factories, transport business etc. He said population stabalisation projects for J and K should be treated on 'priority' by the Central Government.

    Anil Singh of Network of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development in Lucknow and Ashok Gagan of Bhagwan Buddha Vikas Seva Samiti in Patna did not mince words when they blamed the "corrupt politicians and file pushing bureaucrats'' for the slow rate of awareness in population stabalisation in their respective States.

    Mr Singh said the target of a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) level of 2.1 in U P was not achievable as it was "imposed from top''. "The attitudinal problem of politicians and bureaucrats prevents population issues from occupying centre-stage in this most populous State,'' he said. Most NGOs felt that the Government had 'always' treated NGOs as "second class citizens'' and not made them partners in the development of the nation. "NGOs are being asked to do this and that. The Government can build a strong monitoring system but there has to be mutual trust and confidence building,'' said Vasanthi Pai from Karnataka.

    Source: The Hindu

    28 December 2002, New Delhi, India

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