Mother-in-law, daughter-in-law meet to curb births

Patna: What better way to curb the birth rate than have a mother-in-law-daughter-in-law conference? And Bihar is doing just that.

Authorities are holding “Saas-Bahu Sammelan” (mother-in-law — daughter-in-law conferences) to check the population boom in the state, which remains a matter of serious concern. The current fertility rate in Bihar is 3.2, which is much higher than the national fertility rate of 2.2. Thirty-seven of Bihar’s 38 districts are holding these conferences — Patna is the exception.

“We hope to bring the fertility rate considerably down through this move,” Programme Officer of Bihar State Health Society S. Ahmad told the media ion Sunday.

Authorities said during such conferences, both mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law will talk about containing child birth, which could prove to be a boon for the state. It is believed the meeting of two generations will also bridge the gap in their attitudes and beliefs about reproductive and sexual health, which will ultimately help in population stablisation. At least 10 mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law will attend every such conference.

Bihar figures among seven Indian states where the fertility rate remains quite high. The other six states include Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Assam. Under the centre’s initiative, such conferences are to be held in 146 districts across India. Of them, 37 districts alone fall in Bihar.

Bihar has failed to contain the fertility rate despite all efforts adopted by the authorities. However, chief minister Nitish Kumar is hopeful of containing the population through education. “If all the girls in the state study up to class 12, we can achieve the national average in terms of fertility rate or do even better than it. So, we have decided to open a plus two school in every village,” chief minister told a function to mark Teacher’s Day last year.

He added that the education of girls has a direct bearing on fertility rate in Bihar, where it has gone down to 3.2 from 3.9. “It has been found in studies in the country that if the wife is a matriculate than the fertility rate will be two and this has been the situation in Bihar. If the wife has passed the intermediate examination the fertility rate is 1.7 but it was 1.6 in Bihar,” he said.


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