Population and Human Resources
I. Background and Evolution Research
Professor V.K.R.V.Rao, a visionary and founder of the Institute of Economic Growth, had strong conviction about the relevance of demographic research for evolving the country’s development perspective. Having had this conviction, Professor Rao has advised Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru in early fifties to constitute a committee with its mandate to provide an institutional framework for the development of research on population and its socio-economic dimensions. Professor Rao was subsequently asked to serve this Committee along with Professor P.C. Mahalanobis and Professor.D.R.Gadgil. Four Demographic Research Centers (DRCs) were established on the recommendation of this committee in all the four corners of the country, and the Demographic Research Centre of the Institute of Economic Growth, which was later renamed as the Population Research Centre (PRC) in 1972, was one of them.
Veterans including Professors Rao and B.N.Ganguli had initially designed the core research areas of Delhi PRC. These two and their successors including P.B. Desai, S.N. Agarwala, Ashish Bose, D.B. Gupta laid major emphasis to undertake studies featuring issues relating to both qualitative and quantitative aspects of population. Underlying spatial variations in fertility behavior and access to primary health services in rural areas were also accorded high priority in the Centre’s research agenda. Indirect demographic techniques to facilitate district level estimation of births, deaths, contraception, couple protection and women’s issues were some other areas of concern that drew serious attention by many of the successive faculty. The Center’s research programme was also tailored to specifically deal with important policy issues such as determinants and consequences of over-time changes in population structure and its inter or intra-regional variations. In more recent years, this Centre was also engaged in carrying out concurrent evaluations of programmes under government domain like school health or training of grass root health workers. The PRC (IEG) has also been holding major field surveys like RCH/MCH/NFHS, and doing studies on contemporary issues arising from various public policy documents including National Population Policy, National Health Policy, National Policy on Older persons, policies envisaged under the National Rural Health Mission, etc.
II. Research Themes Pursued During 2001 – 2006
The research themes pursued by the PRC faculty during the underlying period broadly covered the following.
Studies on measurement of basic demographic and health indicators like fertility, mortality, morbidity, use of contraception, RTIs and STDs, etc.
Several studies on quality of care in Delivery of Health care Services.
Evaluation of population policies and programmes with an explicit focus on accessibility, outreach and the quality of reproductive and child health care especially in demographically backward states.
Population, development and environmental linkages have been examined to draw inferences about health effects of ambient air pollution in parts of India and Nepal.
Gender inequality in the ownership and control of property and implications of this bias on women’s economic well being, social status and political voice have been studied. There are also studies on participatory exclusions, community forestry and gender.
The problem of ageing in India and South Asia including old age health and social security needs of the elderly have been studied by a series of studies, which are published in a form of a book. Public response to old age income security, health and livelihood issues, and activities of daily living (ADL) disabilities has also been studied.
A study was completed on ‘demographic bonus’ for India. This phase of population structure precede the ‘greying’ of population and provides countries a ‘window of opportunities’ to stride economically.
A comprehensive study was conducted on demographic perspective of falling sex ratio. Using Census and SRS, this study examined the decline in sex ratio since 1901, by disaggregating the trends by age groups, geographical regions and social groups.
Some other studies included ‘determinants and utilization of prenatal diagnostic technologies and sex ratio’, ‘spousal violence in relation to property ownership; ‘socio-economic and demographic causes and consequences of migration’; ‘demographic transition in different religious communities’, etc.
III. Proposed Agenda For Research: 2006-2011
There will be continuation and consolidation of some of the research subjects that have been pursued by the faculty over preceding years. Besides, the new areas of research interest among the faculty include:
Studies on demographic and epidemiological transition and its implications for population stabilization goals. Socio-economic factors impacting basic proximate determinants of fertility and population stabilization would also be examined.
Linkages between reproductive and child health, fertility and use of contraception using major secondary data sources like Census, NFHS, RCH, SRS, NSS and service statistics from the Ministry of Health & FW.
Studies on gender justice, and gender dimensions of the environmental governance and collective action in the management of common pool resources.
The role of effective land rights for livelihood security of the poor women, and for women’s empowerment.
The study of changes in age composition of population and its economic and health ramifications will continue to be one of the important areas of research.
The study of functional health of older persons: It assumes importance in view of considerable disease burden in the country. There are fairly higher chances of poor old age health pushing a large number of older persons to seek long-term care.
Offshore migration prospects of skilled Indian Labour given India’s age-education advantages.
An extension of existing studies of the changing structure of population, particularly the sex structure, as a result of widespread use of the techniques of sex selection and consequent female feticide.
Adolescent reproductive and sexual health will be pursed for research at micro-level for policy and programme formulations.
Studying the health seeking behaviour of women particularly for utilization of abortion services has become important for health managers and needs attention. The PRC faculty therefore proposes to examine Quality issue in abortion care.
A survey of the policy environment in selected states of the country in the context of demographic transition.
Political mapping of population and reproductive health issues: A sample of states, districts, development blocks and village panchayat will be selected to examine the two MDG linked goals – namely child survival and maternal health.
IV. PRC Faculty
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Census of India
Population and human resource trends: key indicators
Indian Association for Population Studies (IASP)