On Going Programmes of Population, Health & Nutrition in the Region

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The World is entering a new era in the relationship between population size, resource adequacy and living standards. Declining food production per person in largely agrarian societies can quickly translate into falling incomes as well. This is specially, true for the 1/5th of the world's population which resides on the vast slumps of South Asia constituted of Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, and Bangladesh. These people are sitting on the proverbial "People Bomb", unaware that at any instant it could explode and leave nothing.

For the poor developing nations that comprise this region, over population is a rampaging beast threatening to gobble resources that they possess. To cope with the present situation South Asian countries have adopted various programmes of population, health and nutrition. In order to present the clearer picture it is obligatory to compare the basis growth rate, population, health and nutrition situations in the countries.

Some basic indicators of South Asian countries are as follows:-

According to calculations made in 1990, Sri Lanka has the highest GNP value of 470 US$. Its growth rate was 2.4%. Nepal has the least GNP value of 190 US$ whereas the growth of GNP was just 1.8% during the last decade. The second highest GNP value is that of Maldives i.e. 440 US$ Pakistan comes third with a GNP value of US$ 380 and the growth rate of GNP was 2.9%. India possesses a GNP value of US$350 and the growth rate of 3.2%. Bangladesh has a GNP value of US$ 200 and its growth rate is 1.0%. Bhutan's GNP value is 190 US$ and the growth rate is 1.8%. Sri Lanka has the highest literacy rate of 88%. India come 2nd with a literacy rate of 48%. Nepal and Bhutan both have the literacy rate of 38%. Bangladesh and Pakistan have the least literacy rate of 35% while literacy in Maldives is 36%.


The careful analysis of the average annual growth rate of South Asia during the last three decades reveals that the average growth rate from 1965-73 was 2.4% in the region. Fortunately the high rate of population growth and its adverse effects were recognised and population policies and programmes were introduced to bring the rate down. As a consequence of the programmes there was a slight but important decrease in the population growth rate i.e. in 1980-90, it decreased by 0.1% and became 2.3%.


                                            US$       Growth
                                Literacy    GNP       Rate of
                      Area      Rate        Capita    GNP
Name of Country      (Sq/Km)    1990 (%)    1990      1990 (%)

Pakistan             796,096       35        380       2.9
Sri Lanka             65,610       88        470       2.4
India              3,287,590       48        350       3.2
Bhutan                47,000       38        190       7.4
Nepal                147,181       38        170       1.8
Bangladesh           144,000       35        200       1.0
Maldives                 300       36        440       --

It is further expected that in 2000 it will decrease by 1.9% Pakistan has the 2nd highest rate and the value is 3.1%.

During the last decade, it was seen that the highest growth rate is that of Maldives. The value of population growth rate reaches up to 3.7%. Nepal has the third highest growth rate. The value is 2.7%. Bangladesh has the population growth rate of 2.5% and that of Bhutan is 2.2%.

India's growth rate is 2.1% and Sri Lanka has the least population growth rate i.e. 1.5%.

For population and fertility rate of each country as in 1991 see Table-II

Life expectancy in the region varies from 71 years in Sri Lanka to 48 years in Bhutan.

The population density found to be the highest in Bangladesh and least in Bhutan. The value of population density was 2064/sq.km. in Bangladesh as calculated in 1990. Maldives has a population density of 1882/sq. …