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Wednesday, September 2, 1998 Published at 00:57 GMT 01:57 UK

World: South Asia

India's battle with population growth

The world's population is set to keep growing

As the UN publishes its latest findings on the state of the world's population, Social Affairs Editor Niall Dickson reports from India, where the number of people has more than tripled in the last 50 years:

Watch Niall Dickson's report from Uttar Pradesh
In India, the battle to stabilise population growth continues.

Although the country's population is expected to reach a billion by the year 2001, traditional values remain: bigger families mean more workers, and boys are seen as more valuable than girls.

However, it is a myth that the women in India's villages all want as many children as possible.

Many are simply frightened that their children will die young. Education and services to control their own fertility are not always available.

[ image: Family planning in India reaches a wide audience]
Family planning in India reaches a wide audience
But attitudes are changing, and educating India's young women is seen as the key to population stability.

In some areas, young girls are learning about relationships, sex and contraception, subjects which would once have been taboo.

A new breed of family planning clinics is taking methods of education to rural areas where families of more than five children are common.

They distribute information about contraception and use music and drama to suggest that smaller families can be fun. The days of India's enforced sterilisations are long gone.

In India and other parts of the developing world, women are now having fewer children.

With the right approach, the population should, eventually, stop growing.

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