The estimated figure of India’s current population is dutifully updated on a panel at the gate of the Population Research Centre on the Chinna Waltair Main Road in the city on the eve of the World Population Day every year, allowing for a good picture in the newspapers on July 11.
Inside the centre, however, there seems is a limited scope for undertaking research projects relating to family planning, demographic research and
biological studies & qualitative aspect of population control in the region to help update government policies – the purpose for which the centre was set up way back in 1978 here in the Andhra University campus.
An austere lack of researchers is what is plaguing the Population Research Centre in Vizag, the only such institute in the two Telugu states. Against a sanctioned strength of eight researchers, it is presently run with only two contractual investigators and one honorary director who is sourced from the Andhra University’s Statistics, Mathematics and Applied Mathematics Department in whose premises the centre is set up.
The centre, one of the 18 PRCs run across the country by the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) of the government of India, is categorised as a Type-II PRC and has a sanctioned staffing pattern of one senior research officer, one research officer, two research investigators, two field investigators and two research fellows on contractual basis apart from three office staff.
“From 2008 onwards, the staff strength was gradually on a decline for retirement etc. reasons. What we have with us now is the two research investigators on contract,” says B Muniswamy, a professor in the statistics department of the AU who is holding the additional charge of the honorary director of the PRC.
“A committee visited us a few months back promising to look into the staff strengthening aspect. As the research here is field based, a good number of investigators would allow us to study varied aspects of population’s health etc. and also acquire projects from outside agencies like the UN bodies, local GVMC apart from the MoHFW,” Muniswamy says.
The PRCs are fully funded by the MoHFW and are governed by its guidelines issued from time to time on the staffing pattern, eligibility conditions for filling various posts. These PRCs are however under the administrative control of their host University or Institutions which here is the AU.
In 1989, the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme recommended that 11 July be observed by the international community as World Population Day.