India’s total fertility rate has declined to 2 from 2.2 in five years, according to the latest findings of the National Family Health Survey, released on Wednesday. The total fertility rate is the average number of children a woman gives birth to in her lifetime.

On Wednesday, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released findings of Phase-II of the National Family Health Survey-5, which was conducted between 2019 and 2021.

Fourteen states and Union Territories were covered in the second phase of the survey. The findings of the first phase were released in December 2020.

In a statement on the findings, the Population Foundation of India noted that the fertility rate of 2 was lower than replacement level total fertility rate of 2.1.

Replacement rate is a crucial factor in the study of population growth. A replacement rate of less than 2.1 ensures the replacement of a woman and her partner upon death with no overall increase or decrease in the population.

“These findings bust the population explosion myth and show that India must steer away from coercive measures of population control,” the Population Foundation of India said.

Another major positive from the findings of the survey was that India’s overall contraceptive prevalence rate rose to 67% between 2019-’21, as compared to 54% recorded in the last survey conducted between 2015 and 2016.

The number of women respondents who have a bank account that they operate themselves has also increased to 79% from 53% recorded in the last survey.

However, the number of anaemic women and children in the country remained a matter of concern, the health ministry noted in a release on the survey.

The number of anaemic women in the reproductive age group (15 to 49) went up from 53.1% in 2015-16 to 57% in the latest survey.

The figure among children aged between six months and 59 months rose even more sharply, from 58.6% to 67.1%.

The Population Foundation of India pointed out that according to the survey numbers, a third of married women (aged 18 to 49) experienced spousal violence, but only 1.5% of women (aged 18 to 29) reported experiencing sexual violence before the age of 18.

This data, the population body said, indicated a significant underreporting of sexual violence against minors.