7 PM Editorial |Population Explosion and India’s Concerns| 15th July 2020

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Population Explosion and India’s Concerns


11th July is world population day since 1987 when the global population reached 5 billion. It was designated to bring attention to population explosion and its issues. Issues like health problems faced by childbearing women,importance of family planning, gender equality, poverty, maternal health and human rights are highlighted.

Current global population is 7.8 billion and is expected to rise to 9 billion by 2050. Hence it is important to raise awareness of the effects of overpopulation on development, environment and planet.

Theme of world population day, 2020:

Theme is to raise awareness about safeguarding sexual and reproductive health needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls during the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic, if the lockdown continues for 6 months, with continued major disruption to health services, then 47 million women in low and middle-income countries might not have access to modern contraceptives. This leads to unintended pregnancies. This can lead to rise in gender-based violence, female genital mutilation and child marriages, going ahead.

Further, even in normal times, 800 women die everyday during childbirth. With the pandemic disrupting normal healthcare services, Maternal Mortality Rate(MMR) is expected to rise. We can see this already in some hospitals denying deliveries without COVID 19 test report.

Hence the theme of this year assumes significance due to enhanced vulnerabilities to women.

India’s concerns in checking overpopulation:

India has 2% of global land mass with 16% of global population. Trends seen in Indian population are:

  • Decadal population growth rate between 2001 and 2011 was 18%(about 18 crore more people).
  • India’s population in 2019 was estimated to be 1.37 billion.
  • It is expected to surpass China in the next 7 years and cross 1.6 billion by 2050.

In such a context, there are major concerns in checking overpopulation. These are:

  1. Higher birth rate than death rate:
    1. Till the mid 20th century, birth and death rates were equal in India, resulting in a stable population.
    2. Since the mid 20th century, India has experienced population explosion. This was due to reduction in death rateswith gradual improvement in the access to healthcare facilities, level of education, availability of proper nutrition and diet etc. It resulted in a triangular population pyramid and expanding population.
    3. In 2020, India has registered a birth rate at18.2 per 1000 population and death rate at 7.3 per 1000 population.
  2. Poverty and illiteracy:
    1. Children are seen as assets by poor families to earn more. Hence population growth is more concentrated in economically weaker sections of society and poorer regions of the country.
    2. Female literacy has a direct impact on fertility rates with educated mothers having lower. Female illiteracy in India is about 39% in 2011. This results in lack of knowledge about contraceptives, consequences of frequent childbirth and reproductive rights.
  3. Family planning and social factors: Societal attitudes are contributing to population explosion
    1. Use of condoms declined by 52% over eight years and vasectomies fell to 73%(National Family Health survey, 2015-16). This shows failure of family planning programmes.
    2. More children are preferred in order to take care of parents in old age
    3. Patriarchal attitudes
      • Women lack agency in decision of family planning like when to plan for a child and gap between pregnancies
      • Male child preferenceleading to childbirth till a male child is born. Economic survey 2017-18 has pointed out 21 million unwanted girls due to this.

4.Total Fertility rate(TFR): It is the average number of children born to women during reproductive age. TFR of 2.1 is called the replacement rate as it results in a stable population. Trends in India are:

    1. In 2016, TFR was 2.3. It was decline in the last decade
    2. Poorer states like Bihar (3.2), Uttar Pradesh (3.1), Jharkhand (2.7) and Rajasthan (2.7) still have TFRs above 2.5
    3. Poorest household has a TFR of 3.2 children per woman compared to 1.5 children per woman from the affluent families

Hence we see concentration of population growth in economically weaker sections.

  1. High youth unemployment and demographic disaster: 28% of Indian population is youth(15-29 years old) which is the highest in the world. Due to this there is a potential of demographic dividend where high youth employment results in higher growth. Yet India is facing a challenge of unemployment:
      1. Only 7 million of 25 million new workforce get secure jobs annually
      2. 18% of youth is unemployed
      3. 33% of youth is not in employment, education and training.

This is resulting in a demographic dividend turning into a demographic disaster.

Way forward:

Overpopulation acts as hurdle in addressing poverty, malnutrition, hunger, gender equality,  and in providing heallth and education. Hence it need to be addressed to attain Sustainable Development goals(SDG’s)

Family planning must be made more effective. National Family Planning Program has failed in checking population growth. Hence it need to be made effective by multistakeholder approach by involving governments(national, state, local), civil society, businesses and citizens. Use of contraception and vasectomies; awareness on sexual and reproductive rights of women must be promoted.

Human capital need to be developed. Economic planning must focus on adequate education and training of large youth population. Skill training must focus on outcomes of employment post training rather than number of trainees.

Only by addressing challenges of overpopulation in India can we achieve the vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘New India’.

Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Mains Question:
  1. Overpopulation puts burden on limited economic resources. Discuss challenges faced by India in controlling population growth? What effect does COVID 19 have on population control?[15 marks, 250 words]
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