Context: India’s populationrelated concerns.
At present, India’s population stands at nearly 134 crore while China is inhabited by nearly 140 crore. Which means in another two years, India will overtake China. There is no denying that urgent and aggressive steps such as strict control policies and linking their observance with incentives are urgently needed to control the population.
Following are the main effects of population explosion:
- Problem of Investment Requirement: Indian population is growing at a rate of 1.8 percent per annum. In order to achieve a given rate of increase in per capita income, larger investment is needed.
- Effect on per Capita Income: Large size of population in India and its rapid rate of growth results into low per capita availability of capital. From 1950-51 to 1980-81. India’s national income grew at an average annual rate of 3.6 percent per annum. But per capita income had risen around one percent. It is due the fact that population growth has increased by 2.5 percent.
- Problem of Unemployment: Large size of population results in large army of labour force. But due to shortage of capital resources it becomes difficult to provide gainful employment to the entire working population. Disguised unemployment in rural areas and open unemployment in urban areas are the normal features of an under developed country like India.
- Low Standard of Living: Rapid growth of population accounts for low standard of living in India. Even the bare necessities of life are not available adequately.
- Poverty: Rising population increases poverty in India. People have to spend a large portion of their resources for bringing up of their wards. It results into less saving and low rate of capital formation.
- Population and social problems: Population explosion gives rise to a number of social problems. It leads to migration of people from rural areas to the urban areas causing the growth of slum areas. People live in most unhygienic and insanitary conditions.
- More Pressure on Land: Rising rate of population growth exerts pressure on land. On the one hand, per capita availability of land goes on diminishing and on the other, the problem of sub-division and fragmentation of holdings goes on increasing.
- Impact on Maternity Welfare: In India, population explosion is the result of high birth rate. High birth rate reduces health and welfare of women. Frequent pregnancy without having a gap is hazardous to the health of the mother and the child. This leads to high death rate among women in the reproductive age due to early marriage. Hence to improve the welfare and status of women in our society, we have to reduce the birth rate.
- Pressure on Environment: Population explosion leads to environmental degradation. Higher birth rate brings more pollution, more toxic wastes and damage to biosphere.
Recent Controversial views on population Control:
- On July 11, World Population Day, a Union Minister expressed alarm, in a Tweet, over what he called the “population explosion” in the country, wanting all political parties to enact population control laws and annulling the voting rights of those having more than two children.
- A prominent businessman-yoga guru wanted the government to enact a law where “the third child should not be allowed to vote and enjoy facilities provided by the government”
Problem with such views:
- The demand of state control is on the perception that a large and growing population is at the root of a nation’s problems as more and more people chase fewer and fewer resources.
- Such views can breed hatred among people and can result into violent clashes especially towards poor and minorities.
India has always looked at population so that it truly becomes a thriving resource; the life blood of a growing economy. Today, as many as 23 States and Union Territories, including all the States in the south region, already have fertility below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman. So, support rather than control works.
Primary Reason of Population Explosion:
- Family health, child survival and the number of children a woman has are closely tied to the levels of health and education.
- The poor tend to have more children because child survival is low, son preference remains high, children lend a helping hand in economic activity for poorer households and so support the economic as well as emotional needs of the family. This is well known, well understood and well established.
- As the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16) notes, women in the lowest wealth quintile have an average of 1.6 more children than women in the highest wealth quintile, translating to a total fertility rate of 3.2 children versus 1.5 children moving from the wealthiest to the poorest.
- Similarly, the number of children per woman declines with a woman’s level of schooling. Women with no schooling have an average 3.1 children, compared with 1.7 children for women with 12 or more years of schooling. This reveals the depth of the connections between health, education and inequality, with those having little access to health and education being caught in a cycle of poverty, leading to more and more children, and the burden that state control on number of children could impose on the weakest.
There should be a clear understanding that offering choices and services rather than outright state control works best.
National Population Policy:
The National Population Policy (NPP) 2000 is uniformly applicable to the whole country. In pursuance of this policy, Government has taken a number of measures under Family Planning Programme and as a result, Population Growth Rate in India has reduced substantially which is evident from the following:
- The percentage decadal growth rate of the country has declined significantly from 21.5% for the period 1991-2001 to 17.7% during 2001-2011.
- Total Fertility Rate (TFR) was 3.2 at the time when National Population Policy, 2000 was adopted and the same has declined to 2.3.
India’s Demographic transition (Economic Survey 2018-19):
India is set to witness a sharp slowdown in population growth in the next two decades. Although the country as a whole will enjoy the “demographic dividend” phase, some states will start transitioning to an ageing society by the 2030s. The age distribution, however, implies that India’s working-age population will grow by roughly 9.7mn per year during 2021-31 and 4.2mn per year in 2031-41.
Recent Demographic Trends:
- Population growth in India has been slowing in recent decades from an annual growth rate of 2.5 per cent during 1971-81 to an estimated 1.3 per cent as of 2011-16.
- As per the NSSO Periodic Labour Force Survey 2017-18, India’s labour force participation rate or the age-group 15-59 years is around 53 per cent (80 per cent for males, 25 per cent for females). Depending on the trajectory of labour force participation during 2021-41, additional jobs will need to be created to keep pace with the projected annual increase in working-age population of 9.7 million during 2021-31 and 4.2 million during 2031-41.
- At the other end of the age scale, policy makers need to prepare for ageing. This will need investments in health care as well as a plan for increasing the retirement age in a phased manner.
Way Forward: A consciousness has to be brought about, either by increasing the awareness of the people with a sprinkling of some punitive or coercive measures, which are bound to boomerang in a democracy like India. They can be successful only in authoritarian regimes like China, not in India. We do have existing policy and initiatives but there is no doubt that there has to be drastic enforcement.