State of World Population (SWP) Report 2023 and India’s population – Explained, pointwise

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The State of World Population (SWP) Report 2023 by UNFPA reveals that India has just surpassed China as the most populous country, with a population of 142.86 crores compared to China’s 142.57 crores. This milestone marks a significant demographic shift and highlights the need to address the challenges and opportunities that come with India’s growing population, in areas such as healthcare, education, and economic development.  

About the State of World Population report

The State of World Population Report is an annual publication by UNFPA, released every year since 1978. A recent report highlights emerging issues in sexual and reproductive health and rights. By bringing these topics to the forefront, the report explores the challenges and opportunities they offer for global development. The report aims to create awareness and encourage conversations around these critical subjects in order to promote better understanding and informed decision-making.  

Note: UNFPA is formally named the United Nations Population Fund. The organization was created in 1969, the same year the United Nations General Assembly declared “parents have the exclusive right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.”  

UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. It’s mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.  

What are the key findings of the State of World Population report?  

Women lacked reproductive rights: 44% of women can’t make choices about their reproductive health, contraception and whether to have sex.  

Climate crisis and migration: The report takes into account newer developments such as the climate crisis and the impact on population trends, as well as the growing number of migrants who are becoming permanent immigrants.  

Eight countries driving growth: By 2050, eight countries will account for half of the projected global population growth: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Tanzania. 

Low fertility countries: Two-thirds of people live in countries with low fertility rates. Europe is the only region expected to experience an overall population decline between now and 2050.  

High fertility countries: African countries have the highest fertility rates, including Niger, Chad, DR Congo, Somalia, Mali, and the Central African Republic. 

Lowest birth rates: Territories with the lowest birth rates are Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Macau, San Marino, Aruba, and China.  

Read more: State of World Population Report, 2023: India’s population to edge ahead of China’s by mid-2023, says U.N.  

What are the findings of the State of World Population report on India’s Population?  

The key findings of the UN Population Fund’s report on India are:  

Most populous country: India’s population is projected to reach 142.86 crores by mid-2023, slightly surpassing China’s 142.57 crore population.  

Slowing population growth: India’s population growth has slowed down significantly in the past 10 years, with the total fertility rate (TFR) declining to 2 in 2020-2021 from about 3.4 in the early 1990s. A TFR of 2.1 is necessary for a country to attain population stability.  

Population projections: India’s population is forecast to grow to 1.67 billion in 2050 and peak at 1.7 billion in 2064 before settling at 1.53 billion in 2100, according to UN estimates.  

Potential demographic dividend: Two-thirds of India’s total population are between the ages of 15 and 64, which presents a potential demographic dividend if education, skill development, and opportunities are provided, particularly for youth from disadvantaged sections and women.  

India population anxieties: The report highlights that population anxieties have seeped into large portions of the general public, and in some cases, coercive methods have been introduced in family planning policies in certain states.  

The report emphasizes the importance of empowering women, investing in education and healthcare, and creating opportunities for skill development to take advantage of the demographic dividend. It also cautions against coercive family planning measures and underscores the need for democratic institutions to address challenges and debates arising from population dynamics.  

What are the opportunities created by a rising population?  

A rising population, particularly a young one like India’s, creates numerous opportunities that can contribute to economic growth and social development. Some of these opportunities include: 

Demographic dividend: With a large working-age population (15-64 years), India can leverage its demographic dividend to drive economic growth and enhance productivity.  

Human capital: India’s population presents a vast pool of human resources that can be nurtured to develop critical thinkers, innovators, and leaders, shaping the country’s growth story in the coming decades.  

Innovation and entrepreneurship: A young population can lead to increased innovation and entrepreneurship, with more startups and unicorns emerging in various sectors like healthcare, education, agriculture, and financial services.  

STEM graduates: India has a large pool of STEM graduates, including a high percentage of women, providing the country with a skilled workforce that can contribute to scientific and technological advancements.  

Skill development: Investments in skill development can help create a demand-driven ecosystem that addresses market needs and increases employment opportunities.  

Increased consumption: A larger, skilled workforce with better paying jobs leads to higher consumption, boosting the economy and contributing to overall development.  

Financial inclusion: As more people join the formal workforce, the reach of financial services will expand, further strengthening India’s financial inclusion and digital payments ecosystem.  

Women’s empowerment: With an increased focus on women-led development, India can benefit from higher female labor force participation rates, leading to improved economic and social outcomes.  

Climate action and sustainability: A young and educated population can drive sustainable development by prioritizing climate action and adopting environmentally friendly practices.  

Global influence: India’s rising population, combined with its position as the world’s largest democracy and a major economy, can help it become a global manufacturing hub, startup capital, and exporter of skilled manpower.  

To fully capitalize on these opportunities, India needs to invest in health, nutrition, education, skill development, and financial inclusion for its young population, while also prioritizing climate action and sustainability.  

What are the adverse implications of the current population trend in India?

Read here: The UN World Population Prospects Report and Population Issues in India – Explained, pointwise  

How can India effectively manage the rising population?

Education and awareness: Invest in education and awareness campaigns to promote family planning, reproductive health, and gender equality. For example, expanding access to sexual education and contraceptive resources can help couples make informed decisions about family planning.  

Empowering women: Empower women by promoting gender equality, education, and economic opportunities. For instead, ensuring equal access to education and job opportunities can help women become financially independent and make informed decisions about their reproductive health.  

Healthcare improvements: Improve access to quality healthcare services, particularly maternal and child health services. For example, expanding access to prenatal and postnatal care can help reduce infant mortality rates and improve overall family health.  

Economic development: Promote economic development and job creation to provide a stable environment for families. Such as, investing in infrastructure and supporting small businesses can create job opportunities and help lift families out of poverty.  

Skilling and employment: Focus on skill development and employment opportunities for the youth to capitalize on the demographic dividend. For example, creating vocational training programs and partnering with industries can help prepare young people for the job market.  

Sustainable development: Implement sustainable development policies to manage resources and reduce environmental impacts. Such as, promoting renewable energy and sustainable agriculture practices can help meet the needs of a growing population without depleting natural resources.  

Urban planning: Improve urban planning and infrastructure to accommodate the growing population. For instead, investing in public transportation, housing, and sanitation systems can help support a growing urban population while maintaining a high quality of life.  

Migration management: Develop policies and systems to support and manage internal and external migration. For example, providing support services for migrant families, such as access to education and healthcare, can help ensure their well-being and integration into society. 

Source: Indian Express (Article 1 and Article 2), The Hindu, UNFPA, Times of India and Livemint

Syllabus: GS 1: Population and associated issues.

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