India’s Booming Population, Boon or Bane?

A pie chart showing major countries and their population percentage with the world

India with a population count of almost 1.35 Billion stands second in the entire planet after China. There are certain nations with similar ‘people per sq. Km’ ratios, one such example is of Japan and it has done remarkably great in terms of its wonderfully boosted economy. Can India do the same? Well, so far it has come up good with rising potential. The only question arises, could it come up to those expectations, because a lot has to done if India seeks to turn its massive population into its favour. If India looks to change its economy towards higher standards alike Japan, Indian citizens need to follow those strict discipline like the Japanese. More indigenous business setups has to be established to make India self-reliant and for this its humongous population with majority of youth (60 Cr. Plus) has to work much more seriously. A combined effort of its huge population would do wonders for India, it’s just that India needs to realise this before it’s too late to recover.

The main impact the growing population has is on the economic growth as a modest increase in national income under economic development is being eaten up by the increase in population. As a result, the per capita income of the country does not grow which in turn results in a poor standard of living. So, the overall development of the country and rise in per capita income are directly linked to population.

There is a similar scare mongering about too high a population density of Indian cities. According to them, cities are better with a lesser number of people so that they have less crowded roads, large expansive houses and lesser number of riders on commuter trains. But aren’t the advocates of sparsely populated cities arguing against their own economic well-being. Cities are vast and teeming with people not because city-dwellers like it that way but because economy and business demands it.

The rate of population growth depends on the difference between the birth rate and the death rate. Thus, the population growth experienced in India can largely be explained by variations in birth and death rates.

In 1900, India’s population count was roughly 24 Cr. In 1950-51, India’s population was 36 Cr. In 2001 it jumped to 100 Cr. This population begun soaring in the 1950s and saw the highest decadal growth of 24.8 per cent in the 1960s and 24.7 per cent in the 1970s. Since the 1980s, decadal growth has been falling and the 1990s saw a significant fall. In fact, India’s total fertility rate – a measure of the number of children born to a woman during her lifetime – was down from 5.9 in 1951 to 2.3 in 2011. The fertility rate due to the population policies and other measures has been falling but even then it is much higher compared to other countries. This means that the birth rate has been falling, but with rapid progress in medical sciences, the death rate has fallen which has ensured that the population grows.

Other reasons that have contributed to high birth rates are early marriages, lack of awareness, poverty and illiteracy, and illegal migration.

A recent report by the UN predicts that India’s population could surpass that of China by around 2024. And this is despite the fact that the country has one of the oldest family planning programmes in the world, dating back to 1951.

In the year 2017, the government of India launched Mission Parivar Vikas as a part of its national family planning initiative. It marks the first attempt at the government level to deal with family planning as a social issue rather than just a health issue, to be dealt with at a health centre. The initiative incorporates a component called ‘Saas Bahu Sammelans’ aimed at improving communication between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. It would not be right to say that the programs initiated by the government to rein in population growth have not been successful. A fertility rate of about 2.1 is a benchmark figure for ensuring a broadly stable population.

The growth should be stabilised by raising awareness among all the citizens on India, specifically in the rural regions of India because this isn’t just the government’s task from planning committee. This concerns each individual of India and to the world as well. Where we have reached so far could not be undone, this is obvious but what we could definitely do is make good use of it. Let’s engage, educate and expand the minds of Indians, specifically the Youth.