Demographers expect India’s population to soon surpass that of China by 2025 making it the world’s most populous country. High fertility, reduced mortality, education, and migration are the major factors that contribute to India’s steady population growth. In the post Independence era, population growth has posed additional challenges in India’s effort to eradicate poverty. Achieve greater equality, combat hunger and malnutrition and strengthen the coverage and quality of health and education systems to ensure that no one is left behind.
Several solutions to decrease the rate of population increase have been tried by successive governments, some successful, some unsuccessful. Although the rate of population increase has come down, the outcome has not been satisfactory. The effects of INDIA’S POPULATION increase are evident in the increasing poverty, unemployment, air and water pollution, shortage of food, health resources, and educational resources.
Factors Leading to Over Population
Early and universal marriage, preference for a male child, joint family system, early puberty, poverty, the impact of religion, female illiteracy, inadequate information. Access to effective contraception are some of the major factors that contribute to high birth rate in India.
High Birth Rate:
The Crude Birth Rate (CBR) of India in 1971 was 36.9 and Crude Death Rate (CDR) was just 14.9, similarly in 1991 CBR was 29.5 and CDR was 9.8, in 2011 CBR was 21.8 and CDR was 7.1.
Thus, the death rate in India was far below the birth rate in succeeding decades of independence that became one of the principal reasons for overpopulation.
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Poverty is the cause as well as consequence of overpopulation: In an over-populated economy, income and resources are poorly distributed among the people. It is often seen that power and resources are concentrated in the hands of a few. According to an annual study released in 2019 by Oxford, an international group focusing data related to poverty across the world.
India’s top 10 percent of the population holds 77.4 percent of total national wealth, whereas, the bottom 60 percent of Indians own merely 4.8 percent of national wealth.
Mainly female illiteracy is also one of the main causes of overpopulation. Education, late marriages, and birth rates are inter-related. Higher level of education makes individuals qualitative and they prefer late marriages, few children, and dignified life. Therefore, education directly affects the birth rate and population growth. The consent and empowerment of females to the extent that they can refuse to produce more children is extremely essential. In societies wherein women receive qualitative education and are more empowered, it has been observed that there is a sharp decline in the birth rate because women prefer their careers over child-rearing.
Preference for Male Child:
In most Indian families, sons are considered the bread earners. This age-old thought puts considerable pressure on the parents to produce children until a male child is born. The more the better!
Child Marriage is illegal in India but early marriage is still prevalent in some parts of the country. Early childbearing has significant implications. Women married before 18 are likely to have more children, impacting their health and welfare as well as that of their families. More children in a household reduce the ability to pay for food, education, and healthcare. At a national level, child marriage contributes to population growth by increasing fertility.
Last but not the least; we cannot ignore the fact that illegal migration is continuously taking place from Bangladesh, Nepal leading to increased population density.
Effects of Over Population:
More people need more resources to survive. So, whenever there is an incessant rise in the population, an uneven relationship is established between resources and demography. In such a case, the per capital share of resources becomes low and uneven. Natural resources are finite and irreparable. An increase in the population puts pressure on the resources and they start to deplete rapidly.
In India, all the resources such as water, forests, oil, and minerals are being over exploited and they are depleting at a great speed, as a consequence, future generations are likely to suffer. Moreover, creating a means of livelihood for such a huge population is a serious challenge. According to a report of the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) in 2018, there were around 31 million unemployed people in the country seeking jobs.
Thus, this workforce which could be an asset for the economy is turning into a liability. Thus, the population explosion is defeating the basic notion of sustainable development which aims to fulfill the needs of the present generation without affecting the capabilities of the future generations to meet their needs.
Burden on the existing infrastructure:
The dense population is a burden on the existing infrastructure. The problems such as traffic jams, congestion, inadequate housing, increasing slums, and lack of hospitals, schools, colleges have become part of daily life. Moreover, huge-sized populations affect the efficiency and effectiveness of the administration and corruption becomes the norm in the society.
India has been ranked 78th out of the 180 countries in the Corruption Perception Index 2018 by Transparency International. As population increases, humans start to destroy forests for housing, industry, and to fulfill other needs and greed.
Consequently, flora and fauna are hunted or uprooted from their homeland bringing their very existence in danger. Several wildlife species like Cheetah, Sunderban dwarf rhinoceros have become extinct in India. Many others such as Great Indian Bustard, Gharial, Ganges Shark have been declared critically endangered and several such as Indian Rhinoceros, Barasingha, Gaur have been listed vulnerable by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Production of various goods in factories is also increasing to fulfill the demands of the ever-growing population. As a result, India is suffering from numerous problems like air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, noise pollution, and the death of land or marine animals due to toxins.
Measures Taken to Control Population:
After independence, India felt the need for population control and as a consequence. family planning was included in the First Five Plan (1951-56) and Second Five Year Plan (1956-61). In the 1950s, clinical, approach was adopted by the central government wherein family planning clinics were constructed across the country. Later, the ‘Extension Approach’ was adopted in the 1960s (Third Five Year plan 1961-66) under which sterilization technique for both men and women was proposed and couples were given advice on different types of family planning methods.
In the 1970s, the ‘Selective Approach’ was adopted in the Fourth Five Year Plan (1969-74) under which couples of age group 25-30 were encouraged to undergo sterilization and all kinds of birth control methods were tapped.
After that, during Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-79) First Population Policy was adopted in 1976 through which several measures were taken and most prominent of them were the increase in the marriageable age of girls from 14 to 18 and of boys from 18 to 21 and raising the financial support to people undergoing sterilization.
INDIA’S Population Policy:
But this population policy had several loopholes, so it was revised during the Janta Government and replaced by another population policy.
Under the new policy, sterilization was made voluntary, population education was made course of study and use of media was ensured for spreading awareness of family planning in rural areas.
Later, in the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Five Year Plans, attempts were made to control the population by long-term demographic goals. During the 1990s,
India adopted ‘target-free approaches’ and emphasized on more localized area plans instead of broad national plans. The year 2000 proved notable from the perspective of Population control because the new National Population Policy was adopted this year.
This population policy consists of some important provisions such as stabilization of population till 2045. The fulfillment of the unmet need of contraceptives, the achievement of Total Fertility Rate to the replacement level by 2010. At present, there is a popular demand to adopt new aggressive population policy and that should be implemented equally to all people.
An effective policy for birth control is the need of the hour but coercive policies like China’s one-child policy will not find takers in a democratic setup like India.
Moreover, China’s one-child policy has had many negative impacts like accelerated population aging, the skewed sex ratio. The decline in the working-age population.
This is the reason that China is revising its one-child policy. Hence, we should look at Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Indian state of Kerala or Karnataka which have successfully reduced birth rate through education and other measures. The fertility rate in India was 2.2 in 2017 that was just near to replacement level of 2.1.
But there is an uneven fertility rate in various parts of the country, for example. It is still high in the states such as Bihar (3.2), Uttar Pradesh (3.0), Madhya Pradesh (2.7), Rajasthan (2.6) and Chhattisgarh (2.4). But it is low in the states such as Andhra Pradesh (1.6), Tamilnadu (1.6) Karnataka (1.7), Kerala (1.7) and Maharashtra (1.7). Therefore, a targeted approach must be adopted at the district level to decrease fertility in those states where the fertility rate is still above the replacement level.
Suggestions INDIA’S POPULATION CHALLENGE :
Unwanted pregnancies and lack of easy access to contraception are also prominent causes of population growth. According to an estimate, the unmet need for contraception is 13%, which contributes 20% of projected population growth in the country. This means that over 30 million married women of reproductive age have no access to contraception (NFHS-4). Therefore, it must be the prime responsibility of the authorities to ensure availability, accessibility, and affordability of contraception. It is an established norm now that improving literacy and economic conditions lower the birth rate.
Therefore, the government must endeavor to increase the literacy rate in the country. Moreover, female education must be greatly emphasized. Mahatma Gandhi rightly quoted “if you educate a woman, you educate the entire family.”
An inclusive approach must be adopted at all levels – individual, family, society, and government. At the individual level, people should decide marriage when they find themselves economically, socially, and mentally sound.
At the family level, parents need to consider whether they are capable enough to give their child a better future? All societal groups must strike out outdated customs such as “son-meta preference”, girl is PARAYA DHAN (girl belongs to her husband), more boys more power, etc. At the government level, mass awareness campaigns must be undertaken involving NGOs. The government may consider initiatives for limiting birth rates such as incentives for small families in jobs, loans, and other public services, raising the legally marriageable age for both boys and girls. Promoting sterilization especially male sterilization, and encouraging the gap between children. Mass media such as T.V., Radio, newspaper, and social media must be used pro-actively by authorities to foster awareness.
About the negative impacts of INDIA’S POPULATION explosion and positive results of having smaller families.
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