Friday, August 19, 2022

Not a flattering achievement

India is set to overtake China as the world’s most populous country sometime in 2023, according to a United Nations estimate. China and India accounted for the largest populations in these regions, with more than 1.4 billion each in 2022. A report revealed that India’s population stands at 1.412 billion in 2022, compared to China’s 1.426 billion. By November 2022, the planet will be home to 8bn. More than half the growth to be witnessed in the next 30 years will happen in just eight countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania. China had maintained its record as the world’s most populous nation till 2019 when it had 1.43 billion people as against 1.37 billion in India. This might be not only because the rate of population growth in India is higher than in China, but the latter is also expected to experience an absolute decline in its population as early as 2023. The story behind China’s population control was that it has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world (at 1.15 children per woman). China had announced that its population was due to start declining by 2021 much earlier than previously thought. That is despite the country abandoning its one child policy in 2016 and introducing incentives for couples to have two or more children. In the decade up to 2020, China’s population grew at its slowest rate since the 1950s. By 2021 its population stood at 141.2 crore people, with the rate of growth falling for the fourth consecutive year.This increasing population in India will put additional pressure on resources, which are already stretched. Changes in a country’s population size are always a result of the demographic transitions. One such phase is where the growth of the working age population — aged 15-64 years — is temporarily higher than the combined shares at younger and older ages.Population control has been an official government policy ever since India launched its family planning programme in 1952. India has always been not very far from China’s population figure. The forced sterilisation during the emergency in 1975 also had its share blame for the failure of the family planning when Sanjay Gandhi made it an agenda. Recently there are have many debates in India on population control. Unfortunately, some Muslim spokespersons and various opposition political parties feel it is all about controlling minority birth rates, not realising that it is a must for all Indians in order to develop into a first world country. India has more than three times the population of the United States and less than one third of its land mass. The issue was placed on the national frontburner two years ago when Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned it in his Independence Day speech in 2019. Modi highlighted India’s rising population which he said, posed serious problems for India’s future generations. He invoked national patriotism while illustrating that those who follow the policy of small family also contribute to the development of the nation. India has not option but to revisit family planning with more seriousness by getting all communities, NGOs and government agencies together.

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