Presently, India is the second largest populated country in the world. India represents 17% of the world’s population that accounts to more than 1,15,00,00,000 people. According to the “World Prospectus: The Revision,” released by the UN, India with 1.3 billion inhabitants would surpass China’s population of 1.4 billion by 2024, to become the world’s most populous country. Every nook and corner of India is a clean display of increasing population. Whether it is metro station, airport, railway station, road, highway, bus stop, shopping mall, market or even a social/religious gathering, there is a swelling crowed any time of the day. This is a horrible scenario and a clear indication of over population in the country. Too much population is trapping people in a web of poverty and illiteracy which further escalates the problem. Population explosion is the mother of all evils in our country.
Poverty, diseases, violence, unemployment, pollution are some of the evils that provide obstacles to the country’s progress. Family planning and welfare programmes and population policies have not yielded the desired result and population is on the increase putting extra burden on our limited infrastructure and negating whatever progress we have achieved. The difference between birth rate and death rate is one of the reasons. Though, according to 2011 census, birth rate has actually come down but this has been neutralized by fast declining death rates due to better sanitation and health facilities. Coupled with this life expectancy has also increased to 64 years. The medical boon has brought the curse of over population. Even though legally the marriageable age of a girl is 18 years, the concept of early marriage still prevails at many places. Getting married at a young age prolongs the child bearing age as well as illiteracy (young girls are not educated enough to understand family control methods) also helps in increasing the population. The old cultural norm of sons as the bread earners of the families in India puts considerable pressure on the parents to produce children till a male child is born. Poverty is another factor for the rapid growth of population. Poor families have this notion that the more the number of members in the family, the more will be the number of persons to earn income. Thus, it increases the population. We cannot ignore the fact that illegal migration is continuously taking place from Bangladesh, Nepal leading to increase in population density in India. Another factor that encourages growth rate is religion. Some communities consider any mandate or statutory method of prohibition to be sacrilegious. India, being a secular state, cannot exercise any check or restraint on religious grounds. Illiteracy is another cause of over population. Educated persons are more aware of the family planning concepts and illiterate people are either unaware about the birth control methods or are unwilling to discuss about it. Uneducated people are not aware of adverse effects of having too many people in a family. Even after 70 years of independence, the scenario of India is not good, due to over population. It has become a threat for the development in India. The growth of population has a direct effect on the living standards of people. That is why, despite our spectacular progress in the agricultural and industrial spheres since independence, our per capita income has not risen appreciably.
Some major impacts of high population are as follows:
- The rapidly growing population in India has led to the problem of shortage of food supply and heavy pressure on land. Inspite of the fact that more than 60% of its population is engaged in agriculture, people do not get even minimum necessary amount of food.
- Generating employment for a huge population in a country like India is very difficult. The number illiterate persons are increasing every year.
- Development of infrastructural facilities is unfortunately not keeping pace with the growth of population. The result is lack of transportation, communication, housing, education, healthcare etc.
- In the face of an increasing population, the unequal distribution of income and inequalities within the country widen.
- Unmanageable population size may contribute to political instability and unrest. The failure of the government to provide the basic minimum facilities to the people contributes to agitation and unrest among the masses.
- Economic development is bound to be slower in a country in which the population is growing at a very fast rate. Absence of savings results in low capital formation.
- There will be large proportion of unproductive consumers due to over population. Rapid increase in the population contributes to an increase in the dependency ratio.
- When there is a rapid growth of population, the government is required to provide the minimum facilities for the people for their comfortable living. Hence, it has to increase housing, educational, public health, communication and other facilities that will increase the cost of the social overheads.
- Ignorance, illiteracy, unhygienic living conditions and lack of proper recreation have remained the cause of population problem in India.
The government cannot ignore the problem of population explosion as the entire development of the country depends on how effectively it is stemmed. The government of India, politicians, policy makers should initiate a bold population policy so that the economic growth of the country can keep peace with the demands of a growing population. Major steps that have already been implemented to control population are – increasing the welfare and status of women and girls, spread of education, increasing awareness for the use of contraceptives and family planning methods. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched two new free contraceptives Antara and Chhaya in 10 states under Mission Parivar Vikas (improved family planning services). Sex education encouraging male sterilisation and spacing birth, free distribution of contraceptives and condoms among the poor, encouraging female empowerment, more health care centres for the poor, etc. can play a major role in controlling population.
India’s strength in the global world in various fields cannot be ignored, whether in science and technology, medicine and health care, business and industry, military, communication, entertainment, literature and many more. Experts are hopeful that by increasing public awareness and enlisting strict population control norms by the government will definitely lead the way for the country’s economic prosperity and population control.