World Population Day was established in 1989 by the then Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme, the rationale being the interest generated by ‘The Day of Five Billion’, on 11 July 1987 – the date on which the world’s total population reached five billion people.
This day highlights the problem of overpopulation and aims to develop awareness about the impact of overpopulation on the environment. It also talks about the importance of family planning, gender equality, poverty, maternity health, and human rights.
INDIA – Population on the Rise
- With more than 200 countries in the world, India & China are the only two countries having a population of over 1 billion and solely account for 36.28% of the total world population. China has successfully slowed down its population growth through the One-Child Policy. Even though the policy was abolished in 2016, people have been unwilling to have more than one child and that is the main reason behind China expecting a contraction in their population in the coming years.
- On the other hand, population growth in India is rising at an alarming rate of 1% per year compared to a 0.4% growth rate of China, the World’s Most Populated country. At this rate, India is set to overtake China by 2027 according to the UN’s 2019 World Population Prospects Report. The two major reasons for the rapid population growth in India are its high fertility rate (India: 2.2%, China: 1.7%) and widespread illiteracy (India: 28.8%, China: 3.6%).
- The population density in India is 464/km sq. which has resulted in an increase in pressure upon natural resources such as land, water, and food. Overpopulation has also led to uncontrollable levels of waste generation and traffic. The high population density and urbanization have also increased the problem of air, water, land, and noise pollution in India.
India – The world’s largest youth population
- India has the largest youth population in the world with over 65% of its population under the age of 35, the median age group being 26.8 years. The massive youth population is a significant resource for the developing Indian economy. Thus, with the increased investment in education and health sectors and the provision of incentives to boost entrepreneurship amongst the youth, India can reach new heights in terms of economic growth and prosperity.
- Education is the essence of human resource development and primarily the most important aspect for the major part of the Indian population comprising the education seeking youth. As per a report of the External Affairs Ministry, more than 753,000 Indian students are studying abroad as compared to 66,736 students a decade ago. This highlights the lack of educational infrastructure and opportunities to meet the demand and aspirations of students in India.
Government measures to control Population
India is the world’s 5th largest economy by GDP serving a massive population of 1.37 billion which is approximately 17.56% of the 6.4 billion world population. The major policies and actions taken by the Narendra Modi government to tackle the population explosions are focused on promoting education, family planning, and social welfare schemes.
Population Regulation Bill, 2019
A major step taken to carry out the population control policies is the introduction of the Population Regulation Bill, 2019 which is expected to come into effect and be deemed as a law by 2021. The bill proposes to introduce a two-child policy per couple and aims to promote the adoption of this policy by introducing incentives for the public such as educational benefits, taxation cuts, home loans, free healthcare, and better employment opportunities. The bill also talks about introducing stricter imposition of the norm by penalizing couples not adhering to the two-child policy such as debarment from contesting in elections, revoking concessions, and ineligibility for government jobs. Provisions of the bill include measures for states to promote social and family norms by introducing the above-mentioned incentives to the population who keep their family limited to two children and to revoke exemptions and deprive such incentives to those not adhering to the small family norms, to keep the growing population under control. India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and the problem of population explosion is proving to be one of the biggest obstacles to economic growth and development in India today. Hence, the introduction of stringent measures from the government towards population control is the need of the hour.