The Bold Voice of J&K

Burgeoning population-a global challenge


Dr Banarsi Lal

A lot of steps are being taken across the globe to create awareness on the global population issues such as family planning, gender equality, maternal health, poverty and human rights. Every year, July 11 is observed as the World Population Day, which day was established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989.The day was suggested by Dr K C Zachariah when the population was reached to five billion. We observe the display of increasing population in every nook and corner of India. Government of India has launched various policies, schemes and programmes for population stabilization. It is estimated that the actual population stabilization can take place in 2050. The birth rate in India is still higher than the death rate. Illiteracy, early marriage, poverty and age old cultural norms are the major causes of overpopulation. The first World Population Day was commemorated in 1987 when the world’s population touched the five billion mark. In many developing countries fertility rate is declining but even then population growth continues at an alarming rate. In 1804, world population was 1 billion; it was 2 billion in 1927, 3 billion in 1960, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, 6 billion in 1999, and 7 billion in 2013 and is about 7.8 billion in 2022.China, India, United States, Indonesia and Brazil are the world’s five largest countries in terms of population. According to the UN world population grows at a rate of 1.2 per cent which makes a net addition of 77 million people every year. Six countries account for half of those annual increment-India tops the list with 21 per cent, followed by China 12 per cent, Pakistan 5 per cent, Bangladesh, Nigeria and the United States with 4 per cent each. Following reasons explain why population matters.2018 marks the 50th anniversary of a conference on family planning. In 1968, the International Conference on Human Rights was held. For the first time ever, family planning was affirmed to be a human right.
4Human beings are rapidly spoiling the earth’s atmosphere.
4Around 800 million people are malnourished in worldwide and this number can increase significantly.
4Lack of education in reproductive health is a factor in the recent upsurge of infectious diseases.
4Water scarcity stems in many parts of the world due to increase in human demand. Worldwide water tables are dropping down.
4Wild habitats that shelter endangered plants and animals are giving way to human activities and needs.
4Pollution is causing many respiratory diseases in human beings.
4Farming lands are suffering from soil erosion and desertification.
4 The competition for resources is increasing day-by day and the poor are getting poorer.
4By rapid population pressure migration pressures are aggravated.
4Civil conflict often emerges in societies where rapid population growth combines with environmental scarcity to undermine governments.
India was the first country in the world to launch a state sponsored population control programme in 1952. It was however met with much skepticism. After 1952, sharp declines in death rates were not accompanied by a similar drop in birth rates. India has built-in population momentum because of its young age structure-one fifth of India’s population is between 15-19 years of age. Different regions of the country with different demographic features required a different treatment was another reason of its failure. India’s population growth rate depends on how effectively the four Indian states i.e. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh implement the policies because these states constitute 40 per cent of the country’s population growth. Improved health services are mostly needed in these states. The fertility rate in these states is the highest and the women are the most disadvantaged. It has been revealed that in the coming 25 years, more than half of India’s demographic growth will be in these states because of poverty and illiteracy. It has been observed that it has taken more time for the message like family planning to reach in these large agricultural and predominantly rural population states. It has been studied that fertility reduction began in the coastal areas of South India and then proceeded to spread inland. This was an advantage that the South had compared to the North. The Southern states have done better in providing family planning services. Population control programme has not been able to make inroads into all the pockets of the North Indian states as a result of which India’s population has grown by gigantic proportions and in 2000 India touched 1 billion people mark i.e.16 per cent of the world’s population living on 2.4 per cent of the world’s land area. It is predicted that India may overtake China in 1925 if the current trend continues and earn the distinction of being not the most populous, but also the most illiterate country in the world. In this century the global population has increased threefold- while India’s population has increased five times in the same period. In 1911 India’s population was 252 million,342 million in 1947,361 in 1951,846 million in 1991 ,1 billion in 2000 and 1.27 billion in 2013.It can be mentioned that before independence India took 42 years to add 100 million. Since 1951 when the first census in India was conducted, about 600 million have been added to the population of India. The first 100 million was added in 12.5 years, the second 100 million in 9.3 years, the third 100 million in 6.4 years, the fifth and sixth 100 million in 5.8 years. It has been estimated that the population of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Orissa will increase by 15 to 19 per cent during 1998-2016, while it would increase over 40 per cent in the states of Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, the highest anticipated increase being in Uttar Pradesh with 55 per cent. According to estimate of Sample Registration System of the Office of Registrar General of India, the population of India is increasing at 15.5 million per year.15.5 million addition in existing population every year requires the opening of 66,000 new primary schools annually, creating 30 lakh new non-agricultural jobs every year and accommodating 50 lakh additional labourers in the agro-sector. No doubt, China has a different political system which can impose the one-child policy, but its success cannot entirely be attributed to the compulsion factor. China has certainly been able to educate its people on the importance of having a small family and has offered lucrative financial aid to small families. It reduced its infant mortality rate to 17 per 1000, in comparison to 50 per 1000 in India. It has achieved almost 100 per cent literacy thereby making its people to understand the benefits of small family.
In India much success of population control programmes have been achieved in Kerala where the literacy rate is the highest and where women enjoy better status as compared to other states. Rampant illiteracy among the majority of population has failed to push forward the message of family planning programmes in India. There is need to aware the rural masses on problems associated with large families and benefits of small families. A metamorphosis is needed in the attitude of people. In India, one child out of 13 dies without seeing the first birthday, 47 out of 1000 die within first month and 90 out of 1000 die before they are one year old. In China and Sri Lanka it is only 20-30 per cent. The National Population Commission was constituted on May11, 2000, the day when India crossed the one billion mark. The commission is optimistic that population of India would be stabilized by 2045.Even if the goal is achieved, how we will meet the basic needs of people? The population growth rate in India has slowed down by 1.4 per cent, but it is nearly three times that of China’s growth rate of 0.5 per cent. India is one of the most densely populated nations in the world. Its population density is 364 per square km. as per 2011 census which is much higher than many countries. The National Population Policy 2000 focuses on 12 strategic themes to achieve the 14socio-demographic goals .The immediate objective of the policy was to address the unmet needs of contraception, health care infrastructure and health personnel and to provide integrated service delivery for basic reproductive and child care. The long term objective is to achieve a stable population by 2045 at a level consistent with the requirements of sustainable economic growth, social development and environment protection. Higher rural population is migrating to towns and cities which overpopulate the urban centers resulting in growing number of slums and unavailability of housing, medical and sanitation facilities. It is estimated that world’s urban population would rise to 5 billion by 2030 which was around 3 billion in 2003.Tokyo, the world’s most populous city with 35 million was projected to still be the largest in 2015 with 36 million people followed by the Indian cities of Mumbai and Delhi. India should make population control a top priority because all the fruits of development are lost due to increase in population which lowers per capita needs of the people and reduces growth benefits per head. There is an urgent need for higher quality services in reproductive health and family planning together with supporting measures. Government alone cannot achieve these ambitious goals. People, NGOs, Panchayats and private sector participation is must.
(The writer is Head, KVK, Reasi SKUAST-J).

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