The following article discusses The Hindu’s editorial “Numbers game: On the State of World Population Report 2023 and the India projection,” which examines the current state of India’s population based on the State of World Population Report 2023.
Important for Essay Writing Topic – India’s Demographic Potential
The progress of India has been significant, having evolved from a time where high fertility rates were crucial for species survival due to high mortality rates caused by diseases, accidents, and wars. However, with the advancement of medical science, life expectancy has risen while mortality rates have decreased.
According to the UN’s State of World Population Report 2023, India is predicted to become the world’s most populous country by mid-2023, with a population of around 1.428 billion people, surpassing China by approximately 3 million people. This demographic shift has significant implications for India’s economy, society, and environment, and population growth is no longer viewed as a disadvantage but rather as an advantage due to the demographic dividend.
To fully take advantage of this potential, India needs to create economic opportunities.
What is the Population Growth History of India?
- India’s population growth has been a concern in the past.
- In the socialist era, population growth was seen as a cause of poverty and led to sterilization programs.
- Globalization in the 1990s shifted the perception of population as an advantage.
- India currently has 17.5% of the world’s population.
- Between 1891 and 1921, the population growth rate was low due to calamities and epidemics.
- Since 1921, the population has been increasing at a rapid rate.
- Between 1951-1961, the population increased rapidly, and it is known as the ‘period of population explosion.’
- The decadal growth rate during 1981-91 showed definite signs of slowing down.
- India’s population growth is slowing, and the total fertility rate is below the replacement level of 2.1 for the first time according to the National Family Health Survey.
- UN estimates India’s population to reach 1.67 billion in 2050 before settling at 1.53 billion in 2100.
What about Demographic Transition?
India is in stage three of the demographic transition model, with some states/UTs already in stage four. Here are the four stages of the demographic transition and examples of countries in each stage:
- Characterized by high birth rates and high death rates due to preventable causesi. for example – Countries: South Sudan, Chad, Mali, etc.
- Death rates fall due to improved public health, but high fertility rates persist due to limited access to health and contraceptive services. For example – Countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bolivia, sub-Saharan countries such as Niger, Uganda, etc.
- Birth rates also fall, but the population continues to grow due to a large number of people in the reproductive age group. For example – Countries: Columbia, India, Jamaica, Botswana, Mexico, Kenya, South Africa, and the UAE
- Characterized by a stable population at a level higher than the initial, with low birth and death rates and high social and economic development. For example – Countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Brazil, most of Europe, Singapore, South Korea, and the U.S.
What are the Causes of the Declining Trend of Population?
- Population Growth Rate Decline
- TFR Decline and Replacement Level Fertility
- Improved Mortality Indicators
- Increase in Family Planning
- Impact of Climate Change and Migration
- Population debates in India have recently focused on the declining trend of population growth. At the all-India level, the percentage decadal growth rate of population has been decreasing since 1971-81. However, a significant fall in the case of Empowered Action Group states has been noted during the 2011 census. The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has also further declined from 2.2 to 2.0 at the national level, and only five states in India are above the replacement level fertility of 2.1. This subhead discusses the reasons behind the declining trend of population growth in India.
- Improved mortality indicators, including the recovery of life expectancy at birth from 32 years in 1947 to 70 years in 2019, have also contributed to the declining trend of population growth. According to NFHS 5, the Infant Mortality Rate stands at 32 per 1,000 live births, with an average of 36 deaths for rural and 23 for urban areas.
- An increase in family planning has also played a significant role in the declining trend of population growth in India. According to NFHS 5, the overall Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) has increased substantially from 54% to 67% at the all-India level and in almost all Phase-II states/UTs, except for Punjab.
- The impact of climate change and migration has also contributed to the declining trend of population growth in India. Past population debates did not account for the fact that many migrants are becoming permanent immigrants. Over 1.6 million Indians have renounced citizenship since 2011, including over 225,000 in 2022.
What is the Significance of Population Growth?
- The Benefits and Challenges of India’s Growing Population
India’s growing population has the potential to bring about better economic growth and improved standards of living, but it also poses several challenges that need to be addressed.
- The Positive Impact of India’s Growing Population on Economic Growth
India’s growing population can boost economic growth through increased economic activities, as there is a higher working age population and lower dependent population.
- The Impact of India’s Growing Population on Working Age Population
India’s working age population has grown from 50% to 65% in the last seven decades, resulting in a decline in the dependency ratio. One in five working-age group persons will be living in India in the next 25 years.
- Managing India’s Growing Population: Challenges and Risks
India’s growing population poses challenges such as the risk of war, internal conflicts, and rupture of the social fabric if not managed properly.
What are the Challenges Associated with Demographic Dividend?
- India’s Asymmetric Demography and Challenges Ahead
Concentration of working-age population in poor states
India’s demographic dividend is expected to be concentrated in some of its poorest states. However, it can be fully realized only if the country can provide gainful employment opportunities to this working-age population.
Lack of skills and low human development parameters
One of the major challenges that India faces is a lack of skills in its workforce, especially in highly skilled jobs that will be created in the future. The country ranks low in human development parameters, with health and education parameters needing substantial improvement to make the workforce efficient and skilled.
Informal nature of the economy
The informal nature of the Indian economy is another hurdle in reaping the benefits of demographic transition.
What Should be the Way Forward?
Steps to Create Economic Opportunities in India
- Boost Entrepreneurship
To fully benefit from the demographic dividend, India needs to support the growth of small and medium-sized businesses through tax incentives and financial assistance.
- Increase Investment
India needs to attract more foreign investment by improving the ease of doing business, reducing bureaucratic hurdles, and enhancing infrastructure.
- Promote Digital Transformation
To unlock new economic opportunities and create more efficient and productive businesses, India needs to invest in high-speed internet connectivity and digital infrastructure.
- Address Economic Inequality
India needs to increase access to quality education for all, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and ensure social protection for vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, disabled, and children.
- Focus on Economic Opportunity
Infrastructure development, foreign investment, and fostering innovation can be helpful for creating economic opportunity.