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Population Control

Both India and China may become 1.46 billion population countries in the next five years.

Should India stop worrying about population control?

The assumption implied in the above question can prove ludicrous. The premise of which has stemmed from the argument that India doesn’t need to adopt any coercive population control model as the country is close to achieving the desired results with various voluntary birth control measures in place.

‘China model of coercive family planning not apt for India’

There is no denying that China model of coercive family planning has failed to pay off and remains out of bounds for a democratic country like India. Recently, the central govt has made its stand clear. In response to a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking a population control based on the China model to eliminate poverty and check criminal activity, the govt asserted that coercion has not only proved counter-productive but also led to demographic distortion. The petition was filed in the court by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

‘India close to achieving desired total fertility rate’

In its affidavit to the court on the matter, the centre referred to some interesting data claiming that the voluntary birth control means have paid dividends in the country. The health and family welfare ministry said that India is expecting to achieve a total fertility rate (TFR) of 2.1 by 2025, which is close to the desired fertility rate of 1.8. TFR is the average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime, and the current average indicates that Indian couples opt for not more than two children.

The ministry pointed in the court at a constant slide in the TFR from 3.2 in 2000 to 2.2 in 2018. Citing 2001-2011 Census, it also highlighted the sharpest decline in the decadal growth rate in the last 100 years, from 21.5% in 1991-2000 to 17.6% in 2001-11. So, the govt’s affidavit broadly hinted at – heaving a sigh of relief – the fall in India’s population growth rate and ‘effective’ population control measures.

Decline in TFR = no need for population control?

But the question remains if that is enough? Will decline in TFR put an end to India’s population worries? Alas!

According to the final report of the technical group on population projections, despite the slide in total fertility rate, the population of India is expected to reach 1.52 billion by 2036, as a result, the density of people will increase from 368 per square kilometre (in 2011) to 462.

India-China population control comparison

Unsurprisingly, India is poised to outnumber China in population. According to the ‘Our World In Data’ report, both India and China may become 1.46 billion population countries in the next five years. Following which, while the Chinese population may go down, the Indian population is expected to reach 1.65 billion by 2053, before witnessing the actual decline, but staying atop the global list for years.

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Ironically, looking back, in 1800, India’s population was just 169 million while China was almost double in number with 322 million people. China enforced strict ‘one-child policy’ in 1979, around two-and-a-half decades after the country recorded exponential spurt in population. Over the years, the decision adversely affected the Chinese demography, disturbing the balance of the percentage of youth and elderly people, forcing the govt to adopt ‘two-child policy’ in 2015. But the damage was done. With the fastest ageing population in the world, over one-third of Chinese citizens will be above age 60 by 2050.

In India, meanwhile, the population doubled to 1.2 billion in just 35 years period between 1975 and 2010. However, it is among the countries with the largest proportion of youths in the world. India has more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35.