Population Problem – Its Control in India
To let continue an unchecked growth of population is the most important problem before India. All our major ailments are related to this problem and quite a disaster awaits the country if this problem is not tackled effectively and urgently. Poverty is a problem in the country that we keep constantly lamenting about. But, surprisingly and woefully, we fail. to understand that the problem of poverty is man-made-the more the population, the more the poverty.
We have not been able to educate our poor class that more children are not an asset, they are a liability For the present the poorer class thinks that every child born to them would in due course, be an earning member-an asset; while they fail to understand or we have failed them to understand that every new child would need more to eat, more to be fed, more space to live.
There is an unchecked migration from villages to towns-the town life apparently appears to them so alluring but coming to the towns means living in the insanities conditions with no place to rest their heads, so much dearth of space, of drinking water, dearth of basic amenities. Slums grow under most unhygienic surroundings. Jobs are few, job-seekers arc more and this leads to their taking to petty crimes to begin with and they turn into ‘goons’ gradually.
India has crossed the 1 billion mark in population. China had a larger population than India; they have a larger land are still have controlled their population through stringent measures. The only problem with us is that we are a democratic country where every voter has to be kept in good humour. `Family Planning’ and ‘Family Welfare’ programmes remain a mere euphemistic terminology. No Government policy whether at the Central or the State level has come out with a daring and positive pronouncement that families with one or at most two children shall be given benefits or preferences in jobs or initiatives in business. Then there are difficulties in implementing the family-planning programmes among Muslims. Their social-religious ethos militates against adopting contraceptives. And none dare touch them on this issue.
There is a National Population Policy in force in India, which is very often referred to. But the will to implement its provisions is not there with the government. The political leaders even with eleven or more children live a lavish lifestyle; they have not known the pang of poverty or deprivation; hence they have no incentive or zest to implement the programme. And it is they who have to do it. It is they who, in a democratic set up has to lead and carry the torch.
The masses still remain uncommitted to the concept of a small family. The MLA and the MPs should be made accountable if the ‘family planning’ programme is not found catching up in their constituency. P. U., M.P., Rajasthan and Bihar are the sorts of states where women remain illiterate and the illiteracy of womanhood is a great bane in the proper and effective implementation of this programme. Kerala has shown the way which other states need to emulate and follow
Let us look into the figures below and assess for ourselves the growing magnitude of the problem — The population of India as of March 1, 2001, stood more than 1000 million. The second populous country, India is home to 16% of the world’s total population. This is against an area of 2.42% of the total world area.
Thus in most states, the growth rate declined during the 1911 to 1921 decade. However, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Tripura, West Bengal, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep, and Pondicherry, which account for one-third of the country’s population, recorded an increase in growth rate.
Nagaland registered the highest growth rate of 56.08% while Kerala the lowest 14.32%. Mumbai metropolis continued to be the most populated city of the country with an urban population of 12.60 million, Kolkata taking second place with 11.02 million. Delhi ranked third with a population (urban) of 8.42 million, followed by Chennai 5.42 million.
One of the important indices of population concentration is the density of population. It is defined as the number of persons per square kilometre. The population density has gone up from 216 in 1981 to 295 persons in 2001. The 10 heavily populated districts of the country are Kolkata, Chennai, Greater Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Chandigarh, Mahe, Howrah, Kanpur City and Bangalore. All of them have a density of 2,000 persons per square kilometre and above, and 5.1% of the country’s population lives in these districts. The average density of these districts is 6,888.
Sex Ratio is defined as the number of females per 1,000 males. In India, it has generally been averse to women. The ratio has also declined over the years except in 1981 when it slightly improved to 934 from 927. In 2001, there has been a fall by 7 points to 927 per thousand males. But Kerala represented a different spectrum. The state has a higher number of females than males, 1,036 females for a thousand miles.
In the Indian context, a sex ratio of 950 can be considered favourable to females. In some states and union territories, the ratio is as follows: Himachal Pradesh (976), Andhra Pradesh (972), Goa (967), Karnataka (960), Manipur (958) Orissa (971), Tamil Nadu (974), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (952), and Pondicherry (979), Chandigarh (790). Chandigarh had the lowest sex ratio, For the purpose of the Census, a person is deemed to be literate if he or she can read or write any language with understanding. In the 2001 Census, the question on literacy was canvassed only for population aged seven years and above, unlike earlier censuses, which took into account a population of five years or above.
The final results reveal that there has been an increase in literacy in the country. The rate in 2001 was 52.21 per cent for males and 39.29 for females. Kerala retained its position by being on top with a 39.8L per cent literacy rate in the country. Bihar stood at the bottom, with a literacy rate of 38.48 per cent, with Rajasthan being close to it having a 38.55 literacy percentage. But literacy among the women was the lowest in Rajasthan with a percentage of 20.44 as compared to 54.99 among the males. The above figures of the population in India highlight the deep concern posed by the rapid multiplication of human numbers in a country like India which is still struggling for self-sufficiency in basic necessities of life. As long as the relationship between the growing population and natural resources remains as hopelessly unfavourable as it is in the developing countries of Asia, as Huxley puts it, it would be impossible for democracy to take root and develop.
To a great extent, the degree of a nation’s peoples’ living standards and of increasing national power is determined by the relationship between the growth rate of the economy and the growth rate of the population.
It is the problem of the increasing number of mouths to be fed and clothed that alarms people in all parts of the world. Economists are baffled, sociologists are scared, and politicians and administrators are worried. It has created various problems like unemployment, poverty, half-starvation and illiteracy, besides shelter. And unfortunately, those living in the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, are continuing to get more than their share of problems because of their ever-increasing population.
India, a developing country, comes second to China in the world in the figures of population. Although the world is forty times as large as India in area, the world population is less than seven times as large as India’s. One out of every seven persons is an Indian. Obviously, India, like other developing countries, is feeling great pressure on the population.
The population of India has increased from 236.5 million in 1901 to about 1,000 million today. More than about 6,500 babies are born every day. To some extent, the main cause of our extraordinary growth is not excessive births, but our victory against death and disease. Our ability to control communicable diseases like malaria, smallpox and cholera and ushering in improving health services have steadily brought down the death rate from 27 per 1,000 in 1951 to just 15 days, while the birth rate has remained about the same.
Life expectancy at birth has risen from 32 years in 1950 to 60 today. Thus our number is multiplying every day. As a result, there are 21 million births a year and about 8 million deaths, giving an annual excess of about 13-14 niillions in our already huge population.
The result of our increasing numbers is obvious — much of our effort to, raise the standard of living of our people through successive five years plans have been nullified. The growth of the population, besides neutralising all developmental efforts, brings distress to the community, to the family and to the individuals. As one of our great economists has said: “To plan when population growth is unchecked is like building a house where the ground is in flood.”
What then needs to be done? The remedy is to reduce the number of births. In order to stabilise the relationship between population and the basic necessities of life, we must bring the Qur birth rate down from 41 per thousand to 25 per thousand as quickly as possible. The family planning programmable was begun in a modest way in 1951.
The importance which the Government of India has attached to birth control is quite evident from the fact that about Rs. 50 crore — half of the outlay on health in each annual plan is set apart for family planning. A Department of Family Planning (now family welfare) functions in. the Union Ministry of Health. The Government has accorded top priority to the programme of birth control and is making all-out efforts to reduce the birth rate to 25 per 1,000 as early as possible.
Population growth is a stimulant to economic growth up to a point, but afterwards, as we are witnessing in India, it becomes a serious impediment. A larger population provides abundant labour as well as a big market for consumption. But the alarming rate of increase in the population produces an occasional crisis in the food situation, necessitating the import of foodgrains, involving a large amount of foreign exchange which could otherwise be made available for faster economic growth. Although food production has increased- to some extent, it is not enough to feed the newly arriving excess population.
A high birth rate increases the number of children, making a higher proportion of the dependent population unproductive. The number of unproductive consumers is presently put at 400 million. Another consequence of vast growth in population is that it reduces the capacity to save and invest in the national economy. In any developing country, capital formation is crucial to economic growth but in India, most of the resources are used up in supporting the unproductive population, so that the problem of poverty gets no solution.
Investments for such important projects as highways, railroads, communication system, electrical power and generation, irrigation pumps etc. are not available to the extent desired. Unless the birth rate gets reduced in the country, it is impossible to affect any savings to increase capital formation.
It seems all voluntary methods of birth control have failed to yield any tangible results. What should be taken to resort to is for the Government of India to take a decision to officially declare to limit the family size on the principle of the one-family one-child norm. This population control policy has greatly succeeded in China. There is no reason why such a policy should not be framed in India without any further delay?