“The nation needs to find ways to contain growth of population without use of coercion.” Examine the statement in the light of UN’s World population prospects 2019 report. (250 words)

Mentors Comment:
The answer must discuss the findings of the report and explain the challenges and opportunities India has in the coming future.
The answer must have the following discussions:
First discuss the key findings of the report.
Then move on to discuss in what way India’s growing population poses more challenges than opportunities.
Provide for an analysis of the consequences of growing population in different scenarios – rural regions, urban regions, men – women, different communities of the society etc.


World Population Prospects 2019 has been released by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The key message from the UN’s World Population Prospects 2019 report is that national leaders must redouble their efforts to raise education, health and living standards for people everywhere.

Population explosion is the sudden increase in the numbers of individuals in a community. Lately we have been facing population explosion in many countries of the world. In the past 200-300 years, the world’s population has increased tremendously. It is predicted that human population will increase by 1 billion in the next decade. Population explosion results mainly due to difference between birth rates and death rates.

Key findings for India:
India will overtake China as the most populous country by around 2027.
India is also expected to add 273 million people by 2050 and will remain the most populated until the end of the century.
India leads the set of nine countries that will make up for more than half the projected growth of the global population by 2050.
Top five: India is expected to remain the world’s most populous country with nearly 1.5 billion inhabitants, followed by China at 1.1 billion, Nigeria with 733 million, the United States with 434 million, and Pakistan with an estimated population of 403 million.

Measures taken in India to curb Population Explosion:
Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-1979): In the fifth five year plan, ‘maternal and child health and nutrition services’ were included as a part of the population control program.
National Population Policy 1976 and 1977: In 1976, the government of India came up with its first National Population policy. The policy came up with a number of measures to arrest the population growth. Some of the measures are:
Increasing the minimum legal age of marriage for girls and boys to 18 and 21 respectively.
Monetary incentives for birth control.
Improving the literacy levels of females both through the formal and non-formal channels.
Popularise family welfare programmes by using all forms of media.
Inculcating population education into the formal education system

National Population Policy, 2000 (NPP-2000): In February 2000, the government of India came up with the second National Policy on Population. For the first time since independence, this document comprehensively addressed the problem of population growth in integration with issues such as child survival, maternal health, women empowerment and contraception. The immediate objective of the policy is to offer service delivery in integrated approach to improve reproductive health and child care. The mid-term objective of the policy was to maintain a total fertility rate (TFR) as 2.1 children per women as it was considered as the replacement level. The long term objective of the policy is to achieve population stabilization by the year 2045.

Challenges posed by Population Explosion:
TFR varies significantly across the socio-economic groups, it is concentrated among economically weaker section of the society which has implications on our SDGs, poverty, hunger, malnutrition, health, education etc.
Jobs are not created at the rate it should be and growth is uneven.
We have short window of opportunity, it is important to nurture and exploit this population growth to the best economic advantages is a challenge.
Challenge is how we raise India’s economic status from being low middle country to atleast high middle income.
Share of older people is rising rapidly, growth for older people is 70% from now to 2050 but total population is growing only by 56%.
The aspiration of the women and families have changed with time, they now want fewer children but lack access to family planning. This is evident from one report which says that there is 13% unwanted fertility in India.
Real challenge is quality of life, 21% of 60 plus population is suffering from chronic morbidities.
Unequal rate of population growth among states.

Way Forward:
It is very necessary to create growth momentum, investment should be adequately made in key infrastructure areas, social infrastructure and that to particularly education, water, and health.
Family planning is a preventive measure in bringing down maternal and child mortality rate.
China and Japan have controlled their population by various measures, the same can be adopted by us according to our suitability.
Proper healthcare facilities to women, education to girl child.
It is imperative that policy-makers deal with the situation on multiple fronts.
Universal education, value-added skills accretion and massive growth in employment in the formal sectors should be the key focus areas.
Making agriculture remunerative and keeping food prices stable are crucial to ensure nutrition for all.

India is set to become the most populous nation. Analysts believe that India’s growing population can be a double-edged sword and the country needs to put in place the right policies to maximize the potential of its people by enhancing the state of education, health and infrastructure, so that India figures at better in various human development rankings.

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