In demographics, the world population is the total number of humans currently living. The World is facing major challenge of rapid increase in human population since last many decades, (UNFPA, 2011). The world population was estimated to have reached 7.5 billion in April 2017. In various parts of globe, there is unparalleled rapid demographic change and the most noticeable example of this change is the vast expansion of human.
It is expected that in near future, it will increase rapidly and give birth to numerous issues in the least developed regions. It is recommended that there is a desperate need to take urgent steps to control population otherwise serious problems can arise such as environment damage and restricted availability of food resources.
Constant growth of population is a major issue and therefore it is significant to understand how policy makers can manage population growth for the benefit of society.
Increase in population in India:
Causes of Over Population:
The two main common causes leading to over population in India are:
- The birth rate is still higher than the death rate. We have been successful in declining the death rates but the same cannot be said for birth rates.
- The fertility rate due to the population policies and other measures has been falling but even then it is much higher compared to other countries.
The above two causes are interrelated to the various social issues in our country which are leading to over population.
- Early Marriage and Universal Marriage System: Even though the marriageable age of a girl is legally 18 years, the concept of early marriage still prevails. Getting married at a young age prolongs the child bearing age. Also, in India, marriage is a sacred obligation and a universal practice, where almost every woman is married at the reproductive age.
- Poverty and Illiteracy: Another factor for the rapid growth of population is poverty. Impoverished families have this notion that more the number of members in the family, more will be the numbers to earn income. Some feel that more children are needed to look after them in their old age. Also hunger can be cause of death of their children and hence the need for more children. Strange but true, Indian still lags behind the use of contraceptives and birth control methods. Many of them are not willing to discuss or are totally unaware about them. Illiteracy is thus another cause of over population.
- Age old cultural norm: Sons are the bread earners of the families in India. This age old thought puts considerable pressure on the parents to produce children till a male child is born.
- Illegal migration: Last but not the least, we cannot ignore the fact that illegal migration is continuously taking place from Bangladesh and Nepal is leading to increased population density.
Effects of Over Population:
Even after 67 years of independence, the scenario of our country is not good, due to over population. Some major impacts of high population are as follows:
- Unemployment: Generating employment for a huge population in a country like India is very difficult. The number of illiterate persons increases every year. Unemployment rate is thus showing an increasing trend.
- Manpower utilisation: The number of jobless people is on the rise in India due to economic depression and slow business development and expansion activities.
- Pressure on infrastructure: Development of infrastructural facilities is unfortunately not keeping pace with the growth of population. The result is lack of transportation, communication, housing, education, healthcare etc. There has been an increase in the number of slums, overcrowded houses, traffic congestion etc.
- Resource utilisation: Land areas, water resources, forests are over exploited. There is also scarcity of resources.
- Decreased production and increased costs: Food production and distribution have not been able to catch up with the increasing population and hence the costs of production have increased. Inflation is the major consequence of over population.
- Inequitable income distribution: In the face of an increasing population, an unequal distribution of income and inequalities within the country widen.
Steps to Control Population in India
Increasing the welfare and status of women and girls, spread of education, increasing awareness for the use of contraceptives and family planning methods, sex education, encouraging male sterilisation and spacing births, free distribution of contraceptives and condoms among the poor, encouraging female empowerment, more health care centres for the poor, to name a few, can play a major role in controlling population.
India’s strengths in the global world in various fields cannot be ignored, whether in science & technology, medicine and health care, business and industry, military, communication, entertainment, literature and many more. Experts are hopeful that by increasing public awareness and enlisting strict population control norms by the Government will definitely lead the way for the country’s economic prosperity and control of population.
- Social Measure: Population outburst is considered to be a social problem and it is intensely rooted in the civilization. It is therefore necessary to make efforts to eliminate the social iniquities in the country. Minimum age of Marriage: As fertility depends on the age of marriage therefore the minimum age of marriage should be raised. In India minimum age for marriage is 21 years for men and 18 years for women fixed by law. This law should be strongly implemented and people should also be made aware of this through promotion.
- Raising the Status of Women: There are prevalent biases to women. They are restricted to house. They are still confined to rearing and bearing of children. So women should be given opportunities to develop socially and economically. Free education should be given to them.
- Spread education: The spread of education changes the views of people. The educated men take mature decisions and prefer to delay marriage and adopt small family custom. Educated women are health mindful and avoid frequent pregnancies and thus help in lowering birth rate.
- Adoption: is also effective way to curb population. Some parents do not have any child, despite expensive medical treatment. It is recommended that they should adopt orphan children. It will be helpful to orphan children and children to couples.
- Social Security: is necessary for people. It is responsibility of government to include more and more people under-social security schemes. So that they do not depend upon others in the event of old age, sickness, unemployment with these facilities they will have no desire for more children.
- Economic Measures: There has to be numerous economic measures taken as a preventive measure for population explosion. Government must devise policies for more employment opportunities. It is necessary is to raise the employment opportunities in rural as well as urban areas. Generally in rural areas there is disguised joblessness. Another economic measure for population control is the development of Agriculture and Industry. If agriculture and industry are correctly developed, huge number of people will get employment. When their income is increased they would enhance their standard of living and accept small family norms. Good standard of living is a deterrent to large family norm. In order to maintain their enhanced standard of living, people prefer to have a small family.
- Urbanisation: process can reduce population increase. It is reported that people in urban areas have low birth rate than those living in rural areas. Urbanisation should be encouraged.
- There is a need to follow strict birth control measures such as China has adopted the strategy to decrease the birth rate. But it is not possible to reduce technological advancements to decrease the death rate in India. In order to reduce the birth rate, several government-funded agencies like the Family Planning Association of India spend excessive funds to promote on family planning as a basic human right and the norm of a two-child family on a voluntary basis.
- It is done to achieve a balance between the population size and resources, to get ready young people for responsible attitudes in human sexuality, and to provide education and services to all. The family planning methods provided by the family planning program are vasectomy, tubectomy, IUD, conventional contraceptives (that is condoms, diaphragms, jelly/cream tubes, foam tables) and oral pills.
- Additionally, induced abortion is available, free of charge, in institutions recognized by the government to control population increase. However, the success of the family planning program in India depends on many factors such as literacy, religion and the region where the people live.
Population policy followed in India since Independence
After independence, a Population Policy Committee was created in 1952 which suggested for the appointment of a Family Planning Research and Programmes Committee in 1953.
A Central Family Planning Board was created in 1956 which emphasized sterilization. Up till 1960s a rigid policy was not adopted to arrest the fast growth of population. The policy framed in 1951-52 was ad hoc in nature, flexible, and based on a trial and error approach.
When the First Five-Year Plan was formulated, it was enumerated in the plan that the programme for family limitation and population control should:
(a) present an accurate picture of the factors contributing to the rapid increase of population;
(b) discover suitable techniques of family planning and devise methods by which knowledge of these techniques could be widely disseminated; and
(c) give advice on family planning as an integral part of the service of government hospitals and public agencies.
Until the Fifth Plan, family planning programme concerned itself primarily with birth control but in this plan ‘maternal and child health and nutrition services’ were also included as an integral part of family planning programme. Despite all the Five-Year Plans (from First to Tenth) and policies, the population of India is growing at a faster pace and taking the shape of ‘population explosion’.
The striking growth rate of population compelled the government to adopt a relatively more clear and less flexible policy of population which can stabilize the growth rate. In 1961-71, the population growth rate was 2.25% which was highest in any decade after independence. At present (2001-2011), the population growth rate has declined to 1.50%.
In April 1976, the First National Population Policy was framed by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Planning which suggested a wide spectrum of programmes including raising the statutory age of marriage, introducing monetary incentives, paying special attention to improving female literacy, etc.
Though this policy was endorsed by the parliament, it was planned at a time when the Emergency was clamped all over India. Sanjay Gandhi, the then President of Indian Youth Congress, took the programme of sterilization overzealously which made the masses hostile towards the government led by Indira Gandhi as well as the programme. One of the reasons for this was said to be the excesses committed in the programme.
There was an overall resentment among the people (as a result of which the Congress was voted out of power in elections held in March 1977). This incident defeated the whole purpose of the family planning programme. The enthusiasm of the people about birth control was also to some extent slackened. The later governments became extremely cautious about the implementation of programmes of family planning.
The term ‘family planning’ was replaced by ‘family welfare’. While delivering a talk on ‘Indian Population in the 1990s,’ on February 8, 1991, the noted demographer Ashish Bose said that ‘family planning programme has completely failed in the country and entirely a new approach is needed for its success’.
The progress to arrest population growth has been extremely slow as is evident when we compare it with China. Through vigorous family planning programme since 1970 and a more rigid policy of having only one child per family in 1980, China has avoided the birth of more than 200 million children and brought the fertility rate down to 2.5 from 5.82 among eligible mothers. This is a classic example of the role of government policy in affecting birth rate.
To check the alarming population growth, an attempt has been made to rejuvenate the National Family Welfare Programme. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare revised the strategy in the last decade of the 20th century seeking to broaden the area of family planning.
It was emphasized that the population control programme would continue purely on voluntary basis as an integral part of a comprehensive policy package covering education, health, maternity and childcare, and women’s rights and nutrition, including anti-poverty programme. It was made people’s programme based on welfare approach.
This revised strategy particularly focused on the provision of family planning strives at the doorsteps of the people. It is with this objective that the age of marriage is proposed to be raised for women from 18 to 20 years as envisaged in National Population Policy document, 2000, discussed later on.
For raising the status of women, much emphasis on female education is also being given. Efforts are also being made to involve the voluntary organizations to promote family planning. As a part of family welfare and population control, the government has revised the PNDT Act in 2003, which was enacted in 1994. The main aim of the Act is to check female (embryo) infanticide.
The 1990s, however, witnessed a marked shift in the approach of family planning programme in the country. The early years of the decade had seen intensification of women’s movement, both within and outside the country, in reaction to the overwhelming responsibilities imposed on women in family planning programme for achieving fertility reduction.
The proponents of the movement were very critical of the approach and regarded the prevalent methods of birth control as an infringement on women’s fundamental rights. It was against this background that an expert group under the chairmanship of Dr. M.S. Swaminathan was appointed in August 1993 to prepare a draft on new population policy.
The New Population Policy:
Government of India introduced first National Population Policy in 1976, which focussed on reducing birth rate, lowering infant mortality rate and improving standard of life. The policy was revised in 1977 which focussed on:
- No coercion for family planning
- Minimum marriage age 18 years for females and 21 years for males.
- Emphasis on awareness through education and media
- Mandatory registration of marriages
- Use of media for spreading the awareness about family planning among the rural masses.
- Monetary compensation to those who opt for permanent measures of birth control (sterilisation and tubectomy).
The National Population Policy 2000 provided a comprehensive framework to provide the reproductive and health needs of the people of India for the next ten years. It has fixed short term, medium term and long term goals as follows:
- Short term goal: Addressing the unfulfilled needs of contraception and health care infrastructure. Provision of integrated service for basic reproductive and child health care.
- Medium term goal: Bring down the Total Fertility rate.
- Long term goal: To achieve a stable population by 2045.
The government implemented the policy with involvement of local level bodies and voluntary sector with funds from central government.
Critical Assessment of India’s Population Policy
India’s national population policies have failed to achieve their objectives as we remain world’s second largest populated country. The population of India in 1951 was 35 crore, but by 2011, it had increased to 121 crore. There have been few shortcomings.
- Firstly, the NPP have a narrow perspective, give much importance to contraception and sterilisation. The basic prerequisite of controlling population include poverty alleviation, improving the standards of living and the spread of education.
- Secondly, on national scale the policy was not publicised and failed to generate mass support in favour of population control.
- Thirdly, we have insufficient infrastructure owing to the lack of trained staff, lack of adequate aptitude among the staff and limited use or misuse of the equipment for population control resulted in failure of the policy.
- Lastly, the use of coercion during the Emergency (1976-77) caused a serious resentment among the masses. This made the very NPP itself very unpopular.
To summarize, population escalation is a major issue around the world which has adverse impact on numerous environmental and human health problems. Population growth continue to increase in the world at a fast pace. As the population enlarges, many experts are concerned about its dangerous results.
The growth rate of population is a function of migration, birth rate and death rate in a country. The change in population caused by net migration as a proportion of total population of the country is almost insignificant and, therefore, can be easily ignored. That leaves us with birth rate and death rate.
The difference between the birth rate and the death rate measures the growth rate of population. Over populated regions need more resources. Population explosion causes deforestation for food production, urban overcrowding and the spread of horrible diseases.
The effectual way to stop population growth is to implement family planning policies but the exact way to achieve that has created a great deal of disagreement. Several feasible solutions have been proposed by the government to curb population.