Friday, February 3rd, 2023 08:51:46

Population Explosion – a Bane

By Manoj Dubey
Updated: December 31, 2022 2:18 pm

Six of the earth’s seven continents are permanently inhabited on a large scale. The population of planet earth was about one billion in 1800 AD which rose to four billion in 1974 and eight billion in 2022. This is a matter of concern knowing the fact that natural resources are limited.

Asia is the most populous continent with 4.6 billion people accounting for nearly 60% of the world’s population. The two most populated countries India and China together constitute nearly 36% of the world’s population. Africa is the second most populated continent with 17% of the world’s population having 1.34 billion people. Europe’s 750 million people make up 10% of the world’s population.

India is the second most populated country after China and is projected to surpass China in a few years. It is expected to become the first country to be home for 1.5 billion people by 2030 and by 2050, we will be 1.7 billion. However, the rate of growth is slowing down. We were 34 crores in 1947, 82 crores in 1987 and 140 crores in 2022. We have 79.8% Hindus, 14.3% Muslims, 2.3% Christians and 1.7% Sikhs. The median age is 28.4 years, which means half of the people are below this age.

India occupies nearly 2.5% of the world’s area and supports nearly 17% of the world’s people. It is seventh in area after Russia, China, USA, Canada, Brazil and Australia. We are 6th in renewable water resources after Brazil, Russia, USA, Canada and China. We are fourth largest agriculture producing country after China, USA and Brazil. Our huge population consumes the maximum produce and we also import certain items. Agriculture in India largely depends on monsoon, as a result the production of food grains fluctuates year after year. 86% of the farmers own less than two hectare of land and are known as small farmers. There are people in the villages without land and they become labourers. Their financially condition is very weak. They are supported by the central govt financially under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi (Rs 6000 per year). We also have MNREGA scheme to provide employment to rural poor people. It clearly shows that over population is the main reason for this poverty.

India has become the fifth largest economy of the world after USA, China, Japan and India. 70% people live in villages and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. The agriculture sector contributes about 18% to the GDP, which speaks  volumes for their plight. Whereas in USA only 1.5% of the population is in the agriculture sector. They are not only feeding their own people, but also export food grains. The reason is obvious; less people and more land.

The urban poor are either casual labourers or intermittently employed. They lack job security. The growing population without access to proper education and skills results in unemployment and hence poverty.

More people means an increased demand for food, water, housing, energy, healthcare, education, transportation etc. The consumption contributes to ecological degradation, increased conflicts and higher risk of disasters like pandemics. Also growing demand for jobs, lack of infrastructure, leading to poor living conditions and increase in pollution and waste.  In Delhi Municipal Corporation elections held recently, the main issues were (mountains of) garbage and polluted Yamuna River. Both the problems are directly linked to over population of the city.

At the time of independence, nearly one third of the land was covered with forests which has now come down to below one fifth. Deforestation, extinction of animal and plant species, change in water cycle and emission of green house gases in large quantities (leading to global warming) are some other negative effects of increased population. The excessive extraction of fossil fuel (oil, gas and coal), minerals and trees impact the earth negatively.

Population control bill 2019, which envisaged promoting small family norms of up to two children per eligible couple was introduced by Rakesh Sinha in Rajya Sabha. During the debate he said, “the assumption that a larger population means a demographic dividend is misleading” as it puts pressure on resources. He withdrew the bill after the intervention of the Health Minister Mansukh Mandviya, who informed the house that the govt has successfully used awareness and health campaign to reduce population growth rather than using force. The average annual growth of population is declining, but it is not sufficient.

PM Modi in his Independence Day speech stressed on the need to control population and cautioned that if left unaddressed this will bring new problems for generations to come.

Achieving sustainable population level helps people to live with dignity and the standard we all deserve.

Over population is the mother of all the problems in India and if not controlled, a large number people will continue to live in poverty as the resources are limited. It is therefore, suggested that in addition to spreading awareness, we must enact law in the parliament to control the population of the country before it becomes too late.

 

By Manoj Dubey
(The writer is Principal (Retd.), Delhi Public Schools)

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