April 17, 2024

Syllabus- General Studies 1(Human geography)

Context

  • China has announced that it will allow couples to have up to three children, after census data showed a steep decline in birth rates.
  • China scrapped its decades-old one-child policy in 2016, replacing it with a two-child limit which has failed to lead to a sustained upsurge in births.

India, on the other hand, has been toying with the idea of population control measures through a two-child norm.

Lessons from China

  • This policy decision by China should serve as a warningto India that coercive population strategies can be counter-productive.
  • India can learn from China’s failed experience of enforcing coercive population policies.
  • Stringent population control measures in India can make the country land in the issues of an ageing population and very few people to take care of them.

Present Status

  • India has long been concerned about curbing population ‘explosion’, but needs to focus its attention on population stabilization instead.
  • India has done very well with its family planning measures and now we are at replacement level fertility of 2.1, which is desirable.
  • According to Population Council of India, we need to sustain population stabilisation because in some States like Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala and Karnataka the total fertility rate is way below replacement level, which means we will experience in 30-40 years what China is experiencing now.
  • In India, according to the UNFPA’s India Ageing Report 2017, the share of population over the age of 60 is projected to increase from 8% in 2015 to 19% in 2050.
    • By 2100, the elderly will constitute nearly 34% of the population.
    • The annual growth rate of the elderly will be over 3% till the middle of this century indicating faster pace of growth than other age categories. On the contrary, the growth rate of younger age group is already negative.

Way Forward

  • The proven ways to lower the fertility rate are sustained investments made in
    • Education
    • health and
    • job opportunities for women

Conclusion

With China’s fertility rates expected to drop in the coming years, demographers have predicted that India may overtake China as the most populous country by 2023 or 2024, but this should not be a cause for worry and be turned into an opportunity, by improving employability of its youth to improve productivity to fuel economic growth.

Question- Rather than being a liability, India’s huge population should be groomed as an invaluable asset. Comment.

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