Rising Population in India – Different Facets

Poonam Muttreja & Sonalde Desai – Does India Need a Population Policy – The Hindu

Data Points:

  • India would surpass China as the world’s most populous country by 2023. – United Nations
  • India’s demographic dividend will peak around 2041, when the share of the working age population is expected to hit 59%. – 2018-19 Economic Survey
  • 12% of India’s total population by 2025 is going to be the elderly. Every fifth Indian by 2050 will be over the age of 65.

Important Take Aways from the Article:

On Population growth & policy:

  • We need to move from a family planning approach to a family welfare approach. We should be focusing on empowering men and women in being able to make informed choices about their fertility, health and well-being.
  • It is not about whether the population is large or small; it is about whether it is healthy, skilled and productive.
  • We should focus not on fertility rate, but on creating a situation in which slow changes in the family size take place in the context of a growing economy.

On Automation:

  • Automation makes a big difference to the productivity of individuals, sometimes to the detriment of employment. But in any case, it really is an important contribution of the modern world. However, it doesn’t replace human nature and human touch.

On Demographic Dividend:

We have the capacity to tap into the potential of our youth population. We need to invest in adolescent well-being right away, if we want to reap the benefits. Otherwise, our demographic dividend could turn easily into a demographic disaster.

Declining Fertility and Gender Implications:

Fertility decline has tremendous gender implications. What it means is that women have lower burden on them. But it also has a flip side. Ageing is also a gender issue as two-thirds of the elderly are women, because women tend to live longer than men do. Unless we recognise the gender dimension , it will be very difficult for us to tap into these changes.

Next Steps – 1) we need to improve employment opportunities for young women; 2) increase the female employment rate; 3) Elderly women need economic and social support networks.

Fertility Rates and Political Economy:

India’s fertility fell below 2.1 births for certain States 10 years ago. In four other States, it’s just declining. So, not only is the fertility falling, the proportion of the population that will be living in various States is also changing. The future of India lies in the youth living in U.P., Bihar, M.P. If we don’t support these States in ensuring that their young people are well educated, poised to enter the labour market and have sufficient skills, they will become an economic liability.


“We are where we are, so let’s plan for the well-being of our population instead of hiding behind the excuse that we don’t have good schooling or health because there are too many people. That mindset is counterproductive.”

Categories: POINT IAS

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