THE POPULATION PROBLEM
THE PROBLEM OF THE INCREASING NUMBERS ININDIA
THE PLANNER PROPOSES, POPULATION DISPOSES
“No country can be overpopulated if there is work for everyone”.
—–Jawahar Lal Nehru
Over-Population is one of the numerous problems facing India. It is a burning question of the day. It has been engaging the attention of the public and the press for a pretty long time. Much has been said and written about this problem of ever increasing numbers. During the last century, Malthus, a well-known economist; had stated in his famous essay on population that population increased at a much faster rate than food supply. Malthus seems to be quite true if we look at the conditions prevailing in our country to- day.
India occupies only 2.4 percent of the total land area of the world but the population of the country is 16 percent of the total global population. According to the 1991 census, the population of India had crossed the 882 million mark. What is more, it is still increasing at an alarming rate. It is rising at the rate of about one million heads every month. According to 2001 Census, the population of India crossed the 1000 million mark. This crossing of the billion mark has shaken the government and the people of India to the bones. Since 1947, the population of India has increased by 360 millions. This means we have added an entire population of the erstwhile USSR. Every year, the increase in India’s Population equals the population of Australia. The situation is just staggering. The production of food cannot keep pace with the alarming increase in numbers.
The causes of this problem are not very far to seek. Ours is a hot country. So we have a high birth rate. The boys and girls of our country grow and mature sexually at an early age. Early marriages are common even today, especially in the rural areas. Moreover, the birth of a baby is supposed to be the work of God. Illiteracy and ignorance are still rampant Bog families still carry prestige with them. So the birth rate is quite high. On the other hand, medical facilities have increased a lot since independence. It has led to decrease in the death-rate. The population is, therefore, increasing at a terrific speed. Last but not the least, there is a lack of the means of recreation for the masses. This and many other social factors are at work. They account for this serious problem facing the country.
The problem of ever increasing numbers must be solved on a top priority basis. Unless it is solved our Five Year Plans cannot raise our standard of living. No plan for employment can succeed in its absence. The food problem will remain as it is. So, for the future prosperity of the nation, every effort must be made to solve it.
A planned population control programme should be launched to check this phenomenal growth in population in our country. The first step, of course is the education of the people. Their whole mental outlook must be changed. They have to realize that it is a sin to have a large family. Besides this, an improvement in the economic condition of the people will also bring down the birth rate. Family planning schemes should be made popular. Attractive incentives should be given to those couples who come forward to plan their families. Those who refuse to all in line should be suitably penalized and discouraged. Medicines, operations and other devices, that help in checking the birth-rate should be made available to all. They should not be limited to cities only. They must reach the rural India.
With the crossing of the billion mark, the planners in the Government of India have once again started thinking of steps that can be taken of control population in the country. A suggestion has been made that the country should declare a two-year baby holiday. It has also been suggested that the one-child family norm should be adopted for with. Punitive measures are also being thought of to curb this population explosion. No hard decisions have so far been taken.
To sum up, population control is a crying need of the hour. It is a problem that concerns each citizen of our country. If we do not plan our families, we might perish one day.
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Figure 1. The jagged interval in the early death rate and the recent birth rate is intended to indicate that all the rates are subject to substantial annual variation. The birth rate in 1800 was about 35 per 1,000 population and the average number of children ever born to women reaching age 45 was about five. The death rate in 1800 averaged 25 to 30 per 1,000 population although, as indicated, it was subject to variation because of episodic plagues, epidemics, and crop failures. The average expectation of life at birth was 35 years or less. The current birth rate in western European countries is 14 to 20 per 1,000 population with an average of two to three children born to a woman by the end of childbearing. The death rate is 7 to 11 per 1,000 population per year, and the expectation of life at birth is about 70 years. The death rate declined, starting in the late 18th or early 19th century, partly because of better transport and communication, wider markets, and greater productivity, but more directly because of the development of sanitation and, later, modern medicine. These developments, part of the changes in the whole complex of modern civilization, involved scientific and technological advances in many areas, specifically in public health, medicine, agriculture, and industry. The immediate cause of the decline in the birth rate was the increased deliberate control of fertility within marriage. The only important exception to this statement relates to Ireland, where the decline in the birth rate was brought about by an increase of several years in the age at marriage combined with an increase of 10 to 15 per cent in the proportion of people remaining single. The average age at marriage rose to 28 and more than a fourth of Irish women remained unmarried at age 45. In other countries, however, such social changes have had either insignificant or favorable effects on the birth rate. In these countries—England, Wales, Scotland, Scandinavia, the Low Countries, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and France—the birth rate went down because of the practice of contraception among married couples. It is certain that there was no decline in the reproductive capacity; in fact, with improved health, the contrary is likely.
Only a minor fraction of the decline in western European fertility can be ascribed to the invention of modern techniques of contraception. In the first place, very substantial declines in some European countries antedated the invention and mass manufacture of contraceptive devices. Second, we know from surveys that as recently as just