India is the seventh largest country in the world. It covers an area of 32, 87,263 sq. km. Though India has only 2.4 per cent of the world’s land, it has to support 16.7 per cent of the world’s population. India is thus an overpopulated country. Its population is growing at an alarming rate. According to the 2001 census, India’s total population was 102.8 crore as compared to 84.39 crore in 1991, showing an increase of 21.54 per cent. The percentage increase of India’s population was only 13.31 per cent in 1941-51,21.64 per cent in 1951-61,24.80 per cent in 1961 -71,24.66 per cent in 1971 -81 and 23.87 per cent in 1981 -91,21.54 per cent in 1991-2001.
India is predicted to overtake China as the most populous nation in the world by 2050 A.D. This is the assessment of the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington-based, private, non-profit demographic institute. The fact is that while China has reduced its population growth by enforcing the one-child norm, India’s voluntary family planning programme is based on the two children norm.
India became independent from British rule on 15th August, 1947. Since 1951 our country has already completed nine Five-Year Plans. The country has become self-sufficient in foodgrains. India is one of the ten industrially advanced countries of the world. The per capita income for 2007-08, put out by the Central Statistical Organisation peg per capita income for tha.t year at Rs 33,283 in current prices.
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In 2000-01, per capita income was only Rs 16,688. In spite of this progress, almost one-fourth people of India’s population live below the poverty line. Whatever progress has been made by us since Independence under our Five-Year Plans, has been eaten up by the unabated growth in population.
According to the Planning Commission deputy chairman, India could become the third largest economy of the world much earlier (2020) than the Goldman Asch’s estimation of2040. Population explosion in India is attributable to a number of factors. Nearly 72.22 per cent of India’s population lives in the rural areas. About 34.62 per cent of our population is illiterate. Illiterate people especially those living in rural areas are ignorant and superstitious.
They believe that their present economic and social conditions are due to their fate. They also believe that if God blesses them with children, he will also make provision for them. In any case, villagers welcome children in the hope that when these children grow up they will help them in their old age in agricultural operations.
In rural areas, 60 million rural households do not have electricity. The villagers have hardly any other source of entertainment except indulgence sex. Certain communities have religious beliefs which are opposed to fame planning. Indians have a strong desire to have a male child. They think to without a son not only will the family lineage come to an end, they will also be able to achieve salvation. Sometimes, couples go on having a daughter after year in the hope of having a son.
Family planning as an official programme was adopted in India in 1952b it was only after 1975, that it was given the importance it deserved. The last decades while the crude birth rate declined from 33.9 per thousand persons 1981 to 23.5 per thousand persons in 2006, the crude death rate also decline from 12.5 per thousand persons in 1981 to 7.5 per thousand persons in 2006.’
An increasing difference between birth rate and death rate has created scene of population explosion in India. This problem in India is not the result declining death rate alone, which is actually an indicator of social developmen but a simultaneous effort for reducing birth rate should have been made where we totally failed. The death rate in India is continuously falling due to the decline in infant mortality. The infant mortality rate which stood 146 per thousand of new births in 1991 has come down to 57 in 2006. Improved medical and health service and gradual increase in literacy rates are the other reason responsible for decline in death rate.
India’s annual population growth is expected to gradually decelerate from 1.6 per cent in 2006 to 0.9 per cent in 2026, according to the Economic Survey 2006-07. I. I billion current population is estimated to have gone up from the Census 2001 figure of 1.02 billion. 1.4 billion Is the projected population of India by 2026?
As a matter of fact, India is adding to itself every year a population equal to that of Australia. This increasing population is a big drain on the scarce resources of the country. Growth in population retards the economic progress] of the-country.
A time has come when a comprehensive scheme of incentives and disincentives should be worked out so that those who do not care for family planning are not able to reap the benefits of progress and development. The Government should also make family welfare a part of school curriculum.
The importance of family planning in our country cannot be overemphasized. There can be no two opinions that if our nation has to become strong and prosperous, the growth in population will have on be brought within reasonable limits. This is perhaps the only way to remove poverty and improve the standard of living of the people of our country.