Since independence in 1947, India has added more than 1 billion people to its population. Data released by the United Nations shows that the population of India will soon surpass that of China, becoming the most populous country in the world.
China and India make up 1.4 billion people each, yet China’s birth rate is plunging while India is overtaking at a fast pace. “Soaring living costs and the growing number of women joining the workforce are among other factors being blamed for the slowdown in China”, according to the BBC report.
But what does this mean for India?
India’s Impending Population Boom
India’s growing population presents both challenges and opportunities for the economy. On the one hand, a larger workforce can potentially drive economic growth and development. India’s working-age population is estimated to reach 1.03 billion people by 2030, giving the country a demographic advantage over aging economies like China. This ‘demographic dividend’ could be harnessed to boost productivity and economic output, provided there are sufficient job opportunities and appropriate skill development.
On the other hand, rapid population growth also puts immense pressure on natural resources, infrastructure, and public services. The increasing demand for housing, education, healthcare, and employment may outpace the government’s ability to provide adequate services and opportunities.
Although China’s population growth has stalled somewhat, environmentalists still see population numbers as a concern. In particular, the growing affluence of China’s middle class and their rapid adoption of Western-style consumer patterns. This too could be a concern for India as the population increases further.
There are also concerns regarding increased air and water pollution in India, deforestation, and climate change which are all exacerbated by the unprecedented growth in population size.
Can India Use Its Population Increase To Its Advantage?
To capitalize on the potential advantages of a growing population, it is crucial for the government and policymakers to implement strategic measures for sustainable development.
If India wants to take control of its future, it must invest in the education of its people, invest in healthcare, and create more job opportunities.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as reported on India Today, conveyed concerns about the growing population in his Independence Day speech back in 2015 when he said “The issue of ever-rising population is a matter of concern and said that a small section of society, which keeps their families small, deserves respect. What they are doing is an act of patriotism.”
However, the United Nation report attempts to reduce concern and anxiety over the rising numbers in India.
“Instead, they should be seen as a symbol of progress, development, and aspirations if individual rights and choices are being upheld,” the UN report says.
Ultimately, only time will tell how well the country will manage its rising population.
Will India continue to flourish by providing ample opportunities for its citizens and taking environmental concerns into account, or will the nation struggle as it continues to grow?
What do you think? Have your say in the comments and let us know your thoughts.