Moving policy away from population control
What are the concerns:
- The United Nations’ World Population Prospects (WPP), 2022, has forecasted that India will become the most populous country by 2023, surpassing China.
- Even though India has entered the third stage of the demographic transition, and is experiencing a slowing growth rate due to constant low mortality and rapidly declining fertility, the Indian population is expected to reach 150 million by 2030.
- India is a global disease burden leader as the share of NCDs has almost doubled since the 1990s.
- More than a quarter of global deaths due to air pollution occur in India alone.
- Additionally, India’s public health financing is low, varying between 1% and 1.5% of GDP, which is among the lowest percentages in the world.
- The share of India’s elderly population is now increasing and is expected to be 12% by 2050.
- One major concern about India is the countries skewed sex ratio. As per 2011 census, the sex ratio was 943 females per 1,000 males; by 2022, it is expected to be approximately 950 females per 1,000 males.
- India stands 101 out of 116 nations in the Global Hunger Index event though India has one of the most extensive welfare programmes for food security through the Public Distribution System and the Midday Meals Scheme.
Demographic changes in India:
- In the 1960s, India had a population growth rate of over 2%. The current rise in population is expected to fall to 1% by 2025.
- As per the National Family Health Survey, India’s total fertility rate (TFR) slipped to two, below the replacement level fertility (2.1 children per woman).
- Despite this the population will continue to grow for three to four decades owing to the population momentum (large number of women in their reproductive age groups).
Advantages for India:
- As in the WPP 2022, one of the largest workforces globally will be in India, i.e., in the next 25 years, one in five working-age group persons will be living in India. This advantage is expected to grow till the mid-2050s.
- Life expectancy at birth which saw a remarkable recovery graph from 32 years in 1947 to 70 years in 2019.
- The infant mortality rate declined from 133 in 1951 (for the big States) to 27 in 2020.
- The under-five mortality rate fell from 250 to 41, and the maternal mortality ratio dropped from 2,000 in the 1940s to 103 in 2019.
What needs to be done:
- Advance investments in the development of a robust social, financial and healthcare support system for old people is the need of the hour.
- The focus of action should be on extensive investment in human capital, on older adults living with dignity, and on healthy population ageing.
- We should be prepared with suitable infrastructure, conducive social welfare schemes and massive investment in quality education and health.
- The focus should be on augmentation of the quality of life rather than population control.
Source: THE HINDU