BENGALURU: Following the United Nations report that India would overtake China and become the world’s most populous country in the next eight years, Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka Jairam Ramesh expressed concern that the trend would affect all South Indian states. In a special mention in Parliament, he stated that news comes at a time when most (Indian) states have already reached replacement levels of fertility.
“However, six states still have total fertility rates in excess of the replacement level of 2:1 and need concentrated attention. These are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Even the much-heralded model state of Gujarat would have reached this landmark twenty years after undivided Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, twenty-five years after Tamil Nadu and thirty years after Kerala,” he said.
“As the country’s population increases, the relative shares of states will also undergo a considerable shift. The five South Indian states will see their combined share of population decline from the present level of about 15% to around 10% by the middle of the century, while the share of just four states — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan — will increase from something like 40% now to about 44%. The population of these states will continue to grow as South Indian states would face either a stable or declining population,” he stated.
He also said that it would be highly unfair if states, particularly those in South India that have pioneered family planning, end up losing seats in Parliament. “They need to be reassured now. Equally important, the recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission, expected in a few months’ time, should also not end up penalising the south Indian states and if they indeed do as is being feared, the Union government must step in and compensate them,” he added.