‘Don’t fret over UN report, India’s population on decline’
Fertility rates in India show a declining trend and there’s no need to be concerned over UN projection of country overtaking China, says expert.
Published: 13th July 2022 09:06 AM | Last Updated: 13th July 2022 09:08 AM | A+A A-
NEW DELHI: Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of the Population Foundation of India (PFI), is not worried about a United Nations report projecting India overtaking China as the world’s most populous country by next year. She says India’s population growth is already on a decline.
“There is no reason to be concerned. India has already started experiencing a dip in fertility rates. The Indian Census data on population confirms that the decadal growth rate during 2001-2011 had reduced to 17.7% from 21.5% over 1991-2001,” said Muttreja.
The UN report, released on Monday, says by 2050, India’s population will reach 166. 8 crore, surpassing China’s population at 131.7 crore.The findings of the report have sparked a debate in many quarters over whether India needs to act more on its population policy programmes.
However, the expert pointed out that according to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS), the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is decreasing in India, and it has gone down from 3.4 in 1992-93 to 2.0 in 2019-21 (NFHS).
“This indicates that the country is on course to achieving population stabilization,” she said. However, she points out that the absolute number of people in the country will continue to grow for some time due to a high proportion of young persons in the population.
“Even if this cohort of young population produces only one or two children per couple, it will still result in a quantum increase in population size before stabilizing, which as per current projections will happen around 2050,” said Muttreja.
The UN report comes at a time when several states including UP, MP, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Tripura and Assam are considering laws to control the population growth. Last year, the UP Law Commission submitted a draft of the Uttar Pradesh Population Bill, to incentivize families to follow a two-child norm.
Stressing that India does not need any policy to control population growth, Muttreja said a population control policy would adversely impact the marginalized sections of society, who lack access to child and maternal health care services.
“There is a perception that India’s population is ‘exploding’ and we need to ‘control’ it as resources are limited. Also, there is widespread misinformation that the Muslim community will soon surpass the Hindu population despite the fact that the population growth rate is declining across all religion and communities,” she said. “There is no evidence that coercive policies work.”
She also cited the experience of southern states such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu. “To lower fertility and stabilize population, other states should ensure the provision of basic services, expand opportunities, invest in girls’ education and access to family planning services”.
The expert also said that India should learn from the mistakes of China, which had enforced a one-child policy, which it had to abandon later, because of a population crisis.
Demand for bill gathers steam
NEW DELHI: The UN report on population has rekindled the debate on the population bill, a long-standing demand of BJP-ruled states and party lawmakers.
Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha, who had earlier brought a private member bill seeking to enforce the two-child norm, said the report vindicated his position. He told TNIE that he is planning to create more awareness among MPs in the coming monsoon session. “We will discuss the bill in the light of the UN report,” Sinha said.
“We should be worried about imbalance in the population and depleting resources.” Sinha’s bill, which proposed penal provisions, was dismissed by Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya who said the government had successfully used awareness and health campaigns to attain population control.
On allegations that the proposal to bring a population law is aimed is targeting the Muslims, Sinha said, “Some people have hidden agenda of increasing population. There is no place for demographic jihad in this country.”
POPULATION IN 2022
- India 1.412 bn
- China 1.426 bn
PROJECTED POPULATION in 2050
- India 1.668 bn
- China 1.317 bn
States that are considering framing law on population control: Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura, and Assam; UP law commission had already submitted a draft Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilization and Welfare) Bill, 2021
- National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) shows India’s total fertility rate (TFR) has declined from 2.2 in 2015-16 to 2.0 in 2019-21, indicating progress of population control programmes
- India’s growth rate stood at 2.3 per cent in 1972, which has dropped down to less than 1 per cent now