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October 30, 2017

Essays for Competitive Exams : Population Trends in India

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Population Trends in India

Main Points to Highlight : Rapid rise in population is a major problem being faced by India. It negates all our growth and developments. Ejliwtive family planning and population stability are urgently needed. The present fertility rate is quite high and must be brought down drastically. Illiteracy and poverty are two great hindrances in family planning. The states with low literacy have the highest birth rates. Literate women make good use offamily planning and birth-control devices. Two-children family norm should be enforced strictly. There should be more incentives and de-incentives to oblige people to take up family planning on a large scale to reverse the prevailing and alarming population trends in the country.

The prevailing population trends in India are quite disturbing as they show how fast the country is hurtling towards demographic disaster which in its turn is bound to generate other crisis. The problem of population explosion is one of the major problems being faced by the country. At the rate of 31 new babies every minute we are adding 45,000 persons daily to our population. Thus, every year we have nearly 16 million more people to feed, educate, shelter and find jobs. Obviously, the population bomb is ticking away and we are doing nothing serious and effective in the matter. It negates all our economical growth and development because sustained progress and development are impossible without stability in the rate of population growth. Today's growth rate in population is about 2 percent which will take India's population to 7,000 million mark soon. 

There has been decline in India's population growth rate to 17.64% in the decade 2010-11. But this decline is not enough and demands some urgent and effective if not drastic measures in respect of family planning and population stability. The country's present total fertility rate (TFR) is 2.7. This reflects how miserably we have failed in family planning programmes and population-control. China's TFR in 2014 was 1.55 in comparison to India's 2.51. China has considerably brought down its TFR and population growth rate but India has been left far behind. China is today the most populous country but in coming years it would be replaced by India at the present rate of growth of 2 percent per annum or average of 3 children per woman. The fertility rate is even higher in U.P., Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhaya Pradesh and Punjab. The total fertility rate is the highest in UP at 3.3 percent. 

The sex ratio (i.e., number of females per thousand males) of population is 943 females per 1000 males as of 2015.

Structure and dynamics of India's population and land distribution has always been a major subject matter. India occupies only 2.4% of the world's land area, supporting over 15% of the world's population. Almost 40% of Indians are younger than 15 years of age. About 70% of the people live in more than 5,50,000 villages and the remainder in more than 200 towns and cities. Religion, caste, and language are major determinants of social and political organization. 18 languages have been recognized as official languages as per the Constitution of India. Religion wise, the Indian population is unique. 83% of the people are Hindu, whereas 120 million Muslims makes India, one of the world's largest Muslim country. The population also includes Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis. 

The 1991 census, which was carried out under the direction of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India (Part of Ministry of Home Affairs), in keeping with the previous two census, used the term urban agglomerations. It forms a continuous urban spread and consists of a city or town and its urban outgrowth outside the statutory limits. A university campus on military base located on the outskirts of a city or town, which often increases the actual urban area of that city on town, is an example of an urban agglomeration. In India's urban agglomerations with a population of 1 million or more—there were twenty-four in 1991—are referred to as metropolitan areas. A population of 100,000 or more are termed "cities" as compared with "towns", which have a population of less than 100,000. Including the metropolitan areas, the number of urban agglomerations were 299 in 1991. Such urban agglomerations are termed or designated as Class I urban units. 

Literacy is one of the major factors that helps in stabilizing the growth rate of population. It has been opined that a 40 percent literacy rate is the minimum threshold level for an economic take off in a country. Illiteracy and lack of education is a great hindrance in family planning and welfare. Over 25 percent of Indian women do not have any idea of family planning and methods of birth-control. The literacy rate is highest in Kerala and lowest in Bihar. Rajasthan ranks second from the bottom and Uttar Pradesh fifth. The states with low literacy have the high fertility and birth rate. Educated women tend to marry later than illiterate and uneducated women. The former make good use of family planning and birth control devices. Literate and educated couples of rural areas show keen interest in family planning measures and willingly adopt them if made conveniently available. Employment of women also helps in stabilizing the population and education is the essential pre-requisite of employment. Literacy in the country means, completion of the primary education. The more educated a woman is, the better awareness she has about family planning, birth-control and family-welfare. 

Literacy also reduces gender inequality and women become conscious of their conjugal rights and privileges. They can better resist their exploitation in matters of marriage, maternity, child-care and family planning. In our male dominated society it is very essential that women are made educated and literate so that they too can have some say in deciding the size of family. It has been observed that where women are educated and empowered they often adopt a small family norm. The decline in population growth rate in Kerala can be sighted as an example. It was 4.91% in 2001-2011. 

Poverty, backwardness, casteism and religious fundamentalism are other major factors of population explosion in India. The son-fixation and desire to have no daughter is also very unfortunate. Daughters are regarded as great liabilities and the sons the great assets and boons. This preference to sons over daughters is one of the major reasons of high fertility and birth rate. About 40 percent of Indian population has been living under poverty line. They find it difficult to keep their bodies and souls together. They do not have even the minimum and basic amenities of life. They have been struggling to survive somehow or other. They have children as often as nature allows them to have. It is too much to expect them to think about and adopt modern family planning methods. They work hard as landless farmers, daily labourers or as marginal farmers. As such, the more hands there are, the better. Therefore, the poor Indian villagers think in terms of a large family so that there are sufficient hands to earn out a living. 

The population trends in India are certainty alarming. There is much pressure on our land and water resources. The urban population is increasing by leaps and bounds and vast new slums are being created in the cities. The increase in urban population has further compounded the problem. It is high time that our government takes some concrete and hard decisions to curb the rate of population growth. There would be nothing undemocratic or coercive if 2 children family norm is strictly enforced. There should be incentives and disincentives to adhere to 2 children family norm. China is the most populous country but now has achieved the low fertility rate. A certain discipline is a must to achieve family planning and population targets and the carrot and stick approach should not be ruled out. The International Conference on Population and Development, held in 1994 at Cairo, endorsed the voluntary approach and rejected the idea of nudging population towards specified family norms through officially-sponsored incentives, disincentives programmes. But in a country like India where there is rampant poverty, low literacy rate and other problems only voluntary approach cannot be depended upon. There should be a strong dose of disincentives who opt for more than 2 children. Sometimes stick is as essential as the carrot, however, carrot should be used more frequently. The very future of our country is at stake and so there should be no hesitation in taking some harsh and strict measures of family planning.
shared by Suresh Kumar
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