11th July is marked as World Population Day as announced by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme.This day generally seeks to grab our attention to the importance of population issues.
Population generally means the total number of individuals occupying an area. But what happens when it crosses its limit?
The current world population is 7.6 billion which is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030. China with 1.4 billion and India with 1.3 billion populations are the two most populous in the world.
But it is expected that India will surpass China in population by 2025. We can get a clear display of increasing population in every nook and corner of India. Whether we are in a railway station, road, hospital, market, or in a social or religious gathering, we see these places overcrowded all the time and this indicates the overpopulation in our country.
For a country like India ,where there is limited availability of resources, it becomes quite hard to meet the needs of increasing population. The poor are the worst sufferers. It is obvious that overpopulation is the root cause of poverty in India or we can say both poverty and population growth are interrelated. The number of Indians living in urban areas has increased over the last decade, but about 67% of people still live in rural areas.
Generally increase in population occurs when there is no control on birth rates and this is because of lack of awareness. We have been successful in decreasing the death rate but the same isn’t happening with the birth rate. Many people residing in urban areas have understood the problem as because many of them are literate and aware with the fact, but it’s quite challenging to change the mindset of poor people living in rural areas, who have a notion that more members in the family will bring more income. Some of them even feel that more children are the security, for their children will look after them in their old age.
Some of the local people in the housing society where I live have weird ideas on the subject. One person said these things are natural and occurs with God’s wish so we should not interfere.
Illegal migration is also one of the major contributors to increasing population as many migrants from the neighboring countries (mostly from Nepal , Bangladesh, and Burma (Myanmar) migrate to India illegally which leads to the increased population density.
There are many more phenomena like the early marriage system and illiteracy that are responsible of population growth,
Over-population results in unemployment, poverty, ill health, low per- capita, economic depression, scarcity of resourcesand inflation.
India is expected to become the world’s ‘youngest’ country with 64% of the population under 30 by 2020. A yawning employment gap looms, despite the government efforts to resolve the issues of unemployment . States like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (also known as BIMARU states) have the highest number of population but the least rate of literacy and poor health facilities which hamper the development of the country.
For decades now, the Indian government has attempted to spread awareness. Many NGOs and Organizations have also come forward to educate people about the consequences of overpopulation by conducting seminars, events, and campaigns. Apart from all these, availability of free family planning products and services have been provided to a certain extent.
However, the major stumbling block is that the majority of poor Indians are also somewhat religious minded and are swayed by the opinions and advice given by the various pundits, priests, maulvis and gurus.
It is important to take the help of prominent religious leaders, who can be allies with the government and promote family planning. An example of this is the Catholic Church in India, which in theory frowns on artificial contraception devices, but its clergy are alive to the population imbalance and preach about ‘natural family planning’ methods such as planned birth and abstinence.
Shradha Chhetry is currently in her third year studying communicative English with Media Studies. She is based in Patna.