India's Growing Population - Our Strength or Weakness?
July 11, 2012
World Population Day
Come another World Population Day and it is time for introducing a slew of family welfare programmes for the government in order to improve the quality of human resource and also to put breaks on the rapid growth of our population to some extent. But all these measures have failed to yield desired results or the results have been insignificant as compared to the growth we have been witnessing. The reasons for this are varied ranging democratic compulsions to political expediency on the part of the government and our own languid response to a pressing issue like unhindered population growth.
Now there is an assuring argument doing the rounds that we need not lose sleep over our multiplying numbers because our population itself is our strength and not our weakness as it was once envisaged. The reason for this is that that huge population offers a bigger pool of human resource and hence a bigger consumer market. We wish it were true but the reality is quite different from what we expect it to be. No doubt it is good to be optimistic. However, sticking on to this optimism does not do any good for India because it is not always quantity alone that matters. What matters of course is the quality of our population which is abysmally pedestrian and we cannot for sure say the quality of our humungous population is an asset to our country.
True. In a social or political set up we cannot overlook the potential of a big number. The power of numbers and the potential market created by a huge population can sustain a country to some extent. Many European countries which have been experiencing zero or negative population growth have realized this lacunae as they economy is in shambles and have been offering incentives for people in their countries to encourage them to have more children in order to increase their population. On the other hand we have a few countries (including India) where population is growing unabashedly putting extra burden on our limited infrastructure and negating whatever progress we have achieved. The biggest casualty in our greed to multiply has been the nature which has been ravaged, exploited and squeezed to the tilt leaving very little capacity for her to shower her bounty any more.
So what the world faces today is a problem of either too little or too much of population. For many European countries the negative growth of population in their countries is a worrying factor. There is an imbalance both in quality and quantity of population at the global level. Unfortunately for India its burgeoning population is a cause for concern mainly because the quality of our population is mediocre. Despite some sincere efforts at one stage and some half-hearted measures over the years government policies have failed to bring about any drastic improvement in the quality of our human resource.
Even now people in our country consider that having more children would supplement family's meager income and hence they go for more children. There are people who still believed children are gift of god and fail to realize that more mouths to feed means a sizeable section of our society is deprived of even basic necessities. The quality of our undernourished, poverty stricken, unhealthy, uneducated population will be nothing as compared to those where quality of life in terms of food, shelter, clothing housing, health-care, economic security, old-age care and standard of living is much higher and superior.
Needless to say the productivity of such a population would be much higher than those where the people have to struggle on a daily basis for getting even the basic needs. While countries like China and Japan have taken firm steps to reverse the trend of population growth India is taking it easy thinking that its 1.2 billion population is its asset or strength. But the truth is quite farther from this. We need to take drastic measures and resolutely try to improve the quality of our population to convert it into quality human resource. Or else all our efforts will go down in the drains.
This is easier said than done. Our population can be our strength only when we have the power and strength to feed the people, provide them clothing and shelter, good education, health care and jobs and mould them into an asset. As of now, whatever little measures adopted by the government for the betterment of the people have failed to effectively reach out to the huge population spread across this vast country. We don't have the wherewithal to mould this huge population into useful resource and therefore it will be a burden and not an asset to our country
Growing population has put pressure on our limited infrastructure which may crash under the burden of the weight of its population any time. Growing population would put more pressure on existing housing sector, our transport system, health care, education, ecology, natural resources and food production. Huge population has taken a toll on our environment which has been exploited to cater to the needs of the growing population. Our country has not been able to concentrate on much progress because our unbridled population growth has neutralized whatever progress we have achieved. Poverty is intrinsically connected to exponential population growth and hence it is imperative to we have a system where sincere efforts are made to curb the population growth.
Our neighboring country China stringently adopted one child policy and as a result parents could give more time and attention to raise, educate and train the child. Its one-child policy has yielded desired results as China will be way ahead of India in terms of quality of human capital in the next one decade. It does not mean to say India needs to adopt such an extreme measure like the one China has put to practice because we are a democratic country. No political party worth its salt would dare to introduce such a policy in India. But we certainly need to devise and implement policies and programmes without succumbing to political expediency or democratic compulsions with the sole aim of improving the quality of our population, which is possible only by curbing its growth, as a first step.
Unless and until we make noticeable efforts to improve the quality of our population and equip ourselves to be the best we are hardly going to make any difference, except that we keep multiplying and put more burden on our already overburdened infrastructure and our ecosystem. A huge population makes efficient management a burdensome task and everything goes beyond our control.
Every year July 11 is observed as World Population Day. The major intention of celebrating this day is to create awareness on issues pertaining to global population. The world population has crossed 7.025 billion in May this year and it has taken just 24 years for the population to grow from a mere 5 billion in 1987 to more than 7 billion in two decades. India is all set to overtake China (only in numbers) by 2030 but we cannot say the same with the quality.
Procreation is our right but it is not enough just to multiply in number. What we e need to consider is not what the large population of our country has done so far but what kind of population we are becoming of now. We definitely need to strike a healthy balance between quantity and quality.