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Sansad TV: Special Report – 8 Billion: Infinite Possibilities

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Analysis:

  • On 15 November 2022, the world’s population is projected to reach 8 billion people, a milestone in human development.
  • This unprecedented growth is due to the gradual increase in human lifespan owing to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene and medicine. It is also the result of high and persistent levels of fertility in some countries.
  • While it took the global population 12 years to grow from 7 to 8 billion, it will take approximately 15 years—until 2037— for it to reach 9 billion, a sign that the overall growth rate of the global population is slowing.
  • Countries with the highest fertility levels tend to be those with the lowest income per capita. Global population growth has therefore over time become increasingly concentrated among the world’s poorest countries, most of which are in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In these countries, sustained rapid population growth can thwart the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which remain the world’s best pathway toward a happy and healthy future.
  • Even though population growth magnifies the environmental impact of economic development, rising per capita incomes are the main driver of unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.
  • The countries with the highest per capita consumption of material resources and emissions of greenhouse gas emissions tend to be those where income per capita is higher, not those where the population is growing rapidly.
  • Meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise, while achieving the SDGs, critically depends on curbing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.
  • Yet, slower population growth over many decades could help to mitigate the further accumulation of environmental damage in the second half of the current century.

Concerns associated with it:

  • Some believe that high fertility causes poverty and that lower fertility is the key to reducing poverty.
  • At the end of the 18th century, Thomas Malthus and his followers argued that high fertility and poverty went hand in hand. Malthus himself, focusing on the impoverishing effects of scarce land and rising food prices, urged couples not to marry and have children unless they could afford to support them.
  • As high population below poverty line add to high level of illiteracy, poor health care facilities and poor access to financial resources.
  • Increase in the population results in more family expenses.
  • Unemployment rate increases pushing families to poverty.
  • Hence high population growth affects the per capita income and makes per capita income even lower.
  • Poverty encourages the families to reproduce more with the expectation that the number of members in the family is directly proportional to the working force of the family resulting in more income for the family.
  • Poverty discourages families from sending their children to schools resulting in increased illiteracy.
  • Further, illiteracy stops one from thinking the consequences of high population in the family.
  • Poverty pushes families to get their female children married at a very young age which gives rise to early and increased re-production.

Way Forward:

  • It is very necessary to create growth momentum, investment should be adequately made in key infrastructure areas, social infrastructure and that to particularly education, water, and health.
  • Family planning is a preventive measure in bringing down maternal and child mortality rate.
  • China and Japan have controlled their population by various measures, the same can be adopted by us according to our suitability.
  • Proper healthcare facilities to women, education to girl child.

Conclusion:

  • Analysts believe that India’s growing population can be a double-edged swordand the country needs to put in place the right policies to maximize the potential of its people by enhancing the state of education, health and infrastructure, so that India figures at better in various human development rankings.
  • It is imperative that policy-makers deal with the situation on multiple fronts.
  • Universal education, value-added skills accretion and massive growth in employment in the formal sectors should be the key focus areas.
  • Unfulfilled aspirations of the youth can quickly turn to frustration, leading to violent outbursts. There is also a need to engage with the youth and create an enabling environment for entrepreneurship.
  • Failure to do so would not just mean a missed opportunity in terms of harnessing the demographic dividend, but the ensuing rise in unemployment and poverty could undermine the advances made on the economic front and foment societal upheaval.