India’s population growth story, Hope for higher India economic growth, Current Affairs 28th April, 2017

India’s population growth story, Hope for higher India economic growth, Current Affairs 28th April, 2017

India’s population growth story

Introduction

India being home to second largest population of the world has been striving hard to achieve stability. Population can be seen as a resource or a burden depending on the way it is used for the country’s progress. India has population policy that is well oriented.

National Population policy:

The National Population Policy (NPP) 2000 provides a policy framework of achieving goals and prioritizing strategies during the next decade to meet the reproductive and child health needs of the people of India along with the target to achieve the net replacement levels (Total Fertility Rate). It aims at stable population by 2045.

Issue:

Evidence from India’s last Census in 2011, confirmed by data from the recent National Family Health Survey 2017 (NFHS-4), shows that fertility in India is fast approaching replacement levels.

  • Replacement level means that couples will have children who will essentially replace their number, to stabilise population growth.
  • The NFHS-4 shows that in the past decade, the average number of children per family has come down from 2.7 to 2.2.
    • With replacement fertility being 2.1 children per woman, this is good news for the land and the people.
  • Even after fertility rates drop to replacement levels, the total population will still grow, and is likely to reach 1.7 billion by 2050.
    • The thrust of this growth will come from the youth bulge, with 365 million (10-24 years old) already in, or soon to enter, their reproductive ages.
    • Even if they have children only in numbers that replace themselves, the resultant growth due to such a large base of young people will drive the growth momentum for population.
  • For India as a whole, 75% of population growth in the coming decade will be due to this momentum.
  • In States like Assam, Gujarat and Haryana, which are about to reach replacement levels, it would be more effective to adopt policies for delaying childbearing rather than limiting births.
  • Fertility reduction, where it still needs to take place, must come from increased availability and use of quality family planning services. 

Focus on Working population demand:

  • When States are clustered in terms of fertility levels, one foresees a predominantly youthful north and an ageing south.
    • Most of the current and future demographic potential is locked in the northern States and largely located in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
    • In the south, there will be a dearth of young working people to keep up and expand the level of economic development.
    • Investing in young people in the north to realize the demographic dividend will be a win-win situation for all India, north and south.
  • From the policy perspective, this means that for India as a whole, it is time for the emphasis to be on momentum-focussed policies and programmes.
  • The Prime Minister will soon chair a meeting of the National Population Commission, in order to take stock of the situation and chart out the path ahead, especially keeping population stabilisation in mind.
  • The National Health Policy 2017 emphasises quality of care and commitment to sustainable development, and positions improved access, education and empowerment as the basis for population stabilisation.
  • It is now for States to align their own health and population policies to the national ones

Conclusion:

Population growth and the dynamics associated have multiple spillover effects on various sectors of economy, polity and society. Hence a policy orientation needs to take into consideration all the possible effects before a policy design.

Connecting the dots:

  • Analyse the impact of India achieving replacement levels of fertility on working population and demographic dividend of the country.

Hope for higher India economic growth

Belief in economic growth has come to be seen as a solution for all India’s social and political problems, including poverty, social exclusion and environmental degradation. Top government economists believe that for India, in order to transform itself and attain the desired level of economic and social outcomes, requires higher and sustainable growth in coming years. Higher economic growth will not only create employment, but will also generate higher revenue which will help increase government spending without disturbing the budgetary balance. Higher growth is the best way of lifting standards of living.

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