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A demographic window of opportunity: On population and policy

Mains-GS1-Society, Mains-GS2-Social Justice

When will India overtake China as the most populous country?

a) Recently published ‘World Population Prospects and forecast’ states that India will overtake China as the most populous country by 2027.

b) It was released by the United Nations. UN revises its population projections every two years.

c) However, in 2015, it was predicted that India would overtake China in 2022.

d) In 1979, China instituted a ‘One-child policy’. Even if India could institute a policy that reduces its fertility rate to the Chinese level, India will overtake China as the most populous country.

Which are the critical issues to be dealt with?

a) Birth rates and few incentives or disincentives are powerful enough to overcome the desire for children.

i) Measures such as restriction on maternity benefits for first two children only, disqualification from panchayat elections for people with more than two children, etc. are inadequate.

ii) Incentives for sterilization are also not working.

iii) Many women are preferring more than two children over the post of sarpanch.

b) If punitive actions won’t work, people must be encouraged to have smaller families voluntarily.

i) Total Fertility Rate (TFR) for the poorest women was 3.2 compared to only 1.5 for the richest quintile in 2015-16.

ii) To get to TFR of 1.5, a substantial proportion of the population among the top 40% must stop at one child.

c) There must be a change in our mindset about how population is incorporated in broader development policies.

i) Population growth in the north and central parts of India is far greater than that in south India.

ii) However, southern states are ahead than northern states in development levels.

Who will be favoured after use of 2011 census baseline?

a) 15th Finance Commission is expected to use the 2011 Census for making its recommendations regarding source allocation among the states.

b) Before it, 1971 population is used to allocate seats for the Lok Sabha and for Centre-State allocation under various Finance Commissions.

c) This proposed revision has led to protests from the southern States as the feeling is that they are being penalized for better performance in reducing fertility.

e.g. Between the 1971 and 2011 Censuses, the population of Kerala grew by 56% compared to about 140% growth for Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.

d) A move to use the 2011 Census for funds allocation will favor the north-central States compared to Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

How to maximize the demographic dividend?

a) Government must invest in the education and health of the workforce, particularly in States whose demographic window of opportunity is still more than a decade away.

b) Enhancing the productivity of backward states will benefit everyone in the future.

c) India should accept the fact that being the most populous nation is its destiny. It must work towards enhancing the lives of its current and future citizens.

Source- The Hindu