There are some 7.5
billion people in the world. By 2050, the world population is likely to
become nine billion. India, the second most populous country, has some
1.3 billion people and is expected to take the top position by
overtaking China by 2050. Amidst increasing numbers, concerns over
feeding the population and sustaining the resources are on top of the
mind of governments, experts and planners.
It is to address these issues and others related to population that the
World Population Day is celebrated on July 11. The Day was first
celebrated in 1989 when the world population reached five billion.
Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme
recommended that 11 July be observed by the international community as
World Population Day, to focus attention on the urgency and importance
of population issues. Since then, population trends and matters such as
reproductive health, contraception and challenges posed by the
increasing population are deliberated upon on this day.
The theme for 2017 World Population Day is “Family Planning: Empowering
People, Developing Nations.” This year's celebrations also coincide with
the Family Planning Summit, the second meeting of the Family Planning
2020 (FP2020) initiative, which aims to expand access to voluntary
family planning to 120 million additional women by 2020.
The theme this year has special significance since data indicates that
some 214 million women in developing countries who want to avoid
pregnancy are not using safe and effective family planning methods. Most
of these women with an unmet demand for contraceptives live in 69 of the
poorest countries. Lack of adequate family planning services jeopardizes
women’s health. Women are not able to use these services due to lack of
access to information, or services, or support from their partners, or
Considering its importance in stabilizing population, access to safe,
voluntary family planning methods is considered a human right and
central to gender equality and women’s empowerment. It is also seen as a
key factor in reducing poverty. Investments in making family planning
available yield economic gains which further propel development.
India with its large population also has huge unmet need for family
planning which government is trying to overcome. Statistics (DLHS III)
indicate young population has an unmet need of 20.5 per cent at the
national level - 13.3 per cent need for limiting methods and 7.2 per
cent for spacing methods. Women between 15 and 19 years have an unmet
need of 28.3 per cent and those between 20 and 24 years, have an unmet
need of 28.5 per cent.
Between 2001 and 2011 India added 181 million people to the world,
slightly less than the entire population of Brazil. Much of India’s
population increase has occurred among the poorest socio-economic
percentile. India’s huge population and the fact that it is expected to
increase further - according to government projections, the population
is expected to reach 1.55 billion by 2035 – pose both a challenge and an
opportunity. Since more than 60 per cent of this population will be in
the younger age bracket, below the age of 40 years, there will be
economic gains if this human resource is provided with education and
training in skill development. However, providing healthcare services to
this pool of youth so that it is healthy and able to contribute to
country’s economy may turn out to be a challenge. In addition, taking
care of the geriatric population, which goes up to about 223 million by
2035, will also be a challenge and require preventive, curative and
While providing food to the ever increasing world population is a
challenge, the UN has set ending hunger, achieving food security and
improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture as the second
of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the year 2030.
Achieving these objectives will require addressing issues like gender
parity, ageing populations, skills development and global warming.
According to experts, agriculture sector will have to become more
productive by adopting efficient business models and forging
public-private partnerships. It will also need to become sustainable by
reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water use and waste.
For India, it is imperative that it adopts effective measures to control
its population. According to a paper by Ranjit Goswami, IMT, Nagpur in
East Asia Forum, the global demand for water in 2050 is projected to be
more than 50 per cent of what it was in 2000, and demand for food will
double. On average, a thousand tons of water is required to produce one
ton of food grains. It is for this reason that international disputes
about water have increasingly been replicated among states in India,
where the Supreme Court is frequently asked to intervene.
Keeping aside the projections, government data indicates that India's
total fertility rate has declined from 2.6 in 2008 to current 2.3. India
is now just 0.2 points away from reaching the replacement level of 2.1.
In fact, 24 states have already achieved replacement level fertility and
about 60 per cent of the population resides in states where replacement
fertility has been reached or will soon be met including the southern
states, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Punjab.
The government is now accelerating family planning measures. It has
identified 146 districts with total fertility rate, the number of
children born per woman, of more than three to focus on. These districts
are in the seven states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya
Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam and make 28 per cent of the
country’s population. The health ministry is starting a programme called
"Mission Parivar Vikas" in these districts to improve access to family
planning services, create awareness and make family planning choices
Besides, government is already running a strategy to push up the age of
marriage of girls and delay in first child and spacing in second child.
The couples who adopt this strategy are awarded suitably. Under another
programme called Santushti Strategy, Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh, has
invited private sector gynaecologists and vasectomy surgeons to conduct
sterilization operations in public private partnership mode. The private
hospitals/nursing homes which achieve target are suitably awarded as per