INDIA has officially overtaken China in terms of population. In addition to being the most populous now, India is also the youngest nation in the world. The average age of the country’s population is 28.3 years, which is 10 years less than the Chinese. In fact, the number of old people in China is increasing rapidly. There are more than 200 million people over 65 years of age in China.
According to the State of the World Population Report 2023 of the United Nations Population Fund, the population of India has increased to 142 crore 86 lakh, while the population of China is 142 crore 57 lakh, i.e., 29 lakh less than us. The report shows that India’s population is larger than the population of Europe, Africa, or America put together.
Large population doesn’t only mean more mouths to feed; it also means more number of hands to work. The number of women workers in rural areas in India was 19.7 per cent in 2018-19; it increased to 27.7 per cent in 2020-21. There are about 50 crore workers in the country. If workers above 15 years of age are included, this figure will be more than 100 crore. About 54 lakh people are working in the country’s technology companies. One and a half crore new workers have been added in the last three quarters. Also, India will become a $7-trillion economy by 2030 due to skilled workers.
Large population, which used to be seen as India’s biggest weakness, is its biggest strength. Today, the people of India, who have proved their skill in every field, are ready to show the world that a big size can do big things.
There is also no reason to worry about bulging growth having a deleterious effect in future because the replacement or fertility rate in India is actually declining. The replacement rate is the average birth rate per woman. According to population experts, if this rate is 2.1 in a society, then the population in that society will remain stable. In India, this rate is now highest in Bihar, but there are many states where this rate has decreased considerably from the expected rate. For the country as a whole, the replacement rate had fallen to 2.159 at the end of 2022. It means, at the national level, India has almost achieved the expected replacement rate. The decline in the birth rate is directly related to the conditions of human development.
Education, healthcare, empowerment of women and improvement in living standards are the factors that motivate people to have small families. China controlled its population by improving its standard of living.
To control population, the development of health services is most important and India will also have to make efforts in this direction. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government is taking rapid strides on that front. What is needed is to convert the population into new opportunities for the development of the country by keeping it fit and healthy; and we have already shown it by doing so on many occasions. It can be said without doubt that the new ‘Virat Bharat’ has become a powerhouse of human resources.
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