Sunday, 5 May 2013

“People are realising that we cannot forever continue to multiply and subdue the earth without losing our standard of life and the natural beauty that must be part of it. These are the years of decision- the decision of men to stay the flood of man."  Ehrlich here explains the one of the most pressing problems facing man in the 20th century. The population of the world is increasing daily with a growth rate of about 1.2 % . Science and medicine have decreased the death rate exponentially while the birth rate has not decreased so. According to The United States bureau of census, the world population is presently about 7.2 billion with a potential of becoming 10 billion by the end of the century. Most contemporary estimates for the carrying capacity of the Earth under existing conditions are between 4 billion and 16 billion. In 100 years, the population could be well over the earth's carrying capacity.

Overpopulation has become one of the many concerns of any country. It is giving rise to various problems from inadequate fresh water, depletion of natural resources to increasing pollution and deforestation. Mass starvation is inevitable if population continues to increase the way it is currently. The existing grain is getting used up at the rate of knots and the rate at which the population is growing, it will be impossible to supply food and water to this increasing population. It creates unemployment; as the population keeps on increasing the job opportunities keep on diminishing. The rich-poor gap is increasing, creating the potential for large parts of the population to starve. Low level of per ca pita income reduces the purchasing power of the people making them poor and unable to educate their children resulting in lower standard of living.

Though one may argue that population matters for economic development of a country and it is, but we need to make sure that economic development does not come at a cost of our future generation’s lives. With about 1.24 billion of 7 billion population (17.7 % of the world population) it is clear that India has to take steps in reducing the growth rate of population alongside with increase in standards of living and sustainable environment. It is estimated that by 2050, India will overtake China to become the most populous country.

Fig: Population: India and the world.

For many years concern has been voiced over the seemingly unchecked rate of population growth in India. The most recent census indicates that some success is being achieved in slowing the rate of population growth.  However, the progress which has been achieved to date is still only of a modest nature. Moreover, in a country like India which has so huge a population base to begin with, a slowing of the rate of population growth may not be enough.

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