Introduction: Population explosion is not only a problem in India; it has reached a menacing proportion all over the world, especially in the poorer countries.
The population of India was around 361 million during the census of 1951. It reached over 1.21 billion during the census of 2011.
Some statistics relating to population growth indicate that by 2022, the population of India is likely to pass the 1.5 billion mark. Thus, there is no denying that India is currently experiencing a population explosion.
The developed countries in the West or in countries like Japan which are rich enough to employ all their people according to their abilities the growth of population may prove to be a boon, for the rapid growth of industries and national wealth always need greater workforce to implement the programs of development in ever-expanding spheres. However, a developing country like India, where the resources and employment opportunities are limited, the rapid increase in population during the post-independent has negatively affected its economy.
Population Explosion refers the sudden and rapid rise in the size of population, especially human population. It is an unchecked growth of human population caused as a result of:
- increased birth rate,
- decreased infant mortality rate, and
- improved life expectancy.
A drastic growth in population beyond normal limits is called population explosion. It is more prominent in under-developed and developing countries than in developed countries.
Population explosion mainly refers to the surge in population post-World War II. However, in context to India, it refers to the rapid increase in population in post-Independent era.
Also read: Short Paragraph on Population Explosion
The causes of population explosion are as follows:
- Accelerating birthrate: Due to lack of awareness about the positive impact of using birth-control method, there has been a steady growth in birthrate.
- Decrease in infant mortality rate: An improvement in medical science and technology, wide usage of preventive drugs (vaccines), has reduced the infant mortality rate. There has been great improvement in medical and health-care facilities during the past few decades.
- Increase in life expectancy: Due to improved living conditions, better hygiene and sanitation habits, better nutrition, health education, etc. the average life expectancy of human population has improved significantly. Steady supply of good quality food make sure that the population is well nourished. Populations grow when they are adequately nourished.
- Increased immigration: An increase in immigration often contributes towards population explosion, particularly in developed countries. It happens when a large number arrive at an already populated place with the intention to reside permanently.
- Less space than required: In urban cities, it is often found that there is very less scope for making available extra space to absorb the additional population. In such cases, a large population is seen packed into a smaller space.
The effects of population explosion in India are as follows:
Over-population: Population explosion may lead to overpopulation, i.e., a condition where population surges to a level that the earth cannot accommodate comfortably, and poses a threat to the environment.
Unemployment: In developing countries like India, with a backward economy and little scope for fruitful employment, millions of people find no work to do. The unemployed, having nothing to do and without an ensured living, are left frustrated and demoralize, losing their faith in life itself. As it happens in India and several underdeveloped countries in Asia and Africa, the unemployed threatens the very process of development and plunge the country in gloom. It is only natural. Those who are born with two hands consider it a curse when they are denied the simple right to work and earn a living. While their numbers go on multiplying and the growth rate becomes menacing, the fruits of development are found to be too inadequate to bridge the yawning gulf.
Poverty: High birth rate, both historically and statistically, is associated with poverty and low standard of living. It may be noted that poverty is both the cause and effect of population explosion. Due to poverty, there has been massive growth of population. On the other hand, the large masses of people live in poverty due to overpopulation.
It may sound queer, but the law is that the poorer a country the greater is the growth rate of its population. India, caught in the morass of her age-old poverty, finds herself in the midst of a population explosion. The population that was less than 400 million in the forties was found to be about 1.21 billion in 2011 census. As a result of this even the six plans completed by now have so far failed to cope with the enormous problem of unemployment.
Whatever our plans might have achieved in some sixty-five years is found to be too little to eradicate poverty. More than seventy percent of Indians live in villages and most of them languish in their dark, dreary nooks; the fruits of our plans have not quite reached them. Many of them have no occupation. Due to lack of awareness, poor people fail to check population growth. In the towns too the poorer sections always have bigger families, while the rich and well-off sections live comfortably with small families. The poor in India are ignorant and superstitious, and so they do not see the advantages of planned family. Many of them never think of going against the law of nature and the will of their God; so they never refrain from breeding children, though they know that they cannot even feed them and keep them away from the curse of poverty and ignorance. Perhaps the sickening monotony of living in their world of despair leads them to torment their women with a vengeance and seek as much pleasure as they can. These poor people do not have the education necessary for planning their present with a view to ensuring a better future. This is why while their hope wears off they leap in the dark and break their neck, making things grimmer for their world. The millions of famished, under-nourished and naked children everywhere in India show the chaos this country is in.
Illiteracy: The resources available are fixed. In theory and in practice, the total available resources are shared by the people using them. Population explosion is the key reason for illiteracy in India. People prefer engage their children in economic activities, rather than providing them education.
Poor Health: If people do not get adequate food and nutrition, then they may suffer from poor health.
Economy: People need food, clothes, shelter, and occupation to make their living. The demand for consumption should never exceed the production or resource limit. The economy of any country is negatively impacted, if there is massive population explosion beyond the tolerance limit.
Pollution and Global warming: Too much population causes too much pressure on earth. There arises excessive demand for finished products leading to over-industrialization and over-utilization of resources. The industrial discharges, and fumes are the chief causes for water and air pollution. Further, the poisonous gases released because of burning of fossil fuels in factories is widely responsible for Global warming.
Control Measures / Initiatives
The government cannot ignore or shelve the problem of population explosion, for it is a rot and entire development of the country depends on how effectively it is stemmed. This awareness made our governments, both at the centre and in the states, to think about the adopt official programme to educate public opinion and reduce the birth rate so that the population can fit in well with the evolving pattern of developing economy.
The Family Planning as an official programme was launched with much fanfare in 1952. The government is still trying to educate the people. All government agencies and institutions mobilized all their resources to attain the goal of planned families. The propaganda machinery was geared up with the help of public media. The people were reminded of the advantages of small families, of healthy and happy children and of the need for eradicating the age-old poverty. The parents were persuaded to go in for sterilization after the births of two children, for the contraceptive were not always found to be safe and full-proof. Many parents, especially the educated, came forward to see things in the new light and were amenable to persuasion. However, many others resisted, at places quite violently, and refused to see reason. The government was very serious about making the programme a success. The state governments also came forward to help the center in its bid to achieve success. Cheap contraceptives were distributed in even the remotest villages, sex education was popularized, vasectomy operations were conducted and abortion was legalized.
However, even then family planning has a lot more to achieve, for the population in India has already become about 121 billion and at this rate of growth it may very soon become 150 billion and then 200 billion and so on.
The problem of population can be solved only by creating awareness and educating the people to control birthrates. The advantages of adopting to various birth control methods should be properly explained to common people.
Conclusion: Population explosion has caused more pressure on earth. We should save energy so that the entire population can enjoy its benefit. We can control the global warming issues by curbing the usage of fossil fuels. Food security is another area that need attention. The agricultural output should increase with growing population to make sure steady supply of food to all. We should use potable water carefully. With larger population, there is a need for harmony and peace among nations.
Edited with inputs from various contributors.