India is the second most populous country in the world after China with a population of about 1.2 billion. As per statistics in another decade India will overtake Chins as the most populous country in the world. The repercussions of this vast population are frightening and yet, not many people seem to be overtly worried about it.
Ancient India was supposed to be a land of milk and honey and foreign invaders came to India to savor the prosperity here. However there has been a down slide since that period. India at the turn of the last century had a population of about 250 million which at the time of Independence was about 320 million. At that time the production of food grains in the country was about 50 million tones. But by the mid sixties though the food grain production went up to 75 million tones, yet the population rose to 500 million and as such famine stalked the land and India had to beg for food grains from the USA under PL 480, to feed the hungry Indian population. Some of the wheat sent by the USA was contaminated, yet the hungry Indian masses devoured it.
The problem has now achieved greater dimension with the population having soared to 1.2 billion. Obviously food grains and goods cannot match this gigantic population and the result is an undernourished nation with prices of food grains mostly out of reach of the common man. By the Indian governments own admission about 35% Indians are subsisting below the poverty line. This is a sad commentary on a country that is striving to be considered a great power. I wonder how India can ever be a great power with 50% of the population under employed and under nourished. That is the reason for India‘s poor showing in the world of sports as well.
India has 2.4% of the worlds land mass and this supports 17.4 % of the world population. The lop sided figures should alarm anyone, except the Indian government. But why blame the Indian government when the masses themselves are oblivious to this state of affair.
Sanjay Gandhi, a Visionary
There was one man however for all his other faults that recognized the danger of a large population. He was Sanjay Gandhi ,the son of the erstwhile Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He in a revolutionary step during the ill fated emergency, launched into population control in a big way. He started by setting targets for family planning for all states and also stated using some coercion in enforcing vasectomy and sterilization with people who had more than 2 children. Everybody knows that he did not spare the Muslims as well and in dominant Muslim areas he enforced family planning. Yes! Some excesses were committed, but he realized that in case India is to be a world leader than this population that is going to Frank stein proportion needs to be stopped.
Bu the Indian masses not used to such coercion tactics voted Sanjay and the Congress out of power and with that went all the plans for control of population. As things stand India adds one Australia to its population every year and that I am sure will be a sobering thought.
Two communities in India however are totally averse to family planning and control of population. They are the Catholics and the Muslims who practice very little or no family planning. A visit to Hyderabad and the poorer areas of Utter Pradesh will show the minority families extremely poor yet having umpteen kids. This is the bane of India, that all the fruits of progress are frittered away by a large growing population.
Land and Population
This growth of population is also putting pressure on the available land with the result that India has the highest inflation in land prices anywhere in the world. An example will suffice. The price of land in Denmark has appreciated only by 2% over the last 4 decade while in India the rate is 400%. Thus everything is costly from land to food. Milk sells at about Rs 40-45 a liter while in the West it sells at about Rs 10.
I am afraid the future of the country is dark, unless the population is controlled. We could take a leaf out of China’s book which has lowered its birth rate by enforcing a one child norm. China is moving ahead and we are moving down. How many people know that the per capita consumption of food grains has gone down? Let’s hope that the Indian masses wake up to this peril, before they are devoured by the laws of nature, survival of the fittest, which is Darwin’s theory of evolution. Remember when populations increase then nature steps in to restore balance. We should not wait for that.