Population explosion is the most serious problem facing our country today. With 16 per cent of the world’s population, India is toady the second largest populations’ country in the world. As on March 1.1991, when the last census was conducted, the country’s population stood at 846.30 million, with 439.23 males and 407.07 females. The country’s population is currently estimated at about 950 millions. The population growth has been extremely rapid in the last 50 years. The phenomenal growth is now more appropriately termed as “population explosion”.
The phenomenal growth rate in population is largely because of the industrial and technological revolutions that had taken place in the recent times. The new technologies have not only brought down the death rate because of the vastly improved Medicare resulting in increased life expectancies, but had also facilitated increased food production to take care of food needs of the increasing population.
Though population explosion is a major problem being faced by several other countries too, with the world population estimated to reach 7 billion by the beginning of the 21st century, the problem is much more severe in India because of the increasing pressure on the limited resources of the country. With the growth of food grains not keeping pace with the increase in population during some years because of the unfavourable weather conditions, the specter of hunger hunts millions of households in the country.
Even when the country is fortunate enough to have a bumper crop, these hungry households do not have the economic strength or purchasing power to buy the required food grains. The phenomenal population growth exerts immense pressure on other basic necessities like education, health, housing, clothing, employment opportunities etc.
With employment opportunities in the rural areas becoming scarce, population explosion is resulting in increasing migration of rural poor to the urban areas in search of jobs. The increasing pressure on the urban areas is giving rise to more number of slums and this is multiplying the problems in the urban areas as health is the first casualty in slums.
To check ill-effects of population growth on the socio-economic front, the Indian government had lunched the Family Planning Programme in 1951. This was later rechristened as the Family Welfare Programme. This programme promotes on a voluntary basis, responsible Planned Parenthood, through independent choice of family planning methods best suited to the people.
Though the Family Welfare Programme has resulted in significant declines in death rates and infant mortality besides almost doubling life expectancy, a lot more needs to be done if the population explosion is to be effectively checked. For this, we have to improve the literacy rate, female education and the socio-economic status of the families as population growth is directly linked to these factors. The fact that Kerala could make a lot of progress in checking population growth testifies to the impact of literacy on population explosion.
The government should also intensify its efforts to educate the people on the adverse effects of population explosion. The population explosion can be effectively checked only when the people are inclined towards smaller families. With increasing literacy rate and improved socio-economic status, the people can be educated to adopt a favorable attitude towards smaller families. When this happens, the population explosion can be checked.