Population growth slows in India as world reaches eight billion

 The United Nations projects that India will overtake China as the most populated nation in the world in 2019.

While India was once a major contributor to the world's population boom, recent estimates suggest that the country's rate of growth has slowed significantly.

Low birthrates in the South Asian country have prompted at least one state to consider reevaluating its policy of discouraging couples from having more than two children.

The United Nations predicts that as of Tuesday, the world's population will have reached eight billion, with China and India together accounting for more than a third of that number. India has a population of 1.38 billion people, which is slightly less than China's estimated population of 1.4 billion, according to the World Bank.

The United Nations predicts that India will overtake China as the most populous nation by 2023.

But official data shows that India's yearly population growth has slowed to 1.2 percent since 2011, down from 1.7 percent in the prior decade.

Even more slowdown is to be anticipated. As reported in a government study published last month, India's total fertility rate (TFR) - children per woman - decreased to two in the latest assessment period, for 2019-2021, from 3.4 in 1992-1993.

The population can only sustain itself if the average is over 2.1 children.

The government suggests that the drop in reproduction rates may be attributable to the increased use of contraception and the increased education of females.

From 2015–16, the percentage of people who used any kind of family planning increased to 66.7 percent in 2019–2021.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) remarks shared with Reuters news agency showed that this trend boded well for the effectiveness of India's national population plans and health systems.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said that while India should prioritize its young people, it should also prepare for a demographic shift that would need it to care for a larger share of its elderly population in the future.

This is an absolute necessity at this time.

Odisha is an eastern state where the TFR fell by 21% between 2008-2010 and 2019-2021; this may have been too rapid a decline from the government's perspective.

In a June note seen by Reuters, the state's Planning and Convergence Department said, "Odisha may need to relook at the policy framework that promotes a two-child norm." The regulations do not actively prevent you from having more than two children, but they also do not encourage you to have more than two children.

Assam, a state in the northeast, continues to buck the trend due to a TFR that is higher than the national average.

In January, the government instituted a policy that disqualified anyone with more than two children from holding public office or running for local or civic bodies.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told Reuters, "This is the need of the hour to have such a legislation in place."

However, the UNFPA noted that global experience indicates that such measures have only a modest impact on fertility.

Most of these programs "have had only a marginal impact on fertility, and in some cases have been counterproductive," the UN agency said.


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