India projected to become world’s most populated country
By Indira Guerrero
New Delhi, Feb 11 (EFE).- The fertility rate, a reversal in sex radius, and a larger percentage of young population, is accelerating population growth in India, which is already projected to become the world’s most populated country.
Although a population census has not been conducted in India since 2011, based on the United Nations’ data, several estimates put India’s population at more than 1.423 billion, surpassing China, which has been the world’s most populated country since 1950.
A report released by American think tank, Pew Research Center, this week notes that, according to the UN’s “medium variant” projection, India’s population will exceed 1.5 billion by 2030 and continue to grow until 2064, when it will peak at 1.7 billion.
Even in a “low variant” scenario, with a birth rate of 0.5 below that of the medium variant scenario, India’s population will not decline until 2047.
In the “high variant” scenario, in which the total fertility rate is projected to be 0.5 births above that of the medium variant scenario, the country’s population would exceed 2 billion by 2068, the report says.
Since 1950, when the UN began tracking global populations, India’s population has grown by more than 1 billion people, more than Europe’s total population.
It continues to increase, unlike China, which for the first time in decades has begun to show negative growth.
According to the 1941 census, India had about 360 million inhabitants, meaning that the nation has nearly quadrupled its population since gaining independence from the British in 1947.
Unlike China, India’s population growth could also mean more poverty, unemployment, sanitation problems, and the need for development.
These effects were felt during the coronavirus pandemic, with the rapid spread of the virus among its population of 1.4 billion, and insufficient hospitals and resources to cater to the entire population.
For the executive-director of the Population Foundation of India, Poonam Muttreja, the scenario “calls for a paradigm shift to reach those who have been traditionally excluded from our development agenda – notably those women who continue to have more children than they wish to have and, more broadly, the vast majority of women, not just the poor, who lack the autonomy over their own bodies to make choices about marriage and reproduction.”
Speculation about the implementation of strict reproductive controls has to end, according to the expert, who argued against the need for coercive family planning policies, to which she attributed the population crisis in China.
The Pew Research Center’s report also indicates that unlike the world’s other two most populated countries, China and the United States, which have rapidly aging populations, more than 40 percent of Indians are under the age of 25.
“In fact, there are so many Indians in this age group that roughly one-in-five people globally who are under the age of 25 live in India,” it says. “The country’s median age is 28. By comparison, the median age is 38 in the United States and 39 in China.”
This young population has “huge potential” to contribute to the country’s economy, but given the inequalities, poverty, and other social issues, it is imperative “to invest in health, nutrition, education, skilling and employability for the large young population in a time-bound manner before the window of opportunity closes” Muttreja said.
According to Pew Research Center, Indians aged 65 years or older make up only 7 percent of the country’s population. That proportion is likely to remain below 20 percent until 2063 and not approach 30 percent until 2100.
Meanwhile, the UN’s estimate for the global average forecasts that people aged 65 and over will increase from 9.3 percent in 2020 to 16 percent in 2050. EFE