Libmonster ID: IN-1341
Author(s) of the publication: E. REMIZOVA

India today has a fast-growing economy, advanced software manufacturing, and nuclear weapons. It is becoming one of the world's leading powers. India is invited to participate in such influential forums as the G8 meetings, it is applying for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and has entered the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as an observer. A fairly strong middle class forms a promising fast-growing consumer market within the country. However, there are considerable difficulties that the country faces on the path of economic recovery. One of them is rapid population growth.

During the 20th century, the population of this country increased by 762 million people and in May 2000 passed the billion-dollar mark. If population growth continues at a similar pace, by 2045, India will overtake China and become the world's largest country by population: out of 9 billion people. earthlings 1.6 billion will reside in India. An annual population increase of 15.5 million threatens to derail government efforts to raise the standard of living of citizens and preserve the environment. Therefore, today it is extremely important for India to restrain the pace of population growth.

Demographers distinguish four phases of the so-called "demographic transition", during which population growth stabilizes. In the first phase, as a result of improvements in health systems, the mortality rate falls, which leads to an increase in the population. In the second phase, the birth rate falls, but its decline is not as rapid as the fall in the death rate, so the population growth remains. In the third phase, the birth rate becomes equal to the death rate, but population growth continues due to the fact that a large percentage of the population is of reproductive age. The fourth phase is characterized by a decrease in the proportion of the population at reproductive age and a drop in the birth rate below the death rate. Population growth is declining and stabilizing.

As a result of the development of health care, that is, during the first phase of the "demographic transition", the mortality rate in India decreased from 25.1 per thousand people in 1951 to 9.8 in 1991. At the same time, the decline in the birth rate was not so rapid - from 40.8 per thousand in 1951 to 29.5 in 1991. As a result, the annual population growth between 1960 and 1990 was more than 21. But the 2001 census showed that the percentage of population growth and the birth rate continue to decline. Thus, today India is only at the very end of the second phase. The country aims to achieve "zero population growth" by 2046.

Previously, it was intended to be resolved by 2010. Now this year is considered as a transitional one. By this time, the majority of India's population will be teenagers and young people. And if their health and education needs are met, then the death rate and birth rate should drop sharply, allowing the country to achieve its planned moderate population growth rates.

In this regard, the development of education and health systems has become a priority for the Government. This is reflected in the X Five-Year Plan (2002-2007), which sets out the goals and objectives for the country in the nearest future. In particular, it is planned to increase the literacy rate of the population from the current 60% to 75% by 2006. And reduce infant mortality (from 45/1000 births to 28/1000) and maternal mortality (from 2/1000 to 1/1000) by 2012.

The states with the largest population growth today are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Orissa. They were home to 44% of India's population in 1966 and will continue to be home to 48% in 2016.2 These states will account for 55% of the country's population growth through 2016. Whether the country as a whole will achieve "zero population growth" by 2046 largely depends on how well the birth control policy is implemented in these states.

There are three factors contributing to India's rapid population growth. The first is a large proportion of the population of reproductive age. The second is unmet contraception needs. The third is a high birth rate as a consequence of high child mortality. Despite the development of health care, the commitment to traditional views on the family, developed in conditions of high mortality, remains. Parents

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they tend to have many children, because, firstly, not all of them may live to adulthood; secondly, among the survivors, it is desirable that there should be boys who will not only support their parents in old age, but also, in accordance with Indian tradition, perform a memorial rite after death parents.


These three factors are common to all population groups, regardless of religion, caste, education, status, and income, although the depth of the problem varies from stratum to stratum. Studies conducted by the National Center for Family Health clearly show that in a family where a woman has received secondary or higher education, as a rule, there are 2 to 3 fewer children than in families where the wife is illiterate. The child mortality rate is 3 times higher in families where mothers did not receive an education.

Together with the level of family income, the percentage of women who use contraceptives also varies: from 40% among women whose families have low incomes, to 89% among women from high-income families.3 Thus, we can say that educated Indians with a high level of income contribute less to population growth than uneducated and poor Ones.

To solve the problem of population growth in the country has been tried for a long time. In 1952, India became the first country in the world to develop and implement a national family planning program aimed at stabilizing population growth at a level compatible with the requirements of the economy.

In the 1950s, birth control was carried out only in city polyclinics and hospitals. This approach to birth control has been called "clinical." It was accessible only to a narrow circle of the population-townspeople and well-to-do villagers. In the 1960s, an "extended approach"was introduced to convey the ideal of a small family to every citizen of the country-rich and poor, literate and illiterate. The symbol of this campaign is the "red triangle". It could be seen everywhere-on the doors and walls of houses, on buses and cars. The triangle was usually accompanied by posters depicting a father, mother and two children under the slogan: "2-3 children-and that's enough!" At the same time, as a means of contraception, the uterine spiral began to gain popularity. But because of the illiterate and unsafe use of the spiral, about 30% of women who used it experienced various complications. Therefore, soon interest in this method of contraception began to decrease, and the most common and, oddly enough, the most affordable method of contraception was sterilization.

In the late 60s, some states began to conduct their own campaigns to reduce population growth. For example, in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, the authorities offered financial support to anyone who underwent sterilization. In the 70s, due to the lack of an extensive health care system, it was decided to organize mobile medical clinics to serve the rural population, as well as a kind of mobile sterilization camps. During one such trip, from 15 to 60 thousand sterilizations were performed. However, these measures did not bring the desired result. The desire of rural residents to have many children has not changed, and couples who already have several children often agreed to sterilization. In addition, cases of forced sterilization were recorded. And this was announced by newspapers all over the country that were opposed to the government of Indira Gandhi.

From the 70s to the 90s, new programs were developed to stabilize population growth. But if some of them did not even reach discussion in the country's parliament (for example, this was the case with proposals for the implementation of the family program in 1977, or with the draft national demographic policy in 1997), then others encountered insurmountable obstacles in their implementation - poverty, illiteracy, lack of developed infrastructure in most states public health services.

Today, the situation is different not only in different states, but also in different areas within the same state. For

page 30

In order to make population growth reduction programs better reach the target audience, it was decided to decentralize them. The panchayats (rural self-government bodies), which are responsible for the health, family well-being and education of rural residents, were supposed to be the mainstay of local programs. In 1996, it was proposed to create a responsible committee from the members of each panchayat, which will determine the amount and type of necessary medical care in the field. It was assumed that in each state, the relevant information will be sent to specially created commissions for regulating population growth. On this basis, the authorities should identify areas where there is a critical situation with medical care and where residents need contraceptives. It is to these areas that aid should first be directed. It is assumed that funds for such programs will be allocated not only by the state, but also by non-governmental organizations and individuals. In addition, the central government will supply medicines, vaccines and contraceptives to the states.


Currently, the so-called New National Demographic Policy is implementing a plan to rapidly reduce population growth, which is aimed at meeting the population's need for contraception and reducing child mortality. The latter is largely related to the prevention of teenage pregnancy in marriages where the wife is less than 18 years old - after all, early pregnancy often leads to the birth of premature babies and infant mortality. Back in 1978, a law was passed that set the minimum age of marriage for girls at 18, but it is practically not observed. According to the 1991 census, 6.8% of married women were in the 13-19 age group, and many of them were pregnant before the age of 19. The largest number of child marriages occurs in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan.

The issue of contraception is acute. Currently, only 48% of Indian women regularly use some form of contraceptive. The choice of method of contraception often depends on the educational level of women. In states where the percentage of educated women is high - for example, in Punjab or in the union territory of Delhi-one in four Indian women uses modern methods of contraception, and the proportion of women who have resorted to the most common type of contraception in India - sterilization, does not exceed a third. In states where women's education is not widespread and information about modern contraception is almost nonexistent, sterilization remains the only way to protect against unwanted pregnancies. In the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, 96% of the total number of protected women chose sterilization as a means of contraception. Because of the irreversibility of such a procedure, women resort to it only after they give birth to 2-3 children. This happens, as a rule, in 35-39 years. The five states with the largest populations have the lowest rates of contraceptive use among both women and men: Bihar has only 25% of the population protected, Uttar Pradesh has 28%, Rajasthan has 40%, Assam has 43% and Madhya Pradesh has 44% .4

Until now, there is an opinion in Indian society that only women are responsible for family planning. A 2004 study by the International Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai found that Indians don't know much about male sterilization - vasectomy. Even many field health professionals were not sufficiently informed and continued to advise patients to use female rather than male sterilization. Most men who heard about vasectomy feared that the operation would lead to impotence and complete physical weakness. Therefore, the plan to rapidly reduce population growth includes the promotion of vasectomy and the spread of cancer.-

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dissemination of information about it through the media, as well as through local government bodies.

The current population policy in India has the following objectives: to provide the population with quality health services and contraceptives; to reduce maternal and child mortality; to immunize all children against polio, diphtheria, tuberculosis, tetanus and measles; to contain and prevent sexually transmitted diseases; to eliminate the practice of marrying girls under the age of 18; and to ensure access to primary education for children of both sexes.

The current demographic situation in India has another feature. Studies show an acute disparity in the population by gender. So, according to the latest census, in Delhi, there were only 800 women per 1000 men. To understand why this is happening, we need to look back to India's past.

The birth of a son is always a celebration for a Hindu. In traditional society, it was the son, not the daughter, who could become a support for the parents, stay with them until their death and perform the funeral rite (it is still believed that it is the son who should light the funeral pyre of the parents). A daughter was considered a burden to be married off and paid a dowry. Therefore, among the poor families who were not able to give their daughters a dowry, there was a barbaric custom of killing newborn daughters. Today, the killing of girls who were born has been replaced by the practice of abortions after ultrasound examinations. According to the Indian Medical Association, about 5 million abortions are performed annually in India due to the inappropriate sex of the child.5 On March 8, 2006, a mass rally of Indian women against the practice of killing unborn girls was held in Delhi.


Today, India is (and will remain in the near future) one of the youngest countries in the world. In 2020, the average age of Indians will be 29 years. A significant part of the working-age population can theoretically contribute to the growth of the country's economy. The problem, however, is that in India, both in the city and in the countryside, the percentage of unemployed people relative to the total working-age population is growing every year. While the number of working youth increased by 2.4% annually between 1987 and 1994, by 2004 this figure had decreased by 0.7% for rural residents and by 0.3% for urban residents.6 Along with the decline in the level of employment, the population is growing, and thus many young people remain unsettled.

The relatively large number of young people and the lack of jobs for them suggest that in 30 to 40 years, India will have to face the problem of an unsecured old age of these people. Today, there are about 77 million people over the age of 60 in the country. Of these, approximately 10% receive a pension, 24% live on savings made earlier, and 66% are near or below the poverty line.7

Insufficient employment of young people has led to the emergence of a generation that is disillusioned with life. Social protest is growing among young people, they are trying to find those responsible for the current situation and become an excellent audience for promoting the ideas of right-wing parties and organizations such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishva Hindu Parishad. These nationalist groups and organizations call on Indians to return to their roots, to the Vedas, to preserve the patriarchal way of life and religious traditions. They contrast Indian civilization with modern Western civilization, from which all the current troubles of India allegedly originate, and call for liberation from the influence of alien cultures - English and Muslim. Members of these organizations also use the demographic situation to promote their ideas.

In 2003, the book was published, which caused a great public outcry. It is called "Religious Demography of India" and was published by the Chennai Center for Political Science. The introduction to the book was written by the then Home Minister of India, Lal Krishna Advani, one of the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The authors of this paper express concern about the decline in the birth rate of Hindus and the increase in the birth rate of Muslims in India. According to them, if the proper proportions are not somehow restored, then by 2071 the country will be dominated by the Muslim population.

This book could be considered a serious work in the field of social demography, if not for the method of analyzing statistical data used in it. The data of the country's population censuses since 1951, indeed, show that in each decade the share of mu-

page 32

The Muslim population is increasing by an average of 1%8: in 1951, Muslims made up 10.43% of India's population, in 1971 - 11.2%, in 1991-12.59%, and in 2001-13.43%.

But the authors used a method that is only suitable for short-term forecasts and leads to serious errors in the long run. If we continue to argue according to their method, we can come to the absurd conclusion that by 2171 there will not be a single Hindu left in the country(!), and all the inhabitants will profess other religions. At the same time, the total population of India should be 16 billion. a person (!). This book has shown how biased policy conclusions can be drawn from demographic data.

In practice, everything is not so difficult and hopeless, as the authors of the book claim. The measures taken by the authorities to manage demographic processes are already bearing fruit. The demographic situation that is developing in India, on the one hand, poses the most difficult problems for the country, on the other hand, it gives it a chance to accelerate the development of the economy. Over the next 20 years, as long as the majority of the population will be young people, the country has the opportunity to use these huge human resources to increase gross domestic product and improve the quality of life of the population.

Indeed, experts estimate that 325 million people in India will reach working age by 2020. India will have the largest working-age population in the world, while in most developed countries this figure will decrease. According to some estimates, by 2020, the labor shortage will reach 17 million people in the United States, 10 million in China, 9 million in Japan, and 6 million in Russia. At the same time, India will have a "surplus" of $ 47 million. able-bodied citizens.

It is clear that the presence of a large population or, in economic terms, human capital in itself will not lead to economic prosperity. The state faces an important task of implementing the human resources development policy, which includes education, healthcare, and family planning. Along with this policy, economic reforms are needed, especially the creation of new jobs and measures to protect the environment.

So far, however, key indicators suggest that India's development has not kept pace with the growth of its own population. In the field of human resource development, the country ranks 127th out of 177 countries in the UN Human Development Index. Illiteracy among the adult population reaches 39%, which in absolute numbers is more than 300 million people. 25 million children are out of school, and 64% suffer from malnutrition.

The fight against poverty is traditionally one of the main directions of the Government's economic policy. The number of poor people, according to official data, reaches 26% of the population. The absolute number of poor people in India exceeds 260 million: 193 million in rural areas and 67 million in rural areas. in cities. Today, the country urgently needs new jobs. For example, China, which also faces the challenge of eliminating poverty, moves 1% of its population out of rural areas every year, creating jobs in construction and manufacturing. However, Indian economists believe that such an example is unacceptable for India due to the inflexibility of its labor market and the country's restrictions on foreign investment.

The environmental impact of population growth increases from year to year. So, the ground water level is falling. If this decline continues, the country will face an acute shortage of drinking water by 2025. About half of the country's 329 million hectares of fertile soil is damaged or in disrepair. At the same time, it is predicted that in order to provide the country's population with food, including agricultural products, it is necessary to increase its production by 3% per year.

Cities are growing rapidly. Urbanization occurs mainly due to the expansion of slums located on the outskirts. This leads to an overload of life support systems and urban infrastructure. 27% of the urban population today live without sewerage, 24% - without running water. The population of India's major cities is expected to increase by 15% by 2015. For example, Mumbai, one of the most populous cities in the world, will have a population of 26 million by 2015, compared to 18 million today.

By 2030, 72% of the population will live in cities. It is estimated that to meet the needs of India's growing urban population, it is necessary to build 3.6 million apartments per year, 66 thousand square meters. primary schools and 3 thousand polyclinics.

These are huge challenges. Nevertheless, in the next 20 years, as long as the main population of the country is represented by young people, the country has a chance to use huge human resources to dramatically increase gross domestic product and improve the quality of life of the population. To give young people confidence in the future, as well as accelerate demographic stabilization, it is important for India today to implement a comprehensive demographic, economic, and social policy.

1 Данные Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India -

2 Данные National Commission on Population (Government of India)

3 Данные National Family Health Survey, India -

4 Ibidem.

5 Data from the Indian Medical Association -

Chandrasekhar C. P. 6 Does Demography Advantage India? - Frontline, 2006, N 1.

Gomes J. E. 7 Grow Old Along with Me! The Best is Yet to Be! - The Indian Express, 2004, October 22.

Joshi A. P., Srinivas M. D. and Bajaj J. K. 8 Religious Demography of India. Centre for Policy Studies. Chennai, 2003.


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