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As per UN and IHME Reports – 2020, India is the second-most populated country in the world with around 17.7% of the total world population residing in India. According to the 2019 revision of World Population Prospects, India’s population stood at 1,352,642,280. Both the UN and IHME Reports – 2020 have been released by the respective organizations. UN projected India to be the most populous country by 2027, replacing China which has a population of around 1.42 billion.
India’s huge population is almost always quoted as the reason for weak implementation of government schemes and welfare steps. With failure of numerous population control and family planning measures, time has come to actively analyse population data estimations and forming policies which resonates with these data.
IHME, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, is an independent global health research center at the University of Washington. IHME published a Report in The Lancent journal giving a projection of Indian population which differed significantly from the UN projections.
UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division publishes World Population Prospects. In its 2019 edition, it projected the population of India at around 1.45 billion by the end of the century, whereas, IHME Report suggests it to be 1.09 billion and claims it can be as low as 724 million.
Both Reports have a common ground when both states that India will reach its peak population by mid-century. UN estimates it to be 1.64 billion by 2050 and IHME, 1.61 billion by 2048.
The reason for this divergance is being attributed to the IHME’s excessive reliance on data regarding current contraceptive use in the National Family Health Survey (NFHS). Research at NCAER (National Council of Applied Economic Research) shows that contraceptive use in the NFHS is poorly estimated. Thus, the unmet need for contraception may be lower than that is estimated by the IHME model.
NFHS (National Family Health Survey) is a household-based survey. It is conducted by IIPS (International Institute for Population Sciences), Mumbai; ORC Macro, Maryland, USA, and The East-West Centre, Hawaii, USA. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare designates IIPS as the nodal agency responsible for providing coordination and technical guidance for the NFHS.
Total Fertility Rate (TFR), generally called Fertility Rate, of a population is the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime. Both reports show that India’s demographic future will have peaking and then a subsequent decline in population by a sharp reduction in TFR.
India, as a country, started with TFR as high as 6 in 1950’s and today, it is 2.2. IHME Report projects TFR to go as low as 1.29 by year 2100.
Ironically, the massive push for family planning and forced sterilisation during the Emeregency, barely led to a 17% decline from 5.9 in 1960 to 4.9 in 1980. However, between 1992 and 2015, it had fallen by 35%, from 3.4 to 2.2. Thus, it seems highly probable that the socio-economic transformation of India since 1990’s has played a significant role in fertility decline.
Since the 1990’s , Agriculture’s share in economy has shrunk, enrollment in school and colleges has increased, economic growth has given youth new job opportunities which in turn has resulted in an ‘Aspirational Revolution‘. This Aspirational Revolution has resulted in a sound family planning with focus on quality of life.
With the support of Health and Family welfare system, in providing contraceptives, sexual, and health services that allow individuals to have only as many children as they want, we can hasten the decline in fertility rate.
Fun Fact: With 69,944 babies, India holds the world record of babies born in a single day.