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2 Feb, 2024 14:04

India vows to tackle population growth challenges

Narendra Modi’s government has introduced a series of reforms to transform the country into a ‘developed nation’
India vows to tackle population growth challenges

The most populous country in the world will constitute a high-powered committee to consider the challenges arising from “fast population growth and demographic changes.” The move was announced as part of India’s interim budget, unveiled on Thursday, ahead of national elections later this year.

India’s finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, revealed that the proposed committee will address population-related challenges and form recommendations for the government. The initiative, she stressed, comes as part of the vision of Narendra Modi’s government, which hopes to transform the country into a developed nation by 2047.

This development comes against the backdrop of a legislative move to adopt laws to control the population. Members of Parliament belonging to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Rajendra Agrawal and Rakesh Sinha, had earlier introduced separate bills to regulate the country’s population. However, neither of them have passed.

Meanwhile, the country’s new census has been delayed for several years. The most recent demographic data available comes from the 2011 census. Although top Indian officials have expressed concern over the population boom, the fifth round of India’s National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) released in 2022 showed that female fertility levels have dipped below the replacement fertility level in all but five Indian states. Despite that, last year, India overtook China to become the most populous nation in the world, as per United Nations (UN) data.

India has the highest number of young people in the world; however, the UN, in a 2023 report, noted that by 2046, the number of older adults in the country will be greater than the number of children younger than 15 years old. In 2022, the median age in India was believed to be 28 years; this is in sharp contrast to other larger nations with significantly higher median ages.

An aging population could mean severe economic trouble for India unless the country grows its national wealth rapidly in the coming decades, an analysis in The Hindu newspaper observed last year. In December, India’s Reserve Bank updated the GDP growth projection for the current financial year to 7% compared to the previously estimated 6.5%.

Meanwhile, India remains among the top countries with high income and wealth inequality even as the share of the population living in multidimensional poverty fell from 25 to 15% between 2015-16 and 2019-21, the UNDP said in a report last year.

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