Population growth- Where are we headed?


A few decades ago, we were warned that a human population explosion was about to engulf the world. Exponential population growth was seen as a cause or corollary to nearly every important environmental problem. Some people still warn that the total number of humans might grow to 30 or 40 billion by the end of this century .In the succeeding years the prophecy Birth rates have fallen, however, almost everywhere, and most demographers now believe that we has held its way. The current trend means we will reach an equilibrium around 9 billion people in about 2050.In a country like India, family planning and birth control remain controversial issues. Should we focus on political and economic reforms, and hope that a demographic transition will naturally follow; or should we take more direct action to reduce births? The answer remains in a limbo.

Every year, India adds more people to the world’s population than any other country. In 2009, having added more than 185 million residents in the previous decade, India had more than 1.1 billion people. By 2050, if current growth rates persist, India will have increased its population by more than 50 percent over current levels, and will be home to around 1.63 billion residents, making it the most populous country in the world. Not only would it create more congestion but lead to a huge pressure on a comparatively smaller landmass. How will the country, which already has more than a quarter of its population living in abject poverty, feed, house, educate, and employ all those being added each year? And what’s the best way to slow this rapid growth?
India’s population has ramifications for the rest of the world as well. Currently, fewer than half of all Indian women use any form of birth control. How can this percentage be raised? On one side of this issue are those who believe that the best way to reduce the number of children born is poverty eradication and progress for women. More educated our female population are, the more they will be drawn to take up jobs and be independent. Emphasising on social justice principles established at the 1994 UN Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, some argue that responsible economic development, ca broad-minded social welfare system, education and empowerment of women, and high-quality health care—including family planning services—are essential components of population control. Unless we progress in these areas, efforts to provide contraceptives or encourage sterilization are futile.

On the other side of this debate are those who contend that, while social progress is an admirable goal, India doesn’t have the time or resources to wait for an indirect approach to population control. They presume the government to push aggressively, to reduce births now, or the population will be so huge and its use of resources so great that only mass starvation, class war, crime, disasters, and disease will be able to bring it down to a manageable size.
Unable to reach a consensus on population policy, the Indian government decided in 2000 to let each state approach the problem in its own way. Some states have chosen to focus on social justice, while others have adopted more direct, interventionist policies. The model for the social justice approach is the southern state of
For Example, Kerala, which achieved population stabilization in the mid-1980s, was the first Indian state to do so. Although still one of the poorest places in the world, economically, Kerala’s fertility rate is comparable to that of many industrialized nations, including the United States. The utmost reason being the facilities, moreover, the qualities of services being provided by the state. Both women and men have a nearly 100 percent literacy rate and share affordable and accessible health care, family planning, and educational opportunities; therefore, women have only the number of children they want, usually two. The Kerala experience suggests that increased wealth isn’t a prerequisite for zero population growth.
Of-late surgical interventions have surfaced, which requires high class facilities and equally qualified doctors. The pressure to be sterilized is overwhelmingly directed at women, for whom the procedure is major abdominal surgery. Sterilizations often are done by animal husbandry staff and carried out in government sterilization camps. This practice raises troubling memories of the 1970s for many people, when then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi suspended democracy and instituted a program of forced sterilization of poor people. As people were reportedly rounded up like cattle to be operated upon under completely unhygienic conditions. Such unethical and inhumane behaviour would certainly be not accepted in the socially active world today.
While many feminists and academics regard such policies as appallingly intrusive and coercive to women and the poor, they often have successfully reduced population growth.

Another question which arises is that how many people will be in the world a century from now? Most demographers believe that world population will stabilize sometime during the next century. The total number of humans, when we reach that equilibrium, is likely to be somewhere around 8 to 10 billion people, depending on the success of family planning programs and the multitude of other factors affecting human populations. Projections shows that world population might reach about 7 billion in 2050, and then fall back below 6 billion by 2150. The most pessimistic projection assumes a constant rate of growth to 25 billion people by 2150. To accomplish a stabilization or reduction of human populations will require substantial changes from business as usual. An encouraging sign is that worldwide contraceptive use has increased sharply in recent years. The current scenario has slowly started to raise concern and awareness alike amongst the people. About half of the world’s married couples used some family planning techniques in 2000, compared to only 10 percent 30 years earlier, but another 100 million couples say they want, but do not have access to, family planning.
The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 1 million conceptions occur daily around the world as a result of some 100 million sex acts. At least half of those conceptions are unplanned or unwanted.

But there are still places where people desire large families. Deep societal changes are often required to make family planning programs successful. Among the most important of these are
1) Improved social, educational, and economic status of women;
2) Improved status for children; acceptance of calculated choice as a valid element in life in general and infertility in particular;
3) Social security and political stability that give people the means and the confidence to plan for the future;
4) Knowledge, availability, and use of effective and acceptable means of birth control.
Whether our planet can support 9 billion—or even 6 billion— people on a long-term basis remains a vital question. If all those people try to live at a level of material comfort and affluence now enjoyed by residents of the wealthiest nations, using the old, polluting, inefficient technology that we now employ, the answer is almost certain that even 6 billion people is too many in the long run. The upcoming trend has shown positive signs and raised hopes for the betterment of the overall quality of life as well as a healthy planet. If we find more sustainable ways to live even 9 billion people could live happy, comfortable, productive lives. If we don’t find new ways to live, we probably face a crisis no matter what happens to our population size. Though it might be not too late to act, but if not begun, it will be.

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