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The Demographics of India

The Demographics of India

India's population structure has changed dramatically since independence.

The Demographics of India

India's population structure has changed dramatically since independence. It has had a population increase (Census 1951) as well as a fall in the total fertility rate.

On the good side, numerous mortality indices have improved, but there are certain hurdles to enjoying the demographic dividend in terms of raising living conditions, providing skills and training, and creating jobs.

One of the advantages that India may have over the rest of the globe is its vast population. What is required are steps in the correct direction to fully realize the demographic dividend's potential.

Which changing demographics has India experienced throughout time?

Population Growth: 

  • According to the UN World Population Prospects (WPP), in 2022, India will surpass China as the most populated country by 2023, with a population of 140 crores. India presently accounts for 17.5% of the global population.
  • This seems to be 4 times the population of India when it gained independence in 1947. (34 crores).
  • India is expected to reach 1500 million by 2030 and 1660 million by 2050.

Fall in India's Total Fertility Rate (TFR): 

  • In 2021, India's TFR fell below the replacement level of fertility (2.1 children per woman) to two. India had a TFR of six in the 1950s, following independence.
  • Except for Bihar, UP, Jharkhand, Manipur, and Meghalaya, several states have achieved a TFR of two.

Indicators of Mortality Improvement: 

Life expectancy at birth has increased dramatically from 32 years in 1947 to 70 years in 2019.

  • Infant mortality fell from 133 in 1951 (for the major states) to 27 in 2020.
  • The under-five mortality rate declined from 250 in the 1940s to 41 in 2019, while the maternal mortality ratio fell from 2,000 in the 1940s to 103 in 2019.

What Importance Does Population Growth Have?

  • A bigger population is thought to imply more human capital, stronger economic growth, and higher living standards.
  • Increased economic activity as a result of a larger working-age population and a smaller dependent population leads to better economic growth.
  • Over the previous seven decades, the proportion of the working-age population has increased from 50% to 65%, resulting in a significant decrease in the dependence ratio (number of children and elderly person people per working-age population).
  • According to WPP 2022, India would have one of the world's biggest workforces.
  • In the next 25 years, one in every five working-age people will be in India.

What are the Barriers to Reaping the Demographic Dividend?

Issues about the Labor Force: The exclusion of women from the labor force limits India's labor force; less than one-fourth of women are employed.

  • The standard of education in the country is inadequate, and the workforce lacks the fundamental skills necessary for the modernized labor market.
  • Despite having the world's biggest population, India has one of the lowest employment rates.

Sex ratio remains unsatisfactory: Another demographic problem of independent India is the male-dominant sex ratio.

  • The nation had a sex ratio of 946 females for every 1,000 males in 1951.
  • The sex ratio in 2011 was 943 females per 1,000 males, and by 2022, it is predicted to be about 950 females per 1,000 males.
  • Even now, one in every three girls missing worldwide as a result of sex selection (both pre-and post-natal) comes from India.

Hunger: In India, every other woman of reproductive age is anaemic, and every third kid under the age of five is stunted.

  • The Global Hunger Index ranks India 101st out of 116 countries, which is quite a feat for a country that has one of the most extensive social programs for food security, including the Public Distribution System and the Midday Meals Scheme.

Health Illness Burden: In the last 75 years, the disease pattern in the nation has shifted dramatically: although India was combating communicable diseases after independence, there has been a shift toward noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which account for more than 62% of total fatalities.

  • India now has the highest illness burden in the world, with the percentage of NCDs nearly doubling during the 1990s.
  • Diabetes affects about eight crore individuals in India.
  • India alone accounts for more than a quarter of all worldwide fatalities caused by air pollution.
  • In addition, India's healthcare infrastructure is woefully insufficient and inefficient. Furthermore, India's public health funding is minimal, ranging between 1% and 1.5% of GDP, one of the lowest percentages in the world.

What should be the next step?

Attention to the Senior Population: India is now a youthful country, but its elderly population is growing and is anticipated to reach 12% by 2050.

  • As a result, early investments in the building of a comprehensive social, financial, and healthcare support system for the elderly are essential.
  • The emphasis of action should be on broad human capital investment, older persons living with dignity, and healthy population aging.
  • Steps should be done to adjust governmental programs to the rising population of older people, such as strengthening the long-term viability of social security and pension systems.

Initiatives to Strengthen Living Standards: There must be readiness in the form of appropriate infrastructure, favorable social welfare programs, and huge investment in excellent education and health.

  • To reap the full benefits of favorable age distribution, governments must engage in human capital development and encourage possibilities for productive employment and dignified labor.
  • The emphasis should not be on population control because it is not a major issue at the moment. Instead, improving one's quality of life should be the objective.

Upskill: For those people already in the 25-64 age range, skilling is the only method to assure they are more productive and have higher salaries.

Regardless of whether a child attends a rural or urban school, the public school system must guarantee that every child completes high school and is pushed into suitable skilling, training, and vocational education in accordance with market needs.

Closing Gender Gap that exists in the Workplace: New skills and opportunities for women and girls to participate in a $3 trillion economy are desperately required. This may be accomplished by:

  • Gender budgeting to analyze gender-disaggregated data and its influence on policy.
  • Increasing childcare subsidies
  • Increasing tax breaks for part-time jobs.

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