Population ? Boon or Bane?


Population – Boon or Bane?

News: The article is in continuation of SWP report 2023.

1. A rising population, particularly for a young country like India, creates numerous opportunities that can contribute to economic growth and social development.
2. Population is a resource as long as the country’s carrying capacity is intact.
3. Carrying capacity is not just per capita availability of natural resources, it is a dynamic concept that changes according to changing technology, and the efficiency of the production and consumption systems of a country.

What are opportunities created by rising population?
1. With 68% of the working age population in 2023, the country continues to have a Demographic window of opportunity for the next 35 years to reap an economic dividend. It can be reaped through job creation, education, skills generation.
2. A young population has unique ideas and can lead to innovation, entrepreneurship, economic growth through startups in different sectors such as healthcare, education, defence, fintech, agriculture.
3. Investments in skill development can help create a demand-driven ecosystem that addresses market needs and increases employment opportunities.
4. A larger workforce with better skills and well paid jobs is also likely to consume more which will boost the economy and contribute to overall development.
5. With more focus on women-led development, India can benefit from higher female labor force participation rates.
6. India’s rising population, combined with its position as the world’s largest democracy and a major economy, can help it become a global manufacturing hub, startup capital, and exporter of skilled manpower.

What are challenges associated with rising population?
1. India’s rising working-age population must also be followed with creation of livelihood opportunities, increased expenditure on skilling, education and healthcare.
2. India’s population is also ageing as life-expectancy is improving. This will come at a cost to government in terms of senior citizens welfare, rising pension costs and increased allocation on healthcare.
3. A study has found that India might grow old before it becomes rich. This is because of failure to realize demographic dividend due to lower focus on education, lack of skilled manpower and lack of employment opportunities.
4. There are large inter-state disparities in population and growth rates. Rising population in some States will force out-migration into States with lower population and more developed economies.
5. Large population has posed challenges to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

What is the need of the hour?
It is important that as a nation our policies, actions around Rising population are seen with an opportunity rather than as a challenge. For that we must follow following steps:
1. Focus on skill development and employment opportunities for the youth to capitalize on the demographic dividend.
2. Higher women labor force participation, promote gender equality and empower women to make decisions about life, their goals and make choices about their reproductive health.
3. Build smart and resilient cities that can absorb migration by investing in public transportation, hospitals, schools and sanitation systems.
4. Improve access to quality healthcare services, particularly for woman and children.
5. Lastly, basic awareness around topics of family planning and reproductive health of women can go a long way to address rising population. 

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