World population day falls on 11th July every year. It has been celebrated since the establishment of the day by United Nations Development Program in 1989. This brings us to notice the trends and analysis on population to the fore.
On World Population Day this year, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) India recognises that even if health systems are understandably strained, the provision of these services cannot wait. Further delays will curtail the well-being of females, the consequences of which last a lifetime.
India is currently in a sweet spot of population demographics where half of our population is below 29 years of age. This means that for 2-3 decades, young people will drive the economy further. Even though the population in our country has reached 2.2 TFR which is close to the replacement level of 2.1, still there will be increase in population for some time. This is called population momentum.
Therefore we must make sure that the young population is healthy and gets skilled. Apart from the knowledge and capabilities the young population must be aware of their rights especially sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Due to its specific policies India has made progress in reducing maternal mortality rate(MMR). The reduction has been from 327 deaths per lakh to 113 deaths in 2016-18.
The quality of life of the youth depends on their health. Access to contraception, awareness about diseases are one of the major drivers of growth. Only when we ensure the well-being of the young population only then will they contribute efficiently to the economy.
National family health survey (NFHS-5), has shown improvement and contraception prevalence in states. This will help in providing the bodily autonomy and decision making powers to women, especially. We need to overcome social stigmas in order to give women a say regarding the size of family and when do they want to have children. This will impact half of the population of a country. We can’t ignore 48% of our population of women who can contribute a significantly to the growth of GDP.
Women are still marrying young, their nutrition while growing up is neglected, they are anaemic which impacts their early pregnancies and health in the long run. This prevalence is due to the societal norms of getting girls married soon in the name of family pride and other prejudices. The protracted issues that women face and their lagging behind in their jobs is ignored at the cost of the ‘ticking biological clock’.
India ranks 140th out of 156 countries in the global gender gap report by world economic forum. This shows the abysmally low importance that we give to gender issues. It’s high time to harness the potential of women that constitute a little less than 50% of the population. Women must be married late, they must be allowed to make informed choices. Only then can we ensure holistic growth.
Merely counting the number of people in the world is not the aim of world population day. The aim is to know where we lag behind. And how must we improve to make this world a better place. It is said that by the middle of this century the world shall reach 9.8 billion population and then there shall be a decrease in population. The already strained resources need better management. Realisation of the SDG Goals by 2030 should not be far fetched dream if we want to live sustainably.
There’s only one planet that we have to live on and we must respect the bounty of resources that nature blesses us with. Population must be the contributory factor to lessen the burden by being efficient and not the reason for its doom.