World Population Day is observed on July 11 every year. It is about time we must acknowledge the fact that population is a resource and not a liability. It is a popular misconception that population has crossed the optimum limit in India and therefore population control is the only way to achieve economic and human development.
To know how densely a country is populated, we must study the figure of population density and not just the number of population. Population density is calculated by dividing the population by the area.
According to 2011 census, the population density of India is 382 per square kilometre but it is as high as 488 per square kilometre in the Netherlands. Now, if we compare the Human Development Index rank of these two countries, we will see that India is stuck at the HDI rank of 131st but the Netherlands is at the enviable 7th position. While we have achieved only 74.4 per cent of literacy, the Netherlands has got 99 per cent. There is also big difference of life expectancy between these two countries as India’s life expectancy stands at 64.7 years whereas it is 80.2 in the Netherlands.
We must remember that population is a human resource so it is an asset and not a liability. As a matter of fact, China’s huge population (1,349,585,838) is one of the reasons of its astounding economic success whereas very thin population makes it difficult for countries like Sierra Leon (5,612,685) to move upwards from its abysmal 179 HDI rank.
Recently, the government of India has come out with a study that says two-third of food to feed 600 million poor Indians is lost as hungry millions do not have enough purchasing power to buy the same. Indeed, we have enough food to feed our people. But we do not have the employment bridge that can take the food to hungry mouths. As a result, while astronomical amount of food items are left to rot; 48.2 million children in India are facing hunger, malnutrition and stunted growth.
Sujit De, Kolkata