[ Diring ]
World Population Day was recommended by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989. The day was first observed by over 90 countries on 11 July, 1990, when the population of Earth had reached 5 billion. The idea behind this commemoration was to draw focus on population issues and the importance of family planning.
As we know, Earth is home to 7.8 billion people, and its population continues to grow by about 80 million people per year. The UN estimates that it will continue to 9.8 billion by 2050. The distribution of people is, however, highly unequal. China has the largest population in the world, followed by India in the second position.
With the numbers of people on the rise every year, humans have too large an impact on the sustainability of our planet. In fact, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature, we currently need 1.6 Earths to produce all the renewable resources we need. We are exhausting the resources at a higher rate than it can be replenished, and every person living on the planet is contributing to that impact. Concerns over climate change have led to ever increasing calls for population control to mitigate our impact on the planet as global warming is directly proportionate to rising global populations.
However, in an agrarian economy like India, population control is a challenge in itself as population is seen as an asset to many. In India, more number of kids means more number of helping hands for labour work in the farms. Also, increasing mortality rates of kids due to lack of access to better healthcare facilities results in higher fertility rates for security. Further, illiteracy and lack of awareness about family planning and lack of availability of contraceptives and other birth control measures are a matter of concern as they lead to high fertility rates.
The low status of women, which results in marrying them off at an early reproductive age and other such phenomena, further contributes to higher birth rates. Also, the social and cultural preference for a male child is another factor which leads to many families having numerous kids until the preferred male child is born. This is a common phenomenon prevalent in Arunachal Pradesh, as well.
Today, we are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill-health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystem on which we depend for our wellbeing – especially the indigenous communities, whose sole livelihood depends on nature.
There is dire requirement for better approaches by our governments and other officials in order to encourage family planning in every part of the country. It is critical to note, however, that climate change will affect the demography more than demographic change will affect the climate – a thought to ponder upon. (Diring is a member of the Green Media Community.)
[ Diring ]