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India’s population to overtake China’s by 2022

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New Delhi: India will overtake China as the world’s most populous nation by 2022, says a new UN report that revises its previous estimates, which had put the date around 2028.

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In 2015, India had 1.311 billion people, according to the UN’s new estimates, against China’s 1.376 billion, a difference of 65 million.

If the new projections hold good, India will continue to be far more densely populated than China. India’s population density is already more than double that of China’s, which has 141 people per square km against India’s 382 people per square km.

How the date moved from 2050 to 2022

India’s population ascendancy was first estimated to take place in 2050, then gradually lowered to 2040 and then 2030, said Prof Siva Raju, Chair of the Centre for Population, Health and Development at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai.

But the UN’s projections have changed, with China’s population growth rate decelerating much faster than India’s, which explains why India will top the world’s list in 2022.

The two giants, China and India, now have 19 percent and 18 percent of the world’s population, states the UN report released on July 29.

China’s fertility rates – the average number of children a woman can be expected to bear during her lifetime – have dropped much lower than India’s, which is why its population is growing less than India’s.

Overall, India had seen an appreciable decline in its fertility over the years to 2.48 from 5.9 in 1951, though that process was faster in China, which had a fertility rate of 6.11 in 1951. India’s higher fertility contributed to the higher population growth.

Lastly, the population growth of China in recent years was mainly due to “population momentum” (the population’s total fertility has fallen below the replacement level since the early 1990s) and this will also contribute to the population growth in India for the coming decades.

Over the last decade, from 2001-2011, India’s population grew at only 1.64 percent per year against 1.96 percent in previous decade.

Government’s estimates overwhelmed or are they?

In May, Health Minister J.P. Nadda told the Rajya Sabha that India’s population would cross China’s by 2028. He cited the UN’s 2012 Revision.

However, he defended the government’s population control measures, which lowered the decadal growth rate from 21.54 percent for 1991-2000 to 17.64 percent during 2001-11.

Some experts believe that the UN’s revised estimates are just projections, which may or may not materialize. India’s population will certainly overtake that of China’s, but the exact year could vary.

The revised estimates are a revision based on actual growth, which is different from the growth projected earlier, according to Sona Sharma, Joint Director, Advocacy & Communications of the Population Foundation of India, a Delhi-based non-governmental research group.

India wasn’t growing faster than imagined; its decadal growth rate had declined, she observed.

India’s bulge was also due to its huge population of young people in the reproductive age, which contributed to its population momentum.

China’s was a hugely mixed story, Sharma believed. It had developed at the grassroots since the 1970s by investing in education and health, unlike India.

Its fertility rates began to decline even before the imposition of the one-child policy. Most in India would find this policy undemocratic in that it deprives a family of taking its own decisions about having more than one child.

However, India’s family planning program – one of the first and biggest in the world, when launched in the 1950s – suffered a setback during the forced sterilization of women and men during the national emergency between 1975 and 1977, the 40th anniversary of which was observed in June.

The real lesson lies in social progress – Kerala shows the way

The real lesson of the discrepancy between China and India lay in the former’s better social progress indicators across all fronts, as the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Reports indicate year after year, said Sharma.

Kerala and Sri Lanka have proved exceptions in that they reached the replacement level of 2.1 (children born to a woman) even before China. All the southern states, except Karnataka, are on the same path, as IndiaSpend previously reported.

As we can see, the population in the southern states is stabilizing, even falling below replacement levels. It is the northern states, primarily, with their still-high fertility rates –although these have dropped –that continue to boost India’s population.

The world’s population projections are important because they have been released at a time when the UN’s Millennium Goals, the deadline for which was this year, are being replaced this year by the much more ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, all of which are measured by the population reached.

(IANS/IndiaSpend)

Next Story

India Aborts Launch of Spacecraft Intended to Land on Far Side of Moon

The Chandrayaan-2 mission was called off when a “technical snag” was observed in the 640-ton, 14-story rocket launcher

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India, Spacecraft, Moon
A spectator holds an Indian flag after a mission of Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-2, with the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle on board was called back because of a technical snag in Sriharikota, India, July 15, 2019. VOA

India aborted the launch Monday of a spacecraft intended to land on the far side of the moon less than an hour before liftoff.

The Chandrayaan-2 mission was called off when a “technical snag” was observed in the 640-ton, 14-story rocket launcher, Indian Space Research Organization spokesman B.R. Guruprasad said.

The countdown abruptly stopped at T-56 minutes, 24 seconds, and Guruprasad said that the agency would announce a revised launch date soon.

Chandrayaan, the word for “moon craft” in Sanskrit, is designed for a soft landing on the lunar south pole and to send a rover to explore water deposits confirmed by a previous Indian space mission.

India, Spacecraft, Moon
FILE – Indian space scientist and Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization Kailasavadivoo Sivan speaks during a press conference at the ISRO headquarters Antariksh Bhavan, in Bangalore, June 12, 2019. VOA

With nuclear-armed India poised to become the world’s fifth-largest economy, the ardently nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is eager to show off the country’s prowess in security and technology. If India did manage the soft landing, it would be only the fourth to do so after the U.S., Russia and China.

Dr. K. Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, said at a news conference last week that the estimated $140 million Chandrayaan-2 mission was the nation’s “most prestigious” to date, in part because of the technical complexities of soft landing on the lunar surface, an event he described as “15 terrifying minutes.”

After countdown commenced Sunday, Sivan visited two Hindu shrines to pray for the mission’s success.

Criticized program pays off

Also Read- Pre-term Birth Impact Baby’s Love Life in Adulthood, Says New Study

Practically since its inception in 1962, India’s space program has been criticized as inappropriate for an overpopulated, developing nation.

But decades of space research have allowed India to develop satellite communications and remote sensing technologies that are helping solve everyday problems at home, from forecasting fish migration to predicting storms and floods.

With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission this month, the world’s biggest space agencies are returning their gaze to the moon, seen as ideal testing grounds for technologies required for deep space exploration, and, with the confirmed discovery of water, as a possible pit stop along the way.

“The moon is sort of our backyard for training to go to Mars,” said Adam Steltzner, NASA’s chief engineer responsible for its 2020 mission to Mars.

India, Spacecraft, Moon
India aborted the launch Monday of a spacecraft intended to land on the far side of the moon less than an hour before liftoff. Pixabay

Seeking water on the moon

Because of repeated delays, India missed the chance to achieve the first soft landing near the lunar south pole. China’s Chang’e 4 mission landed a lander and rover there last January.

India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission orbited the moon in 2008 and helped confirm the presence of water. The Indian Space Research Organization wants its new mission’s rover to further probe the far side of the moon, where scientists believe a basin contains water-ice that could help humans do more than plant flags on future manned missions.

The U.S. is working to send a manned spacecraft to the moon’s south pole by 2024.

Also Read- Around 53% People Interested in Travelling to Space: Survey

Modi has set a deadline of 2022 for India’s first manned spaceflight. (VOA)