Overpopulation causing depletion of natural, man-made resources

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Overpopulation causing depletion of natural, man-made resources

Monday, 19 August 2019 | Dr BKS Sanjay

Population in India is rising at the alarming rate. Overpopulation in India is an urgent and important issue. Indians are living with the bursting overpopulation bomb.

The issue of the overpopulation in India was also addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his 73rd Independence Day speech from the Red Fort in the national capital.

The Prime Minister urged the citizens to understand the importance of birth control in the nation. Modi said that population explosion in the country will create various problems for the coming generations. There is need of social awareness in the country. This article is a small initiative to emphasise the impact of overpopulation in India.

Human resource is the biggest asset but it is becoming a liability for the nation. According to 1941 census of India, the population of India was nearly 31 crore. It was estimated to be 33 crore in 1947 after the partition and has increased almost four times since independence. The current population is estimated to be 135 crore.

The land surface area of Indian land is 2.4 per cent of the world but the Indian population is 18 per cent of the world population. India is the second most populous nation of the world after China. If we compare the current Indian population with combined population of G7 countries which are most developed and rich countries, then Indian population is twice their population. Indian population is almost equal to total population of whole north, south and central American countries.

If the causes of over population in India are broadly analysed then the first cause is increasing birth rate and decreasing death rate. With the advent of medical technology we could reduce the death rate but we could not control the birth rate at the same pace.

Main causes of overpopulation are illiteracy and poverty. According to UN reports, one-fifth of Indians are living below poverty line and almost one fourth of the Indians are illiterate even after 72 years of independence.

Irrespective of the caste, creed, religion and region, in general, the preference for male child is dominant in India. Under the influence of parents and grandparents, the younger couple has to have male child even if they have many female children. Religion plays an important role in shaping the mindset. Followers of a particular religion considers that a baby is a gift from god hence they do not use any means of birth control. The population of Muslims has risen from nine per cent of the total population in 1941 to 15 per cent in 2019. The other cause of overpopulation is hot climate which is supposed to be a cause of increased fertility. The trend of early marriage is still existing in India which prolongs the reproductive period in women.

The overpopulation has ill impact on the growth of the society and nation as well. The ill effect of overpopulation is being seen in the form of increasing trend of unemployment, overcrowding on infrastructure and depletion of the natural and man-made resources. Overpopulation is making India a more competitive society and the trend of the competition is visible in every field which is the root cause of stress. Stress has been blamed for almost 70 per cent of the diseases. Diabetes, hypertension, stroke, cardiac problem, insomnia and hormonal disturbance are somehow caused due to stress. Overpopulation is indirectly increasing the poverty and illiteracy. Illiteracy and poverty are interrelated. Illiteracy is causing poverty and poverty is causing illiteracy. It is a vicious cycle.

As on July 5, 2019 the world human population was estimated to be 7.717 billion while most contemporary estimate of the earth’s carrying capacity is 4-18 billion. Though the country is developing and the current GDP is growing at between seven to eight per cent, the pace of the growth of the infrastructure especially in the fields of education, health, food and housing is not keeping with the pace of the growth of current population which is approximately 135 crore.

The modern automation is also threatening the rate of employment. But overpopulation is playing havoc on employment. Increased demand for resources is also another major issue. Even if you have the money, can you easily buy fresh air, clean water and healthy food on demand supply ratio principle in overcrowded or an overpopulated area?

During world war, richest countries like Britain which import food from overseas had to resort for food rationing. We should understand that most of the problems on our planet are due to either mal-distribution or depletion of the resource.

Overpopulation is the main cause of contamination of air, water and food which are vital for all living creatures. The overpopulation is fuelling climate change and the climate change is ultimately affecting not only the longevity and existence of the human beings but of every creature on the planet.

 The natural resources like land and drinking water are also limited. Only one per cent fresh water is easily available and only 0.007 per cent of water is available for current seven billion world population. According to a NASA report, India is having serious decline of fresh water due to overuse of water resources for its agricultural and industrial demands. None of the cities in the country has 24 hour drinking water supply. The situation of water supply becomes worse in summer season all over the country. The production of the food is increasing consistently but still it is not keeping pace with the growth of population.

Any effort to improve the infrastructure or to increase food production are unable to meet the needs of the present population, then how can it work for the future population which is increasing at the pace of 1.2 per cent yearly? In a few years, India will be the most populous nation. 

 Overpopulation is depleting the natural and man-made resources. A message is to be spread to the society that if one is divided by more than one, the dividend will be less than one (1/>1=<1). This point is to be emphasised to the general population that we should act and use science and technology to reduce the birth rate.

The sooner the better. Even with any advancement in science and medical technology, we cannot stop death but can stop birth to change the demography of the nation. If at all something is to be done towards the control of the population, then by any means the birth rate has to be decreased and there should be a mass movement for this. Means of birth control like role of child marriage, use of contraceptive aids, birth spacing are to be known and contraceptive aids should be made available free of cost for all reproductive bearing age group people. The easiest and simple way to control the population is to give free, similar and quality education and health to all irrespective of the caste, creed, class, religion and region.

(The author is an orthopaedic and spine surgeon, and the founding president of State Chapter of Indian Orthopaedic Association)

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