World Population Day is observed on July 11each year. This day was established by the United Nations and is dedicated to focusing on the importance of the population issues. This year the theme is, “Rights and Choices are the answer: Whether baby boom or bust, the solution to shifting fertility rates lies in prioritising the reproductive health and rights of all people.” Many scientists think estimating all available resources, the earth has a maximum carrying capacity of 9-10 billion population. The current population of the world is about 7.8 billion and if it is not controlled then by the end of the century it is estimated to rise to 10.8 billion.
There are many causes of overpopulation like high birth rate, low death rate, better medical facilities, rise in the number of immigrants, agricultural and industrial revolution and lack of family planning facilities, especially in rural areas. India has all these factors which result in overpopulation thereby causing other problems like exhaustion of natural resources, climate change, pollution, overcrowding, unemployment and many others. I will confine myself to the issue of unemployment.
Overpopulation is the root cause of all ills. Health, education, nutrition are the fundamental needs of every individual. Nowadays all these needs can be bought or acquired with money which can be generated from employment. It is not easy to get government employment for each and every body. As such there are almost 2.15 crore central and state government jobs in the whole country and the same number of jobs could be in the organised private sector.
In our country many people are employed in various un-organised sectors. Agriculture and farming is the major unorganised sector which employs almost half of the population. According to the economic survey (2018-19), 93 per cent of the total workforce of 45 crore people of India is from the unorganised sector. According to a report by a private economist, one-third of the workers in the country are daily wagers. The census of 2011 revealed that almost 22 per cent of the total population of the country was considered below the poverty line whose daily income was about Rs 142 or less.
Though the share of Indians working in agriculture is declining, it is still the main sector of employment. It was estimated that 80 per cent of the population was engaged in agriculture sector at the time of independence. In 2020 nearly a half (42%) of the workforce in India was employed in agriculture while the other half was almost evenly distributed among the two other sectors-industry and services. The types of employment in agriculture sector are for those who are unskilled in most of the cases and semi-skilled in minority of the people. Skilled and highly-skilled people are rarely interested and employed in this sector. This influx of overpopulation has fuelled disproportionate amount of competition in general in all sectors. This competition has not only given stress to the candidates but to their parents and grandparents as well. Stress of unemployment is increasing day by day due to mismatching of the merit and the desire of the individual. Happiness comes only when whatever you desire is gained.The impact of that stress is being reflected in the form of deterioration of physical and mental health of all age groups.It is estimated that 70 per cent of all diseases are caused due to stress. People are carrying many kinds of stress like non-availability of food, shelter, security, education and healthcare needs etc. In my opinion most of the Indians are under stress due to overpopulation, even those who are having one or two children- because they all have to share with others the common resources which are limited in the current scenario.
Poor quality education is compromising the quality of work hence employers are not keen to hire such poor quality candidates. In other words education and employment are interrelated. The number of seats for any employment is limited though the country is overpopulated. As people are not getting enough employment hence their mental status is not as stable as it should be. I think the number of incidents of crime are increasing day by day because of overpopulation because everybody wants to earn the money for sustenance. If an individual does not get the enough money for living from the legal means then such individuals indulge in illegal means which becomes vicious-circle to generate crime and corruption. If we want to improve the situation in the country then the government should make policies to provide the employment opportunity proportionately to the need of increasing population.
Awareness should be spread about the ill effects of overpopulation. If it is not done there will be more and more conflict to control the natural resources. The quality of employment will improve the quality of education and ultimately the quality of understanding. The people will understand the meaning and value of the fact that if one is divided by more than one, the quotient will be less than one which applies to all resources whether natural or man-made. Overpopulation is causing depletion of all our natural and manmade resources across the world. A two baby norm per couple if enacted, with preferably a girl and a boy child, is a sustainable and a very effective way of curbing the population menace and maintaining the sex ratio which will be stationary at each generation.
Overpopulation can be contained and controlled. This can be implemented only by humans.
There should be global population policy as efforts of one or few nations would not be so impactful. Depleting supply of vital non-renewable resources will be issues of future conflicts like terrorism and war. The policy makers are appealed to enact the law to curb the ever increasing population. The sooner, the better.
(A Padma Shri recipient, the writer is an orthopaedic surgeon based in Dehradun. Views expressed are personal).