So, India will be the world’s most populous nation by July 1. Frankly, India may have ‘achieved’ this rare ‘distinction’ months back and we never knew, because the 2021 census, put off due to the Coronavirus pandemic, has not happened. We are still in the 2011 census mindset, and that is not a good thing.
So what have we ‘achieved’ really? Some people have been applauding this as some manner of ‘success’ and this eludes all right thinking people. This talk about ‘demographic dividend’, something we have been listening to for so long, has paid nothing. If anything, it has only taken from us our minimum income, our competitive edge, our peace of mind. India’s land mass, a third the size of China’s, packs more than the population of China: that is not something to cheer about. Even a child will know this, yet some economists see a silver lining. Good luck to them, but we seem pretty much doomed.
Let us be frank, it is not just about providing jobs to all, we also need to feed the over 1.4 billion hungry mouths. And most of them can’t afford the high prices of today. Child mortality is reaching sub-Saharan levels in rural India, and that is not a good sign. Something spectacular, almost a miracle, needs to happen if we want to get out of this. Our cover story in this issue tells you all about the problem.
Family planning efforts in India are too lightly handled, it being too sensitive for some. There needs to be a strong hand dealing in this. We have to find a way out; we must find a way out. This needs urgent planning and urgent action. As of now such urgency has not been noticed at any level of government.
It is time we got serious. The situation is already critical, let us not turn it into a ticking time bomb.