On 11th May 2000 at the Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, a new life takes its first steps into the world as a pair of cute eyes opens up to the first rays of light. It is a baby girl and the parents are ecstatic. However what distinguished Astha from the other 42,000 babies born that same day was the fact that she was the billionth Indian. Population growth has been simply out of control in India, it trebled in merely 50 years. Although, India was the first country to implement a state family planning programme, all sorts of efforts of the Indian government have been run over as more and more babies are being churned out every day. Nearly 20 million Indians are born every year; Australia’s total population is near that number. India was impoverished during the British Raj and the explosive growth in population has made matters worse. Infrastructure, food and water resources are under immense stress. By comparison, the other member in the Billion plus Clubs, China, has significantly slowed its population growth. Strict measures like the One Child policy have made it very hard to have more than baby for every Chinese couple. It’s estimated that India with a population of 1.63 billion people will overtake China in 2050 to be the world’s most populous country. This forces one to contemplate what sort of future are babies like Astha going to be looking forward to? However, I feel that if certain policies and strategies pay off, India can actually turn its population bane into a boon.
The dangers and problems of an overpopulated nation are more than obvious. Every time the economy expands, the population keeps up thus lowering the standard of living of all Indians as everyone gets less and less in absolute terms. Infrastructure is in a mess, food and water are being consumed at an astounding rate. There is not enough power, not enough roads and not enough jobs. Everything falls short in India except for the number of people.
However, I feel that having a huge labour force as India does, especially with 70% of its population below the age of 35 is a blessing in disguise. We have the most important factor of production, human capital, in abundance. That’s a very privileged position to be in. Consider countries like Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Dubai. They spend millions in trying to attract foreign talent that can drive their economies. If India can invest in education and train her workforce she’ll be a force to reckon with. I believe that if the Indian youth can stand up and make the world take notice, India can do away with her miseries in a matter of decades.
It is true that at the moment we do not have enough resources to guarantee every Indian high-quality education but that still must be the focus. Although it may sound radical, I feel that it is not wrong to encourage talented Indians to immigrate to economically developed nations. This way, the population in India can be kept in check. Moreover, the poor can receive the investments they very badly need. Most of the times, the upper class absorbs all the economic growth while very little trickles down to the pariah. Also, an international presence of intellectual and high-skilled Indians will do India lots of good. Not only will India become influential and powerful, there is the always the benefits of remittances sent home. If there is a talented engineering earning Rs. 20,000 in India why not send him to a nation short of talent? He’ll earn more and have more opportunities while the country can still benefit from him. I suppose my ideas may seem unorthodox but I feel that this is a very feasible way to address India’s problems. The government has a role to play in lobbying for lax regulations with friendly nations and promoting NRI rights. Every Indian remains Indian at heart as is captured in the Bollywood catchphrase, “Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani!”