Population Growth Committee: Move Beyond Emergency-Era Fears


04:32 AM

1 min read
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Why in News?

  • While presenting the 2024 budget, Finance Minister promised a committee to study India’s population growth to ensure that the nation is on target to meet the Viksit Bharat goal by 2047.
  • Considering the brutal population control measures implemented in 1976, this announcement prompts hopes for a nuanced and progressive discourse on India's demographic transformation.

An Assessment of India’s Current Population Dynamics

  • Declining Fertility Rates
    • India is and will remain the world’s most populous nation for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, it does not appear to be the fearsome prospect it once appeared to be.
    • The steady decline in fertility rates is leading to a scenario where two parents are now being replaced by two children.
    • This decline is a positive development and a sign of societal adoption of family planning practices, indicating a level of control over population growth.
  • Economic Growth Amid Population Growth
    • India has successfully managed to sustain economic growth despite a growing population.
    • This highlights a departure from the earlier perception that population growth could hinder economic development and it indicates an adaptive capacity in India's economic policies.
  • Adaptation Challenges
    • Despite the positive aspects, India has yet to fully adapt to the changes brought about by demographic transformation.
    • This sets the stage for the hope that the committee will play a crucial role in reshaping policies to address new challenges arising from demographic changes.
    • Moreover, the emphasis is on forward-looking strategies rather than relying on outdated narratives like the ‘population bomb.’

Priorities that the Committee Should Focus on to Address Demographic Challenges

  • Investment in Continued Skill Upgradation for the Workforce
    • India’s demographic destiny for 2047 has already been written and the workforce of 2047 has already been born and will look very different from the workforce of 2024.
    • Today 33 per cent of the population is aged 20-29, while 23 per cent of the population is aged 40-59.
    • But in 2047, the proportion of the younger population will decrease, and the proportion of older working ages will increase, with each forming about 28 per cent of the population.
    • To ensure that this growing proportion of middle-aged workers can keep up with the changing demands of an increasingly technologically driven economy, India must invest in continued skill upgradation and on-the-job training above and beyond formal education.
  • Address Regional Disparities and Allocation of Inter-State Funds
    • All of India will not undergo demographic changes at the same pace, just as fertility decline first emerged in southern, more developed states, population aging will also be most visible in these states.
    • Dependency burden, defined as the number of individuals ages 15-59 supporting children under 15 and older population above 60, will vary dramatically between states.
      • For example, in Bihar, 44 working-age adults supported 100 dependents in 2021, while in Tamil Nadu, 50 adults supported the same population.
      • This will flip with the worker-to-dependent ratio changing to 47 in Bihar and 24 in Tamil Nadu by 2051.
    • The future of India’s elderly and children will rest on workers’ productivity in states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh.
    • To invest in the workers in these states to ensure the future welfare of all Indians will be the challenge that the newly formed 16th Finance Commission will face as it decides on inter-state allocations.
  • Utilising the Gender Dividend
    • As fertility declines, the burden of child care for women will drop. An analysis of National Family Health Survey data shows that in 1993, an average woman spent about 14 years caring for children under age five.
    • This number dropped to eight years in 2021, however, time freed up from childcare has not been utilised in increased participation in the workforce.
    • There is a need to find ways of creating a welcoming labour market for women as it will provide an opportunity of turning a demographic dividend into a gender dividend.
      • One of the best ways of expanding women’s ability to participate in the job market may be to improve the availability of childcare, possibly through creative combinations of Anganwadi and the MGNREGS.
      • MGNREGA works must include rotational provision of childcare under the supervision of a trained early childhood educator.
  • Work on Creating a Self-Sustaining Elderly Population
    • A combination of rising numbers of elderly and a declining number of children to care for them means the government must increase the ability of this older population to be self-sustaining.
    • A combination of policies will be needed, including rising retirement age, enhanced old age pension schemes, and increased ability to sell land or homes, assets in which most of the wealth of the Indian elderly resides.

Way Forward

  • Need to Move Beyond the Fear of Population Bomb
    • Historically, the population dialogue in India has been dominated by concerns about population explosion.
    • However, it is time for us to move beyond the Emergency era fears and adapt to challenges.
  • Lessons from China
    • In its quest for rapid population control, China implemented a strict one-child policy, bringing it to a demographic cliff.
    • China has reached a point where the needs of its aging population have begun to drag down its economic growth. Relaxing the one-child limitation has been unsuccessful in increasing fertility.
    • This suggests that India should refrain from a similar panicked reaction and let fertility decline continue at a natural pace. If demography is destiny, India should adapt to it with grace. 


  • India stands at a critical juncture in its demographic trajectory and the Finance Minister's commitment to studying population growth and the formation of a high-powered committee signal a departure from past approaches.
  • Addressing the multifaceted challenges of demographic transformation requires collaboration among demographers, economists, sociologists, and public policy experts.
  • The insights from this committee, coupled with the 16th Finance Commission's recommendations, are poised to shape government spending priorities and guide India toward a future where demographic challenges are met with strategic and inclusive solutions.

Q1)  What is CMIE?

CMIE, or Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, is a leading business information company. It was established in 1976, primarily as an independent think tank. Today, CMIE has a presence over the entire information food-chain - from large scale primary data collection and information product development through analytics and forecasting. It provides services to the entire spectrum of business information consumers including governments, academia, financial markets, business enterprises, professionals and media.

Q2) What is the demographic dividend?

Demographic Dividend meaning – It is the potential for economic gains when the share of the working-age population (15 years – 64 years) is higher than the non-working age group. Demographic dividend occurs when the proportion of working people in the total population is high because this indicates that more people have the potential to be productive and contribute to growth of the economy.

Source: The Indian Express