Charting a Path for the Population Committee


02:31 AM

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Why in News?

  • The announcement of a high-powered committee in the interim Budget to address the challenges arising from rapid population growth and demographic changes marks a groundbreaking initiative.
  • With a broad mandate aligned with the goal of 'Viksit Bharat,' this committee is anticipated to formulate policies and strategies crucial for managing population growth in India.
  • Therefore, it is important to understand the multifaceted aspects of India's demographic landscape to achieve inclusive and sustainable development.

India’s Demographic Landscape: Demographic Shifts and Projections

  • Decline in Fertility Rates
    • Historically, India experienced rapid population growth until the 1970s. However, a significant turning point emerged with a visible decline in fertility rates.
    • The Total Fertility Rate (TFR), a critical metric reflecting the average number of children per woman, has witnessed a notable reduction from 2.5 in 2009-11 to a projected 1.73 in 2031-35.
    • This downward trend signals a demographic transition influenced by factors such as increased urbanisation, enhanced educational opportunities, and evolving societal norms.
  • Changing Reproductive Behaviour
    • The diminishing fertility rates can be attributed to a transformation in women's reproductive behaviour.
    • With women opting to have fewer children, there is a consequential impact on the overall demographic landscape.
    • Contributing factors include greater access to education, career opportunities, and changing perceptions about family size.
    • This shift reflects not only individual choices but also broader societal changes influencing family planning practices.
  • Demographic Dividend
    • Simultaneously, the working-age population in India is on the rise, presenting a demographic dividend.
    • This demographic configuration, characterised by a higher concentration of individuals in the productive age group, creates opportunities for accelerated economic growth.
    • As the proportion of the child population decreases, and the working-age population increases, there is potential for increased productivity, innovation, and economic output.
    • This demographic dividend, if effectively harnessed, can be a driving force for India's socio-economic development.
  • Aging Population
    • While the working-age population grows, there is also a steady rise in the elderly population, contributing to the overall aging demographicand this presents a dual challenge and opportunity.
    • Challenges include addressing healthcare and social support needs for the elderly, while the opportunity lies in leveraging the wisdom and experience of this segment for societal benefit.
  • Population Projections
    • According to the latest projections by the United Nations, India's population is anticipated to reach 1.46 billion by 2030, constituting a substantial 17% of the world's projected population.
    • This underscores India's significant demographic presence on the global stage.
    • Although the population is still growing, the growth rates have slowed, signifying a maturing demographic profile.

Multifaceted Challenges Associated with India’s Demographic Landscape

  • Access to Quality Healthcare
    • Despite commendable progress in certain healthcare indicators, ensuring universal access to quality healthcare remains a challenge in India.
    • Public spending on health hovering around 1% of GDP underscores the need for a significant boost in resources.
    • Initiatives to strengthen primary healthcare, particularly in rural areas, have shown positive results in child and maternal health, leading to higher life expectancies.
    • However, persistent challenges, such as nutritional deprivation among children, demand concerted efforts.
    • Addressing these challenges requires targeted interventions, including access to essential commodities, nutrition programs, and improvements in water availability and sanitation.
  • Education and Skill Development Challenges
    • Investments in education and skill development are crucial components for harnessing India's demographic dividend.
    • The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have further highlighted the challenges in this domain.For example, over 250 million children forced out of school during the pandemic have caused significant setbacks in learning outcomes.
    • UNICEF projects that nearly 47% of Indian youth may lack the necessary education and skills for employment by 2030.
    • Bridging this gap requires increased investment in nutrition, early childhood education, and the inclusion of pre-primary education in the Right to Education Act.
    • Additionally, efforts to align skill development initiatives with industry requirements are essential to reduce unemployment and enhance productivity.
  • Gender Disparities in Employment
    • Ensuring inclusive and sustainable development also involves addressing gender disparities in the workforce.
    • Empowering the female labour force and increasing their participation rate is vital for maximising the demographic potential.
    • Efforts should focus on creating new job opportunities, integrating the informal sector with the formal sector, and dismantling barriers that hinder women's access to employment.
    • Achieving gender parity in the workforce is not only a matter of social justice but also a strategic imperative for economic growth.
  • Evidence-Based Decision Making
    • A critical challenge for evidence-based policy is the availability of accurate and timely data.
    • India faces significant challenges regarding the non-availability of current and reliable data on its population, which hampers evidence-based policymaking.
    • It is crucial that the population committee includes improvements in data collection methodologies, technology adoption, capacity building, and collaboration with stakeholders. 

Necessary Measures to Enhance the Reliability and Accessibility of Demographic Data

  • Need for A Comprehensive Framework for Data Collection on Population
    • India needs to invest in modernising its data infrastructure, which includes establishing robust systems for data collection, management, and analysis.
    • This involves upgrading data collection methods, adopting digital technologies for data processing, and ensuring data security and privacy.
    • Regular and comprehensive national censuses and surveys are crucial for collecting demographic data.
    • India should prioritise the timely and accurate execution of these initiatives, ensuring coverage of all population segments, including marginalised and hard-to-reach populations.
  • Implementation of Audits and Quality Check
    • Implementing rigorous validation and quality assurance mechanisms is essential to ensure the reliability and accuracy of population data.
    • Independent audits, data validation exercises, and peer review processes can help identify and rectify data errors and inconsistencies.
    • It would be vital for the committee to explore the feasibility of including such quality assurance methods within the statistical system.
  • Open Data Sharing Mechanism
    • Another promising area is the promotion of open data initiatives and transparency in data sharing, which can facilitate access to population data for researchers, policymakers, and the public.
    • Making population data freely available in standardised formats promotes data reuse, transparency, and accountability.
    • International Collaboration: Collaboration with international organisations such as the United Nations Population Division, World Bank, and academic institutions can provide access to global best practices, technical expertise, etc. 


  • India’s demographic landscape presents both opportunities and challenges for the country’s socio-economic development.
  • Through rigorous research, data analysis, and a monitoring of demographic trends, the committee should identify emerging issues and evaluate the effectiveness of existing interventions.
  • India can realise its demographic potential and achieve inclusive and sustainable development by
  • Adopting a holistic approach to population management,
  • Prioritising investments in health, education, employment, and statistical systems; and
  • Promoting gender equality and social inclusion.

Q1) What is the demographic dividend?

Demographic dividend refers to a period in a country's demographic transition when the proportion of the working-age population (typically ages 15 to 64) is larger than the dependent population (young children and elderly). This situation occurs as a result of declining birth rates and decreasing mortality rates.

Q2) How do demographic trends vary between developed and developing nations, and what implications do these differences have on global economies?

Demographic trends between developed and developing nations exhibit variations, with developed countries often experiencing ageing populations and lower birth rates, while developing nations may have younger populations and higher birth rates. These differences have significant implications for global economies. Developed nations may face challenges related to an ageing workforce and increased healthcare costs, while developing nations have the potential to leverage a demographic dividend with a younger, growing workforce. Balancing these demographic dynamics is crucial for sustainable economic development and global stability.

Source: The Hindu