New Delhi: With India likely to surpass China as the most populous country in 2023, it should be seen as an opportunity to become the resource creator for the world and focus on ensuring equity as well as caring for the aging populace, experts said on Tuesday.
The world population touched eight billion on Tuesday and India was the largest contributor to the milestone, having added 177 million people, the United Nations said, noting its population growth appears to be stabilising which shows that policies and health systems are working.
For China, which added 73 million people, the projection in its contribution to the next billion in the global population is to be in the negative.
The Population Foundation of India (PFI) said the milestone should not be seen as a problem but as an opportunity for India to plan better and provide a healthy and happy life for people across the world.
“We must celebrate the day the world population reaches eight billion,” it had earlier said.
According to the United Nations’ World Population Prospects-2022, released on July 11 (World Population Day), the global population was projected to reach eight billion on November 15.
The report also stated that the global population is growing at its slowest rate since 1950, having fallen under one per cent in 2020.
“Given the fact that India is projected to become the most populous country in the world in 2023, some sections have been expressing fear that a high population would be a problem for governance.
“However, this milestone should be seen as an opportunity to plan better and provide a healthy and happy life for all eight billion of us,” the PFI said.
PFI executive director Poonam Muttreja said, “We know that population growth is stabilising across the world. While it took 12 years for the world population to grow from seven to eight billion, it will take approximately 15 years, until 2037, to reach nine billion, suggesting that population growth is slowing down.”
“We should now focus on eliminating the unmet need for contraception so that women can decide if they want to have children and if yes, when, how many and at what intervals,” she said.
There also must be a stop to creating a false dichotomy between population and limited resources, Muttreja said.
She said a skilled population is a strength and “we must see people as creators of resources”.
The obsession with numbers needs to end and the need is to start thinking of “our population as people, in line with the principles of equality and equity”, the PFI executive director said.