India’s population was 31,60,04,000 in early forties when the present day Pakistan and Bangladesh were parts of the country. The total geographical area of our country before partition was 42,27,358 Square Kilometers. The land area was optimal to accommodate the population comfortably and its distribution was more or less even. There were enough natural resources to meet the needs of the country. It was this scenario which prompted Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation to comment “There is everything for man’s need but not for his greed”. Though the poverty, illiteracy and backwardness were very much evident, the Mahatma saw a bright future for the country considering it as a land of plenty. Much water flowed down the rivers of India since then. The country is divided at the time of Independence. Gandhiji’s dreams started shattering one by one. The simplicity which was the hallmark of Gandhiji’s philosophy became the first casualty. Self discipline in conduct and values in public life became rare commodities. Now India is the seventh largest country in the world in size, with a total geographical area of 3,287.263 square kilometers. But the population of our country was steadily increasing. Every year, India adds to world population more people than any other nation. In fact the population of some of our states is much higher than the total population of many countries. For example Population of Uttar Pradesh almost equals to the population of Brazil. India is projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous country by 2025. India’s population growth has given rise to serious concerns of widespread unemployment, social conflict and political instability. The population projections up to 2050 are:
v 2020: 1,326,093,000
v 2030: 1,460,743,000
v 2040: 1,571,715,000
v 2050: 1,656,554,000
India’s population as per 2011 census is 1,210,000,000 more than a sixth of the world’s population and it is the second largest populated country next only to China whose population is 1,330,044,605 (as of mid-2008). India is projected to be the world’s most populous country by 2025, surpassing China. India occupies 2.4% of the world’s land area but supports over 17.5% of the world’s population. India has more arable land area than any country except the United States, and more water area than any country except Canada and the United States. Indian life revolves mostly around agriculture and allied activities in small villages, where the overwhelming majority of Indians live. As per the 2001 census, 72.2% of the population lives in about 638,000 villages and the remaining 27.8% lives in more than 5,100 towns and over 380 urban agglomerations. In last 60 years the India population, has grown from 316004,000 to 1,210,000,000 almost four times, and if the population of other two parts of pre-Independence era is also taken into account the increase will be 6 times. Though the population of our country had increased abnormally, the land area remained the same and the natural resources have dwindled down drastically attributable mainly to man’s greed.
If we take the increase of the population into account the available natural resources will not be sufficient to meet even for our own needs. As foresters we know very well that every area will have its carrying capacity and if the population of human beings exceeds the carrying capacity of the area, it may give rise to several disturbances not excluding earth quakes, tsunamis, droughts, floods diseases and other natural calamities. Recent calamity in Japan is a case in point.
There is an urgent need for us to educate our masses about the perils of over-population. It is also essential for us to change our mindset on family welfare and devise ways to control population. Population is no longer an individual’s domain. It has assumed the status of “challenge” to Nation. We must be prepared to think of even punitive action in case of violation of guidelines in this regard. Population explosion cannot be taken lightly in the name of populism and firm action is the need of the hour. It is high time to shift away from the slogan “Hum do, hamara do” to adopt a new slogan “Hum do, hamara ek”. We need at least to stabilize our population urgently even if we cannot reduce it immediately. If we fail to achieve this, we may have to pay very price.. Our Governments should offer good incentives providing free education, subsidized food, clothing, and housing for all those parents who follow “Hum Do Hamar Ek”.