Population Study of India


BASIC STATISTICS

India is home to more than one billion people (Press Information Bureau Government of India) and only covers a land area one third the size of the United States (Page not found). The annual population growth rate for the nation is one point fifty-five percent (www.cia.gov). This figure may seem somewhat small when comparing it to other South Central Asian countries such as Bhutan with a three point one percent increase (2001 World Population Data Sheet), but when considering the already massive population on a sub-continent a third of the size of the US it becomes a massive issue. I had difficulty finding an exact figure for annual population increase or decrease. The crude birth rate is twenty four point twenty-eight (www.cia.gov). The death rate is eight point seventy-four percent (www.cia.gov). There is an obvious gap between the number of people being born and those who are dying. With the population being added at such a fast rate without an equally natural decrease, problems arise of how to feed, care for (medically), house, educate, and provide jobs for this increasing number of people. On the other hand, the migration rate is negative point zero eight (www.cia.gov). This indicates all growth is from the imbalance in birth and death rates and not due to outsiders migrating in. There is nothing in India as far as job availability, or living conditions that serve as a pull for people to migrate in. The bulk, sixty-two percent, of the economy depends on agriculture with industry coming second (Page not found). This dependence on agriculture is reflected in the high percent of the population who lives in rural areas. Thirty-two percent of the population live in urban areas while sixty-eight percent live in rural areas (Page not found). India lags far behind several of the South Central Asian countries in urban population such as Iran with a sixty four percent urban population (2001 World Population Data Sheet).

India follows the Demographic Transition Model for Third World nations. Instead of the birth rate declining in stage two, there is an increase due to better health care, decline in disease, and better food supply, but there is little in the way of contraceptive practices or education on "family planning." Women are restricted by several factors such as tradition, Hindu tradition, and male dominance. Therefore the population increases instead of decreasing as is found in the traditional Transition Model. India is in the place in the Transition Model where fertility is beginning to decrease as there is more education available to women concerning fertility.

MALTHUS OR MARX?


I think India follows in the lines of Malthusian theory. In stage one of India's development, the death rate fluctuated with the presence and absence of disease, availability of food, war and other factors while the birth rate remained somewhat steady. It appears that environmental factors had the greatest affects on population growth. For example, today as we see an increase in fertility education among the women, we are beginning to see a decrease in the birth rate. India demonstrates that Marx was not accurate in saying that the economic system determines population although it may be a factor.

INFANT MORTALITY


The infant mortality rate for India is sixty-three point nineteen deaths per one thousand live births (Home - Population Reference Bureau). I was not able to find the infant mortality for individual groups despite my searches on the internet. The life expectancy is sixty two point eight years. It is slightly higher for females at sixty-three point fifty-three years compared to men at sixty-two point twenty-two years (Home - Population Reference Bureau). It appears that the life expectancy is increasing while the infant mortality is beginning to decrease.

BIRTH RATES


The crude birth rate is twenty-four point eight percent and continues to go down consistently each year (mohfw.nic.in/fshpindi.htm). The crude birth rate for rural India was somewhat higher at twenty-seven point six while the urban was twenty point eight (mohfw.nic.in/fshpindi.htm). The total fertility rate is three point two (Home - Population Reference Bureau). This seems small when compared to Saudi Arabia with a total fertility rate of five point seven or Afganistan's six (2001 World Population Data Sheet). It appears somewhat high when compared with Eastern European Countries with an average of one point two (2001 World Population Data Sheet). I was unable to determine the non-marital birth rate (maybe because most of the women are married! See the first section) nor the teenage birth rate. I looked at contraceptive use as a factor that influences fertility. I found that forty-eight percent of married women in India use contraception and of those forty-three percent use modern contraceptive methods (mohfw.nic.in/fshpindi.htm). This undoubtedly has played a key role in the decrease in fertility. As women in India are made more aware of contraception and as availability increases, the decline in fertility will continue to increase.

INTERMEDIATE VARIABLES


After looking at the data on fertility, especially birth rates, I wanted to examine some of the intermediate variables and their impact on the society. My data came from the World Value Survey. To measure attitudes about sexual freedom and satisfaction in a relationship (which could lead to greater fertility), I looked at the question, "If someone said that individuals should have the chance to enjoy complete sexual freedom without being restricted, would you tend to agree or disagree?" and found that eighty-six percent disagreed. Personal enjoyment and freedom in a sexual relationship was not important to Indians. Sexual attitudes seem to be the same between the races. Over half (fifty-five percent) of respondents answered positively to the question, "Do (did) you and your partner share sexual attitudes?" I am a little skeptical that women answered this question honestly and not how they were "supposed" to. But, then again, maybe this is an accurate finding. I also wanted to examine how and if women's rights and attitudes towards women were advancing. When asked, "Do you approve or disapprove of the women's movement?" ninety point one percent strongly approved or approved. Although surprising, this could possibly be the biggest factor in decreasing fertility in India. With the Women's Movement comes education, education on contraceptive use and family planning, job training and admittance into more professions which all lead to decreased fertility by lowering the number of unplanned pregnancies. While looking at the acceptance of the Women's Movement, I decided to look at the acceptance of abortion (which is legal) and found that for all situations, the majority of the population approves of abortion. I tend to think that this piggy-backs the Women's Movement. From these data, I gather that India is beginning to make some changes towards women, their roles in society, and sexual practices (contraceptive use) all of which have and are affecting the fertility rate.

MIGRATION RATES


Historically, migration has been very important in India. In the second millennium B. C., some of the first tribes began migrating from the northwest into the Ganges River Valley. By the tenth and eleventh centuries, Turks and Afghans began invading and established sultanates in Delhi. The centuries following were full of invasions, establishments of dynasties and empires. All of this moved the people further into the Indian Sub-continent. The most impacting migration was that of the British in 1619. The British opened the East India Company which served as a mechanism to dominate and control the people. By the 1850s, Britain controlled all of present day India. This domination was key in the lack of development in India. It benefitted the British for India to remain agricultural and producing raw materials to be exported to the core powers. It did not benefit Britain for India to industrialize and become independent and therefore the nation has lagged behind in industrialization as well as basic democratic rights/freedoms such as good education, good working conditions, enough jobs for the people and enough food to go around. It was not until the late 1800s that steps were made towards self-government in India. This has made a tremendous impact on where the nation is right now. This accounts for much of the poverty, high infant mortality rate, low life expectancy rate, and high agricultural dependence. (The history has come from Page not found.)

The migration rate of India is negative point zero eight as I mentioned before. There is not much in the way of drawing people into India as far as jobs, education, or standard of living. There are, however, things drawing people out of India. India faces brain drain where people move to other nations, such as the United States, to be usually educated as doctors, and end up staying in that nation instead of returning home where they are desperately needed. This creates a tension in that India is left with mediocre doctors while their best and brightest have gone elsewhere in pursuit of a better life. I was unable to obtain any specific information on migration patterns in India, but from what I have read and researched I have given you my best analysis.

AGING ISSUES


Although it is important to look at age and sex together, it is also important to study age issues by themselves. I began by finding data from the World Value Survey related to the relationship between age and various activities. Those who are sixty-five and above reported being less happy than those sixty-four and below. Leisure is more important among those who are older than the younger. Depression was low in both the elderly and young as was loneliness. Importance of family was high in both groups. Those sixty-five and above placed more value on religion that did the sixty-four and below. Politics were fairly unimportant despite age. Overall, I discovered that age has the most affect on importance of religion, happiness, and the value of leisure. Religion could be more closely related to a tradition that is beginning to die out or give way to more "modern" temptations. Happiness may fade with age due to increased medical problems or loss of friends dying of old age. Leisure most likely increases in importance because they have worked their share and feel as though they deserve the rest, or maybe they need it to stay healthy.

RURAL AND URBAN POPULATIONS


As previously mentioned on page three, thirty-two percent of the population is urban while the other sixty-eight percent live in the rural areas (Page not found). I was unable to find any hard facts (numbers) of the changes in the urban and rural population. I speculate, however, that the urban population is growing at a fast pace as industrialization is rapidly increasing. People are looking for jobs and are finding them in the cities. Although there are not many large cities in India, the ones that exist are becoming tremendously large. It is possible that India is industrializing too fast. I'm not sure if the nation has had time to adapt with each level of industrialization. It seems that the cities are becoming overwhelmed and are not prepared to offer the adequate clean running water, food, medical care, or proper sanitation.

CURRENT POPULATION POLICY


The most recent report I could find on population policy for India came from an article written in 2000 entitled, "India Proposes Retooled Population Policy," written by O.P. Sharma. After fifty-three years of independence, India still struggled with a policy to control the population growth. It is estimated that by 2045 it will have exceeded China as the largest nation by population. The population policy released in 2000 by the Minister of Health seeks to "bring the total fertility rate to replacement level by 2010 and to achieve a stable population by 2045, at a level consistent with sustainable economic growth, social development, and environmental protection."(http://www.prb.org/Content/Navigatio...ion_Policy.htm)

I think the United States and the rest of the Western world has played a big role in how India seeks to control its population. They seem to be implementing mechanisms used in the United States such as family planning, contraception, education for women, and abortion. I believe that India's government feels desperate to do something about the situation as soon as possible and has looked at the methods of other nations. I see where it is following in some of the footsteps of the United States. One thing that strikes me is that they are afraid of surpassing the population of China, but have chosen not to implement a one child per couple rule as China has done.

If I were the leader of India, I would seek to increase the living conditions of the people. I would focus on the quality and distribution of food and water so that everyone would have enough. I believe the biggest problem is not that there are too many people, but that resources necessary for daily living are not distributed properly. Encouraging mothers to kill their unborn babies is not the responsible or appropriate thing to do. We should help them to care for the children they have and educate them about their bodies and contraceptive use. The earth can support the growing population, but we need to master the challenge of taking care of the people.

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