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India’s Population – An Asset Or A Liability?  

By Dr. Sawraj Singh

Even though the official census shows that India has the second largest population after China, I feel that in reality, India’s population is almost equal to or has already become larger than China. India may have the largest or the second largest population in the world, but nobody can deny that India is a very populated country in the world. India has about one-third area compared to China. It is obvious that India is a very densely populated country compared to China. Another interesting fact is that the Indian population is very young. In many countries, the population is aging. Therefore, India probably has the youngest population in the world. The question:  is India’s population its greatest asset or its greatest liability

Population can be our greatest asset or biggest liability. It depends upon how we deal with it. If we can use our population for constructive and productive purpose, then it becomes our greatest asset, otherwise it becomes our biggest liability. It is very sad to say that so far, our population has proved to be more of a liability rather than an asset. We have been unable to provide a decent life to the great majority of people. Our limited resources have been overtaxed. We may even run out of drinking water for our people. A large number of our children do not get even the minimum calories required to function properly. This undernourishment is leading to stunted physical, mental and intellectual growth. Moreover, poor physical health also leads to lower immunity and resistance to disease. Not only these people suffer from various infectious diseases, but they also become like reservoirs of the organisms which cause these diseases. This makes it very difficult to eradicate these diseases.

Overpopulation also leads to congestion and unclean and unhealthy living conditions. Look at what is happening in our capitol city, Delhi. Delhi and the surrounding area has become the most densely populated area of India. It has also become one of the most polluted cities in the world. People even have difficulty breathing the air. Some companies are selling filtered masks to help you breathe. Delhi also seems to have become one of the endemic areas for the mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, dengue and chickungunya

There is yet another big problem related to overpopulation. We have been unable to provide proper employment opportunities for our youth. This has led to mass scale migration of educated youth to other countries. Punjab is facing this problem more than any other state in India. About 400,000 students take the IELTS test a year. These students are joining schools in countries like Canada, USA, UK and Australia. Their parents have to sell their land or other properties to pay their fees. Some parents have to spend all their lifetime savings and retirement benefits to pay their fees. Besides brain drain, there is a massive flight of capital from Punjab. Almost none of these students plan to come back to India. Their parents are also most likely to join them in those countries after selling their lands and property here. There is going to be more net outflow of capital from Punjab.

It is obvious that our population has not proved an asset so far. Actually, it is helping the developed countries more than us. We are providing them the manpower (cheap labor) they need and also there is net inflow of capital to those countries.  We have to change this situation and come out of this vicious imperialist cycle. We need to discard the present western capitalist model of development and adopt an alternate model of development which is more compatible with our conditions and is pro-people rather than pro-imperialist. In such a model, our population will become the biggest asset for us.

Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at sawrajsingh@hotmail.com.

 

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