The problem of overpopulation is to be tackled immediately. There is an absolute need to contain the rapid growth of population. If this growth is not checked it is going to affect adversely the various aspects of our economy.
It brings down per capita and national income, brings down standard of living of the people. It becomes difficult to face the challenges of poverty, unemployment and underemployment. Basic needs of the people cannot be met with, political unrest and immorality cannot be efficiently dealt with.
Overpopulation is related to the size of the population and the utilisation of the countries resources. The problem should be tackled from both the sides. Firstly, production should be increased to meet the needs of the people. Secondly, size of the population should be controlled and reduced.
(A) Measure to Increase Production:
Growing population of the country can be supported through increased production. Agricultural and industrial productions are to be increased for this purpose.
1. Increase in Agricultural Production:
It is necessary to resort to modern scientific cultivation in order to increase agricultural output. Use of irrigation, high yielding seeds, rotation of crops, utilisation of chemicals, fertilisers, manures and such other means are to be adopted for this purpose. Production should keep pace with increasing population, if possible, should outstrip it.
2. Increase in Industrial Production:
The process of industrialisation is to be accelerated. Modern sophisticated technology must be made use of for industrial production. The industrial strategy should be such that it should be able to increase production and at the same time provide job facilities to a sizeable number of people. Industries are to be established in different places by making use of the locally available raw materials and human resources.
3. Development of Trade and Commerce:
The development of trade and commerce will contribute to additional income and help the country to support the growing population.
(B) Measures to Control and Reduce Population:
The problem of overpopulation can be effectively dealt with only if the rapid growth rate of population is contained. Various measures are to be undertaken in this regard.
1. Family Planning Measures:
Family planning is nowadays considered an indispensable method of controlling population. The motto of family planning is – “child by choice and not by chance” or “child by desire not by accident.” The size of the family must be limited voluntarily. It can be done in two ways: (a) Birth control methods, (b) Other family planning methods.
a) Birth control methods include – use of rubber contraceptives by males, use of pills by females, use of loops by females, sterilisation for both males and females [that is, vasectomy i for males and tubectomy for females], abortion, i.e., medical termination of pregnancy.
b) Other family planning methods include – practice of celibacy [that is, practising brahmacharya or self-restraint], postponement of marriage [or resorting to late marriage], observance of moral or self-restraint.
2. Providing Education Facility to the People:
Illiteracy is one of the factors of overpopulation. It is to be countered in order to contain the population growth. Spread of education among illiterate masses is a significant step in reducing the birth rate. People must be educated regarding the benefits of small family and late marriage. Education helps to increase the earning capacity of males and females. It improves the status of women, it creates awareness regarding family planning.
3. Rise in the Age of Marriage:
In order to reduce the child-bearing period of women [reproductive span of women], it is necessary to rise the minimum age of marriage from 18 to 20 for females and from 21 to 24 for males. Child marriages should be strictly prohibited.
4. Improving Status of Women:
Experience in the West has shown that high status of women is closely associated with a low birth rate. The desire to rise in the social scale develops a strong feeling for a smaller family. The educated, employed urban women exhibit a desire for a small family. Efforts must be made to impress upon the rural women to go in the direction of a small family.
5. Propaganda in Favour of Small Family:
Enough publicity is to be given in a country like India regarding the benefits of a small family to the general masses. Mass media of communication like the press, radio, television and movies are of great help in this regard.
6. Provision of Incentives:
Incentives such as cash payments and promotion in jobs, free education, preference in admission to technical courses, etc. could be given to the people who accept and adopt family planning.
7. Increasing the Standard of Living of the Masses:
People with higher standard of living normally opt for small family. Hence, it is necessary to increase the standard of living of the masses.
8. Providing Enough Recreational Facilities:
It has been observed that lack of sufficient recreational facilities has often contributed to the problem of overpopulation. People must be provided with sufficient recreational facilities to relax and to refresh. This will prevent them from resorting to sex play whenever they feel like refreshing themselves.
9. Internal Migration:
Unequal distribution of population in different parts of the nation can be dealt with if internal migration is allowed; it means people must be encouraged to move from the densely populated areas towards the thinly populated areas. This is not, however, easy. As Adam Smith observes, “Of all sorts of luggage, man is the most difficult to be transported.”
10. Provision of Social Security:
In the absence of comprehensive social security [especially, in old age, sickness, unemployment and accident] people have tended to depend on large families for security. The poor, in particular, consider children as their wealth. It is necessary to introduce various social insurance and social security schemes to help the poor to develop confidence to face the future.
11. Reduction in Infant Mortality:
By resorting to suitable medical steps the rate of infant mortality is to be reduced. If it is reduced, then parents will definitely feel that their children will survive and live long.
12. Changes in the Tax Structure:
Dr. S. Chandrashekhar, a noted Indian demographer, is of the opinion that by introducing a change in the taxation policy especially that of income tax, the problem can be reduced a little. Instead of giving concessions to married people with more children, he has suggested, it is better to give such concessions to the unmarried, and also to those couples without children or with only one child.