Population Explosion as an obstacle to Economic Development
India is facing the situation of population explosion. Although we need more labour supply for our economic development, it is also true that if our population keeps on rising, the process of economic development will be affected. The rising population in India affects economic development in the following ways:
If the population of India goes on rising and there is no proportionate increase in agricultural production, the country will face a serious food problem.
The greater the increase in population, the greater is the number of children and old persons. Children and old persons consume without their making any contribution to output. The increasing number of children and old people increase the burden in terms of more requirements of nutrition, medical care, public health and education that go unattended to a large extent.
The fast growing population retards the average growth rate of national income and per capita income. This is because whatever is added to the national income is consumed by ever-increasing population.
The most serious consequences of a rapid increase in population is that it reduces the capacity to save and invest. The national income and per capita income in India is very low to leave any margin for the people to save. Further, there will be a fall in effective demand as the people's purchasing power is low. Rapid population growth thus makes it difficult to increase the rate of savings which determines the possibility of achieving higher productivity and incomes in a country.
Capital formation is very essential for the economic development of a country, particularly for a developing country like India. Capital formation depends upon saving and investment. This is not possible when there is a rapid growth of population, which results in more unemployment and underemployment. Thus, the fast-growing population affects the capital formation in the country adversely.
Rising population aggravates the problem of unemployment. The labour force also increases with the increase in population; and this increased labour force is not fully absorbed due to lack of employment opportunities. Therefore, there are more unemployed and underemployed people.
Rapid and frequent childbirths make a large number of women unable to take part in productive activity for longer periods. This is a waste of human resource, and it retards economic development.
The increasing population adversely affects the national income and the per capita income. Due to this, the people have a low standard of living, which makes them less efficient. This hinders the rapid development of the country.
A rise in population increases the number of children. This would demand more social expenditure on medical care, public health, family welfare, education and housing, etc.
The increase in population has led to uneconomic holdings through subdivision and fragmentation of land holdings in India. The size of holding is so small that mechanised farming is not possible. Although some successful efforts towards development of agriculture have been made under the Five Year Plans, agricultural production still far short of the requirements of the population and the agro-industries in the country.
The rapid growth of population adversely affects industrial development. This is the reason why neither the cottage and small-scale industries nor large-scale industries could develop adequately in the country. Both big and small industries require adequate capital, whereas the rate of capital formation is low in India. Public investment in India is insufficient for the industrial development of the country.
Financial Burden on Government
Rapid increase in population is a financial strain to the government. The resources have to be spent on launching poverty alleviation programmes and social welfare schemes. This includes provision of good drinking water, housing, sanitary, health and medical facilities in order to increase the standard of living of the people. If the population is controlled, then the government can spend on more productive purposes which would increase the national and per capita income and thereby raise the standard of living of the people.
All these above mentioned factors emphasise the urgency of checking the population growth in India. The rapid rate of population growth affects the economic progress of the country adversely. That is why, it is sometimes said that in India we have to run and run to remain in the same place.