How Do We Feed India’s Population In 2050?
AsianScientist (Apr. 8, 2013) – India has experienced extraordinary population growth: between 2001 and 2011 India added 181 million people to the world, slightly less than the entire population of Brazil. But 76 percent of India’s population lives on less than US$2 per day (at purchasing power parity rates). India ranks at the bottom of the pyramid in per capita-level consumption indicators not only in energy or electricity but in almost all other relevant per capita-level consumption indicators, despite high rates of growth in the last decade.
Much of India’s population increase has occurred among the poorest socio-economic percentile. Relatively socio-economically advanced Indian states had a fertility rate of less than 2.1 in 2009 – less than the level needed to maintain a stable population following infant mortality standards in developed nations. But in poorer states like Bihar, fertility rates were nearer to 4.0.
Does this growth mean India can rely on the ‘demographic dividend’ to spur development? This phenomenon, which refers to the period in which a large proportion of a country’s population is of working age, is said to have accounted for between one-fourth and two-fifths of East Asia’s ‘economic miracle’ as observed late last century.
But India is not East Asia. Its population density is almost three times the average in East Asia and more than eight times the world average of 45 people per square kilometer. If India has anywhere near 1.69 billion people in 2050, it will have more than 500 people per square kilometer. Besides, in terms of infrastructure development India currently is nowhere near where East Asian nations were before their boom. In terms of soft to hard infrastructure, spanning education, healthcare, roads, electricity, housing, employment growth and more, India is visibly strained.
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