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India is a place brimming with different cultures and languages, is also filled with another thing- People. Lots and lots of people. With a population of more than a billion, it is not surprising that India is home to some of the most populated cities in the world. Mumbai, for example, (fourth biggest city in the world) has a population of eighteen million four hundred and forty thousand people. Delhi has a population of more than twenty million people. In contrast, these number are more than twice the population of New York City and almost six times the population of Los Angeles, two of the most populated cities in the United States. This scenario may be legible, and even beneficial for a country that has a huge land area, but it is an epidemic for India. This essay will dwell into how overpopulation has played its part in the slow development of the country. Further, it will also discuss some possible solutions to this problem.
The problem with overpopulation can be classified into many types. One of them is Child marriage. Throughout the history of India, child marriages have been very prevalent. It also has economic and social implications, as a poor family that would have a young daughter will think that marrying her off would mean they will have to feed one less mouth. Further, due to the low social standing of women in the old times, many families, in order to conceive a male heir, would have as many kids as possible till the first male child is born, which contributed to the rapid increase in population.
The biggest factor that influences population in India is the illiteracy and poverty. Mostly poor people are the ones who are illiterate, due to the fact that they cannot afford school fees. Poor people usually end up in menial jobs where they make just enough money for survival. This results in a mindset where economically weak households think they need more labor to earn more money, which results in those households conceiving more and more children, to increase the number of people working and earning money for the family. Since these children from poor families that are used as labor grow up in a household where they never prioritized and only worked, they also develop a mindset that earning any amount of meagre wage to support a family is more important than education, even if the latter results in a higher wage. This starts an unending cycle of poverty.
Further, due to lack of high-tech farming methods, the farmers in rural areas are unable to earn enough money due to a low yield. These farmers usually end up migrating to urban areas to achieve necessary levels of self-sufficiency, resulting in high population density in urban areas. Again, these people are uneducated and from poor families, they work minimum wage jobs, that results in a stagnant economy as they have no motivation to work towards a higher income.
There are many possible solutions to this raging problem, but only a few seem legible, and even fewer which may have an impact. These solutions vary from state level to individual level, and this essay will be focusing on the individual level solutions. The most obvious solution that might come to anybody’s mind is of reducing the birth rates. However, the best solution for a developing country like India is that it uses this large population to its advantage. This can be done in ways such as women empowerment, education, and increasing its workforce.
The current scenario in India when it comes to female representation in society is unacceptable. Studies have demonstrated how fertility rates have a correlation to female literacy and labour force participation. An increase in literacy rate and labour force participation among women has shown a drop in fertility rates. Even though this seems like an effective method, the limitations imposed by the patriarchal nature of the Indian society deep rooted throughout history poses a serious challenge against the same. However, the current generation of Indians hold serious power to reverse this. Since 1987, the female literacy rate in India has almost doubled. Considering Murthi’s analysis regarding female literacy rates and fertility rates, it is a promising solution. However, critics could argue that since India’s population has shown no such decline, it may not be the most efficient way to adopt.
Another solution that may play in the favor of Indians is promotion of education. In developing countries, education is less prioritized over other factors such as ensuring a male heir, increasing family size so as to increase family income and fall back for parents in old age. This results in fast growing population, and promotion of education among the poor can lead to increased sexual awareness and family planning. If each middle-class citizen of India funds the education of one child, it can lead to an increase in overall literacy rates, which not only leads to sexual awareness and family planning, but also leads to a boost in economic growth. This solution is based on studies showing that educated societies tend to have fewer children and also bear them at an older age.
Further, one of the most efficient solutions would be increasing the scale of industrialization in the country, especially in regions with a high fertility rate. The level of development across India is extremely varied, and this has resulted in the uncontrollable population explosion. This is rooted from the United Growth Theory, which states that there is an inverse relation between industrialization and fertility rates. The theory states that this is because a boost in industrialization increases the potential benefits of investing in human capital, which leads parents to invest more in quality rather than quantity, in other words, they invest more in one child and rather than investing less in more than one. Child labor becomes more difficult as industrialization demands more rigorous child labor rights. Urbanization, a result of industrialization, increases child bearing costs, which in turn leads to reduced fertility rates.
India’s has a huge millennial population. Almost 32% of all Indians are millennials, who can contribute towards increasing India’s workforce, which will result in a growth in it’s economy. With the current numbers of only 49% of this demographic working and earning an income, India’s market has shifted entirely from a producer’s market to a sellers market. This has resulted in reduced savings and increased investing, which has always resulted in a boosted economy. If the entire demographic of all 440 million Indian millennials invest, India’s economy is bound to rise upwards. Moreover, millennials can increase the scale of industrialization by investing in their hometowns. Most of the millennials reside in urban areas, these millennials migrate from their hometowns – that are mostly rural or small urban areas at best – seeking better education and better jobs, while leaving their less developed hometowns behind. By increasing investments in small towns, that will almost always have a high fertility rate, millennials can boost the industrialization pace, and lay groundwork for the United Growth theory to do its magic.
In conclusion, India’s overpopulation crisis stems from its patriarchal society, and is strengthened by its poverty and illiteracy rates. Although it may seem that the Indian populace holds a lot of power and can reverse this epidemic, India still has a long way to go in terms of accepting the same. Most of the rural populace in India still has the orthodox mindset that an increased labor force participation by women is unacceptable, and most of the millennials still have time in realizing how much power they actually hold.
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