According to a recent UN report, India is set to surpass China’s population by the year 2024, Condition being China doesn’t capture our land and count the inhabitants as its own by then. Ouch!
But hey, we have nuclear warheads & Mahavir Singh Phogat, Isn’t that deterrence enough? Evidently, the only entity capable of capturing our land is Google maps, So we are more or less cool.
In the 70s though, the Chinese population was 1.5x of India’s. The fertility rates were comparable, So how did India catch up this fast despite poorer life expectancy and Infant mortality rate? Here’s how:-
So in the year 1979, a Chinese Missile scientist named Song Jian visited Europe, read some books, consulted a few mathematicians and came to this conclusion that China’s population should be pruned to 700 million by 2080. China’s population then - 940 million. So a reduction of 240 million in just 100 years, not accounting for future calamities like Plague, World War-III or Dhinchak Pooja.
And that’s how the One Child Policy came into being. It was like designing a reverse binary tree. The only way you could have two kids - Either you have twins or your first child is a girl. No wonder they flocked to the theatres to watch the story of a Indian man having three daughters. And then there was this infamous 4-2-1 phenomenon, where eventually 1 kid had to take care of 4 aged grand parents and 2 ageing parents, with no free healthcare and the life expectancy in the 70s.
The policy was phased out in 2015 though, to be replaced by a two child policy in China, and a two hoarding policy in India (two Chinese phone hoardings per Indian citizen) Ahem, but more on that later.
India realised the gravity of this issue a bit earlier than China, when Indira Gandhi’s younger son, Sanjay Gandhi ran a compulsory sterilisation Nasbandi drive during Emergency days. In just one year 6.2 million people were sterilised (15 times more than what Nazis did), scant evidence of it being effective as we have added exactly 100x that number - 620 million since then.
We have always shied away from contraception or for that matter sex education, I remember as a kid, In the days of Dial-up internet & BPL Color TVs, some relatives were over at our place. Dinner was had, and as there was no WhatsApp during those days, the family converged for a round of Antakshari. No sweat. Suddenly our team had to sing a song which began with the letter “B” and I, a kid of 8 years, almost subconsciously started yelling:
“Bol Sakhi Bol tera Raaz kya hai
Bol Sakhi Bol tera Raaz kya hai
Kya hai Teri Khushi ka raaz
Tu bata de mujhko aaaaj”
“MALA-D Goliyaan, MALA-D hai mera raaz,
Baccho me antar ke liye,
Jeewan me Khushi ke liye
Tum bhi apna lo aaj
MALA D, MALA D
D SE GAAO, MALA D-D-D se end hua hai”
The elders were stunned, they silently agreed to let this pass. Nobody told me what it was, sex education be damned. So I kept thinking for the next 4 years that this was a low budget TV ad of that chocolaty candy - Melody, which for some reason rural housewives have found a liking to.
It wasn’t my fault their husbands hated condoms.
Fortunately times have changed, Govt Ad dollars are spent on educating people to defecate under a roof OR pay taxes OR both. Population has got a new name now, Human capital it is (read TCS engineers). Fertility is dropping, Life expectancy is up & Hum do Humaare Nau, is limited to a Bihari political family.
PS: Acc to the previous UN estimation, India was supposed to cross Chinese population by 2022, now we have pushed it to 2024. Congrats :)
Happy Population day.