The following are some of the major factors which are responsible for this high rate of growth of population in India.
I. Biological Factors:
Biological factors are highly responsible for this present high rate of growth of population in India. These biological factors include sharp fall in death rate, high birth rate and the resultant accelerating natural growth rate.
1. Sharp Fall in Death Rate:
In India the death rate has sharply fallen during the first half of the twentieth century, i.e., from 42.6 per thousand in 1901-11 to 12.8 per thousand in 1951-61. Various factors are responsible for this sharp fall in death rate.
The factors which have largely contributed to this sharp fall in the death rate include removal of famines leading to eradication of starvation death, control of epidemics arising through cholera and small pox, decline in the incidence of malaria and tuberculosis and some other factors like improvement of public health measures like drinking water supply, improved hygienic and sanitation facilities and the improvement of medical and hospital facilities.
Thus all these factors had led to sudden and phenomenal fall in the death rate in recent years, i.e., to 9.0 per thousand in 1996 and this is considered as the most important factor for this high rate of growth of population in India.
2. No Substantial Fall in the Birth Rate:
During the first half of the present century, the birth rate in India did not fall substantially. The birth rate in India declined marginally for 49.2 per thousand in 1901-11 to 41.7 in 1951-61 and then to 27.4 per thousand in 1996. Due to this maintenance of birth rate to very high level, the rate of growth of population in India remained all along high. Moreover, due to tropical climate, puberty of women in India starts at an early age leading to a large number of births.
3. Accelerating Natural Growth Rate:
The most important factor which is responsible for the high rate of growth of population is its accelerating natural growth rate. This has resulted from the wide gap between the birth rate and death rate of population in India, the factor which is against responsible for this wide gap is the sudden and phenomenal fall in the death rate and no substantial fall in the birth rate.
Due to remarkable advance in medical sciences along with the improvement and expansion of public health and medical facilities, the death rate in India has come down from 27.4 per thousand in 1951 to above 9.0 per thousand in 1996. All these had led to a severe increase in the natural growth rate of population from 12.5 per thousand in 1951 to 25.3 per thousand in 1971 and then slightly declined to 18.4 per thousand in 1996.
II. Economic Factors:
The birth rate of population in a country is very much influenced by the economic factors. Economic factors such as, extent of poverty, occupational distribution of population, the pace of urbanisation etc. have significant bearing on the birth rate of population of the country.
Poverty coupled with other associated factors such as poor diet, illiteracy, ill health etc. normally raise the birth rate at a high level in most of the underdeveloped countries.
A group of economists argue that in most of the underdeveloped countries, poverty is not resulted from population explosion rather the economic compulsions of population explosion result high fertility among the population. It is been observed that poor man always welcome further addition to his family for supplementing his family income. This has led to high growth rate of population.
In India, the level of per capita income is very poor and about 26.1 per cent of the total population is still living below the poverty line. Again the majority of the population living above the poverty line is just living at the subsistence level and thus they are denied of minimum nutrition and basic amenities of life. Under such a situation, people become indifferent about the size of their family.
Children without getting an educational support start to help their parents in work and raise their family earning and, therefore, prove to be assets to the family. Moreover, there is a close positive correlation between the poverty and high fertility. Chronic hunger makes sex important enough to compensate emotionally for the shrunken nutritional appetite. Thus poverty is standing as a major hurdle against the adoption of family planning programmes by the poorer sections of the country.
2. Predominance of Agriculture:
In India, the occupational structure of the population has not changed much with the adoption of developmental strategy continuing since last four decades. More than two-thirds of the working population is still engaged in agriculture. In an agrarian society children are never considered as an economic burden rather they are supporting various agricultural activities during the peak period.
About the absorption of child labour, the Ministry of Labour in India observed that, “What facilitates their absorption in the labour market is the shortage of labour in the peak agricultural season in the local areas.”
3. Slow Pace of Urbanisation:
The pace of urbanisation in India is very slow. The proportion of urban population out of the total population was only 27.8 per cent in 2001 as against 17.6 per cent in 1951. Urban population is more conscious about the economic burden of a larger family size and urbanization disintegrates the joint family system. Moreover, urbanisation is coupled with lot of specific problems like housing problem, increased cost of living, and high cost of upbringing of children.
All these factors induce an urban people to go for small family norm which reduces the birth rate of population significantly. In India, due to poor rate of industrialization, the pace of urbanization is very slow and thus it failed to create any impact on the reduction of birth rate.
III. Social Factors:
Various social factors are contributing towards high birth rate in India. Social factors such as universality of marriage, early marriage, illiteracy, religious and social superstitions, joint family system and lack of family planning are highly responsible for this high rate of growth of population in India.
1. Universality of Marriage:
Marriage is almost universal in India as it is a religious and social necessity of the country. Parents feel that it is their social obligation to arrange marriage for the daughters. Thus presently in India, about 76 per cent of the women of their reproductive age are married and by attaining the age of 50 only 5 out of 1,000 Indian women remain unmarried. Hence, this has resulted a very high birth rate.
2. Practice of Early Marriage:
Practice of early marriage is very much common in various parts of the country and the average age of marriage is still around 18 years. Between the age of 15 to 20 years, more than 8 out of every 10 girls got married in India. Thus the practice of empty marriage raises the span of reproductivity. Some reduction of fertility would be possible if the average age of marriage of Indian women can be raised to 25 or more.
In India, illiteracy is widespread as a significant portion of India population and women in particular are still illiterate. The literacy rate among the women in India is only 54.2 per cent as against 75.9 per cent among men and the incidence of female illiteracy is comparatively much higher in backward states. It has been observed by most of the economists that spread of education alone can change the attitudes of the people towards marriages, family, birth of a child etc. and help the people to shed irrational ideas and religious superstitions.
There is an inverse correlation between the spread of education and fertility. The findings of the Operations Research Group Survey show that birth rates in general are lower and adoption of family planning norms become more popular in those states where education is more widespread. Further, due to lack of education, the response of rural population in respect of adoption of family planning norms and use of contraceptives are not at all encouraging.
4. Religious and Social Attitudes:
Religious and social attitudes of the Indian people induce to prefer large families. The idea to have sons and daughters for performing religious rites and to earn religious merit is still very much common in Indian society.
5. Ignorance and Lack of Conscious Family Planning:
People of India are very much ignorant about the biology of reproduction, need for birth control and devices of birth control. In India, there is also lack of conscious family planning along with lack of birth control devices, more particularly in the rural areas. That is why the Family Planning Programme in India could not do much headway in reducing the birth rate.
6. Other Factors:
Various other factors, viz., tropical climate, existence of polygamy, higher widow remarriages etc. are responsible for this high rate of growth of population in India. Moreover, growing immigration of population from the neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal etc. is also raising the growth rate of population in India to a considerable extent.
This problem of immigration is very much acute in Assam and north-eastern states, West Bengal and Bihar. This has been creating the problem of influx of population within the country besides raisin a threat towards national security.