This article is written by Ayushi Mahajan, currently pursuing BBA-LL.B from Centre For Legal Studies, Gitarattan International Business School. This article talks about the situation of overpopulation in different countries and its impact on different sectors of society.
Overpopulation can be defined as a situation where the total number of the existing human population exceeds the actual carrying capacity. Of all the environmental problems our planet is facing today, overpopulation is the one that sometimes slips from the radar. Overpopulation places a great demand on resources and land, which may be the reason for widespread environmental issues in addition to impacting global economies and standards of living. Overpopulation is caused by many factors such as the reduction in mortality, better medical facilities, scarcity of precious resources are some of the reasons which result in overburdening. If it is not able to sustain life, it can become a fairly densely populated area.
Causes of overpopulation
Poverty is to be believed as the major cause of overpopulation. High mortality rate and lack of educational resources, leads to high birth rates, resulting in a large population.
This effect is said to be so widespread that the United Nations has predicted that the 48 poorest countries of the world contribute to the largest population growth. They estimate that the combined population of these countries is expected to be 1.7 billion in 2050 from 850 million in 2010.
This is as painful to sound that child labour is used very continuously and extensively in many countries of the world. The United Nations Children’s Fund or UNICEF has provided a rough ideas that approximately 150 million children are currently working as child labour in different types of workstations.
As a result, children of two of the family can be seen as a source of income by poor families. In addition, children who start working too young lose the educational opportunities they are provided with.
While it plays a minor role compared to other causes of overpopulation, better fertility treatment has made it possible for more people to have children and that is how the population is growing.
The women are now using various fertility treatments which have been increasing since their inception. Now, most women get the option to conceive, even if they are not able to do so without such treatment.
Poor contraceptive use
Though the use of contraceptives is quite common in many developed countries, poor planning on the part of both the partners can lead to unexpected pregnancies. The data showed that 76% of women aged 16 to 49 in Great Britain used at least one type of contraceptive, leaving a quarter open for unexpected pregnancies.
Reduced mortality rates
Many improvements in medical technology have reduced the mortality rates for many serious diseases. Particularly dangerous viruses and diseases such as polio, smallpox and measles have been practically eradicated by such advances and now there are many fewer cases of the same.
While this is such positive news in many of the ways, it also means that people are living longer than before. This much “delay” in the cycle of life and death has caused birth rates in modern times to exceed.
Uncontrolled immigration to countries can lead to overcrowding to the point where those countries are having no longer necessary resources for their populations. This is particularly a problem in countries where immigration numbers far exceed the migration numbers of that particular country.
In some cases, immigrants may try to avoid backward migrants in their own countries, only to contribute to the issues they run into. However, there is data to show that immigration can affect economies, with its impact being particularly evident in the UK.
Effects of overpopulation
Overpopulation can have many effects, many of which are negative as provided below:
Depletion of natural resources
The effects of the overpopulation are quite severe. One of these is the lack of natural resources. Earth has the capacity to only produce a limited amount of food and water, falling short of current needs of the people which are increasing day by day.
Most of the environmental damage seen in the last fifty years is due to the increasing number of people on the planet. These include deforestation, careless wildlife hunting, causing pollution and host to other problems.
Increased intensive farming
As and when the size of the population grows, there is a need for more food products. More food products require more grains and more farmers with new farming techniques. Therefore it is the need of the country from the farmers to grow more food products for the population.
The impact of overuse on the world’s wildlife is also a major issue. As the demand for land increases, it does the destruction of natural resources such as forests.
Scientists have warned that if the current trend continues, 50% of the world’s total wildlife species will be in the danger of extinction. Data shows that there is a direct relationship between an increase in human population and a decrease in the number of species on the planet.
Consequences of the rapid rise in the population growth
Rapid population growth makes the choice between high consumption and investment needed to bring more consumption in the future more scarce. Economic development depends on investment. Therefore, rapid population growth repels the investment needed for higher future consumption.
With a rapidly growing population, the adjustment becomes difficult to manage with economic and social change. Urbanization in UDC creates problems like housing, electricity, water, transport etc. In addition, the growing population is at risk of permanent environmental damage through urbanization in some rural areas.
The rapidly growing population transforms the economy into mass unemployment and low employment. As the population increases, the ratio of workers to the total population increases. The result is that with an increase in the labour force, unemployment and low employment increases. Rapid increment of the population reduces savings and investment.
Domestic consumption of exportable goods also increases with rapid population growth. As a result, there is a decline in the exportable surplus. On the other hand just to meet the demand of the rapidly growing population, more food and other consumer goods are needed so that demand can be fulfilled.
Laws relating to overpopulation in India
In early 2020, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Mohan Bhagwat announced that the two-child policy would be one of the primary goals of the organization. Bhagwat’s support made the two-child policy more controversial. Some have criticized the proposal as an attempt to limit the development of India’s Muslim population.
Some local governments are now one step further. Some states are having laws which punish ordinary citizens if they are having more than two children. These discrepancies include denial of governmental rights to children born after the second child. They may also reject state-provided healthcare for mothers and children, including nutritional supplements for pregnant women.
For a father, there may be jail time and fines. Penalties include a general reduction in social services for large families and restrictions on government promotion and employment.
Population Control Bill, 2019
The Population Control Bill, 2019 is a bill proposed and introduced in the upper house or Rajya Sabha in July 2019 by Rakesh Sinha. The bill aims to control India’s population growth. According to the World Population Prospect 2019, the report provided by the United Nations, India’s population is set to overtake China within a span of ten years. The proposed bill was signed by 125 Members of Parliament and is yet to become an Act or law of India.
On 7 February 2020, the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced in the upper house or Rajya Sabha by Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai. Desai proposed to amend Article 47A of the Constitution of India.
The 2020 Bill proposes to introduce a two-child per couple policy and aims to encourage its adoption through various benefits such as tax cuts, home loans, educational benefits and better employment opportunities, free healthcare. The 2019 bill proposed by Sinha talks about proposing punishments for couples who do not follow the two-child policy such as contesting elections and ineligibility for government jobs.
Overpopulation and International Law
Although private, national and bilateral measures are important to control the population, they do not have the capacity for rapid construction. The consensus of an international standard the United Nations, however, as a multilateral treaty organization, is well adapted for discovery and influences general vision and goals, as well as making a comprehensive plan problem attack.
The task of developing the basis of an agreement between member states is mainly United nations, done in the General Assembly, the issue of the population is the agenda of the General Assembly was repeated in 1962. The World Health Organization attempts to settle this issue was disappointing.
In 1962, the General Assembly passed a resolution for intensive research by appropriate bodies and requested that the Secretary-General issue a questionnaire for the members. States to determine what problems and policies if any, each member was related to the population growth of the state. This resolution was passed without any contrary vote, 29 abstentions, after only one clause U.N. To provide technical assistance at the request of members, was removed.
Nevertheless, the impact and importance of the resolution were undeniable. The population problem was officially recognized as one International problem and concrete action was initiated.
Impact of overpopulation on the country’s
If economic growth exceeds population growth, the standard of living goes up. On the other hand, if population growth affects output growth per capita, then higher population growth rates will contribute to higher or lower overall economic growth rates depending on the nature of its effects on per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
As the population of a country increases, its level of energy conservation also increases. The interdependence of living beings depends more on fossil fuels and the energies developed by it. And hence energy conservation is hampered by the growth of population
The closer people become, the more easily diseases spread. Every year 3.4 million people die due to contaminated water-related disease. Overpopulation will only create a more polluted water supply. It is estimated that in the next 35 years the Earth’s supply of natural gas will be exhausted. That’s how overpopulation will affect public health.
Overpopulation affects farming in a way that when people living in a country are more, they need more primary and secondary goods. People will need more food and this demand will lead to more farming. The farmers will be in a situation to grow more crops with respect to their demand and will be in pressure to grow more food.
Food supplies are hampered when the population grows. The more the amount of population, the more is the requirement of food supplies.
Lack of freshwater
Some rough ideas provide that human demand for freshwater will remain at around 70% of the planet’s availability by 2025. This will give space to people living in areas that already have limited exposure to such water. Overpopulation is likely to create greater demand for the world’s fresh water supply. Since only 1% of the world’s water is fresh and accessible, this is a major issue that its demand will increase as the population increases.
Area to live
When more people are living in a country, they need more space and area for living. Hence overpopulation decreases the raw area and transforms it into a living area which further leads to environmental problems like pollution.
Deforestation is cutting down trees. When a country’s population increases, they need materials like wood, timber, etc for certain uses. And hence overpopulation causes deforestation.
Policies in India to control overpopulation
India’s Policies to control Overpopulation has been started from its first five-year plan itself.
The different policies for different plans are as follows:
First Five Year Plan
India is the first country in the world to launch a population control program in 1952. It also emphasized the use of natural tools for family planning.
Second Five Year Plan
Work was done towards education and research and a clinical approach was encouraged.
Third Five Year Plan
In 1965, sterilization techniques for both men and women were adopted under the scheme. The technique of copper-T was also adopted. An independent department called the Family Planning Department was established.
Fourth Five Year Plan
All types of birth control methods (traditional and modern) were encouraged.
Fifth Five Year Plan
The National Population Policy was announced on 16 April 1976 under this scheme. In this policy, the minimum age of marriage as prescribed by the Sharda Act, 1929 was increased. It raised the age of boys from 18 to 21 years and that of girls from 14 to 18 years. The number of MPs and MLAs was fixed by the year 2001 based on the 1971 census. Under this plan, forced sterilization was allowed, which was later abandoned. In 1977, the Janata Party government changed the name of the Family Planning Department to the Family Welfare Department.
Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Five Year Plans
Attempts were made to control the population by determining long-term demographic objectives.
Ninth Five Year Plan
In 1993, the government set up under the chairmanship of. M.S.Swaminathan to formulate a National Population Policy. Although the group drafted the new population policy in 1994, it was reviewed in 1999 by the Department of Family Welfare and passed in 2000 by the Parliament. The Central Government formulated a ‘New National Population Policy’ in February 2000.
Suggested methods to control overpopulation
There are several proposed solutions:
Better sex education
Lack of sex education or poorly implemented education has given rise to backward issues in many countries. The issue is so clear that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is calling for reform, especially in the poorer regions of the world.
Better education will help people understand more about the possible consequences of having sex as they relate to childbirth. It will also dispel many myths that surround sexual activity and scientifically introduce birth control methods.
Changes in policy
Many nations offer rewards, whether in the form of financial incentives or to those who produce more children. This may cause some couples to have more children than they would otherwise if they needed to worry about financial consequences.
Access to contraceptives
Birth control should go hand in hand with better sex education. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that 225 million women living in developing countries would prefer to postpone birth but are not using any form of contraception. Many organizations, such as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), also support improving access to contraceptives so that the birth of children remains in control.
Education for girl child
Currently, more than 130 million young women and girls worldwide are not enrolled in school. Most of these live in male-dominated societies, most notably in Sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia, which do not give women the same education rights as men.
Predetermined gender norms and child marriages hamper their access to education. Girls who have less education are more likely to have early and weak children. In addition, poor families are less likely to enrol their female children in school.
Declines in mortality, improved medical facilities, declining poverty rates, the progress of reproductive treatment, lack of immigration and family planning may lead to overgrowth. As a result, overpopulation is negatively impacting our environment because it is depleting our natural resources and degrading our environment. Overpopulation is a crisis that potentially stands with climate change as the biggest challenges facing humanity today. Despite this, little is known about education or dialogue related to this issue, especially in schools. If this does not change, the issues highlighted in this article may continue to increase. If this happens, there may be an impact on this one issue which will lead to untold problems in future.
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