– Pro. Yashveer Tyagi
On World Population Day (July 11), it will be worthwhile to investigate the challenges of Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh is not only the most populous state in India but also ranks fifth in population size among the countries of the world. Every sixth person on earth lives in India and every sixth person in India is resident in Uttar Pradesh. The current scenario of the population in Uttar Pradesh presents an image of both hope and concern. Some indicators offer some relief in terms of population. For the first time in five decades, the ten-year rate of population growth in Uttar Pradesh decreased to 20.23 during the period 2001-2011. It recorded a significant decrease compared to the growth of 25.85 in the previous decade 1991-2001. In fact, during the three decades 1971-2001, the population of Uttar Pradesh grew at a steady rate of about 25.26 per decade.
The latest projected population estimates for India and the National Population Commission states for the period 2011.36 in 2019 predicted a rapid decline in the total fertility rate and slow population growth in the coming years.
For example, ten-year population growth during the period 2011-2021 was estimated at 15.56. It is expected to decline to 9.14 during 2021-2031. The birth rate and fertility rate are also likely to decrease in line with this trend. According to these projections, Uttar Pradesh will reach the level of replacement of the total fertility rate of 2.1 in 2025. It was previously considered in 2027. The total fertility rate in Uttar Pradesh has now been reduced to 3. According to the National Family Health Survey, its value for the year 2019-21 has remained at 2.4. The population of Uttar Pradesh is estimated at 23.41 million as of July 1, 2022.
Some demographic indicators do not paint a very satisfactory picture in Uttar Pradesh. These are issues of concern. According to the latest Bulletin (May 2022) of the sample registration system, the birth rate in Uttar Pradesh is 25.1. It is the second highest in India. The mortality rate is 6.5. In view of this, the natural population growth rate is 18.6. In fact, it is the highest in India after Bihar. It is pertinent to note that the 145 districts that have been identified under the Mission Parivar Vikas Program, implemented since 2017 in India, have a total fertility rate of 3 or more. Of these, 57 districts are from Uttar Pradesh. According to the National Family Health Survey, the infant mortality rate in Uttar Pradesh is 50.4. The under-five mortality rate is 59.8. These indicators have improved over previous years. But there is not a very satisfactory picture of maternal and child health care in Uttar Pradesh.
According to NITI Aayog’s composite health index for 2019-20, Uttar Pradesh’s score of 30.57 is the lowest among all states. The state yogi government has taken many steps to expand and improve health services. The main one of these is the establishment of a medical college in every district of the state. Despite this, it should be understood that due to the increase in population and the mobility generated by it over the years, even after reaching the replacement level of 2.1, the total rate of fertility in Uttar Pradesh will remain under strong demographic pressure in the coming years. This will put enormous pressure on public facilities and administrative machinery. The increase in population density is also worrying. The population density in Uttar Pradesh has increased from 250 in 1951 to 829 per square kilometer in 2011. According to the estimated population of 2021, the population density may be 958.
Uttar Pradesh’s first population policy was formulated in 2000. Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue of the population explosion in the country from the walls of Fort Roig in his speech to the nation on 15 d August 2019. He had said that a small sector of society that keeps their families small deserves respect. What they are doing is an act of patriotism. Supporting the views of the Prime Minister, Chief Minister Yogi had said in 2019 that everyone should receive good health services, better education, roads, drinking water and other basic facilities and this is only possible when we control the our population.
The important question is what more needs to be done to improve the demographic situation in the UP. There must be a political consensus on the need to stop population growth. The government must show a strong political will to effectively implement the family planning program. The adoption of a family planning program is the social responsibility of every citizen. There are misconceptions about family planning in some communities. To overcome them, community participation at the grassroots level in the family planning program must be ensured. The active participation of the private sector is essential in all these activities. At this point the state government can take a step back. That is, create the State Population Commission.
(The author is a former chair of the Department of Economics at Lucknow University.)