Latest findings in the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) released by the Union Health Ministry on November 24 indicates that India's population rate has started to decline. As per the survey, the average number of children per woman or the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) as it is known, has declined to a 2 from 2.2 (last reported in 2015-16).
The United Nations' population division explains that countries experiencing replacement fertility below 2.1 children per woman indicates that a generation is not producing enough children to replace itself, which will eventually lead to reduction in population.
The replacement fertility level is usually fixed at 2.1, since it is the average number of children per woman that is needed to keep a balance between the number of births and deaths in a country to maintain the population.
The National Family Health Survey is conducted at an all-India level. The latest edition of this survey is the fifth in the survey series.
The survey also stated the state-wise TFR, according to which only five states have the Total Fertility Rate above 2 - Bihar (3), Meghalaya (2.9), Uttar Pradesh (2.4), Jharkhand (2.3) and Manipur (2.2).
Five states have a TFR of 1.9 - Assam, Gujarat, Haryana, Mizoram and Uttarakhand
Six states have a TFR of 1.8 - Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Telangana
Six states have a TFR of 1.7 - Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Nagaland and Tripura
Two states have a TFR of 1.6 - Maharashtra and West Bengal
And two states have a TFR at the same level as the national average, namely - Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan
Other finding from the survey include -
- Significant progress has been recorded between NFHS-4 and NFHS-5 with respect to women operating bank accounts from 53 per cent to 79 per cent at all-India level, the survey states
- Improved sex ratio: India now has more women than men for the first time. According to NFHS-3 (conducted in 2005-06), the ratio was equal, 1000: 1000; it went down to 991:1000 in 2015-16 in NFHS-4. For the first time, the NFHS-5 shows that the numbers are favouring women.
The current population of India is close to 1,398,902,101 and counting and this accounts for 17.7% of the total world population. The country ranks at number 2 after China in the list of countries ranked by population. If the numbers continue to increase then, India will be the most populous country in the world by the turn of the century.
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma, was the first who set the ball rolling on curbing the population in the state when in June 2021, he introduced the phased implementation of a two-child policy in the state.
Following this, the Uttar Pradesh government in July 2021 introduced a Population Policy which aims to bring down the total fertility rate (TFR) among women to 2.1 by 2026 and to 1.9 by 2030 in the state. While explaining the reason behind taking such steps, senior UP minister Sidharth Nath Singh had said that 240 million people live in the state, UP accounts for 16% of the total population in India. He further said, if it was a separate country, UP would have been at number 5 after China, India, US and Indonesia.