This Article First Appeared In The Hindu On July 12, 2023
The passage of World Population Day (July 11) is also a time to look at how India’s demographic journey has changed the lives of its citizens, particularly its women. India’s population grew from about 340 million at Independence to 1.4 billion. This growth was fuelled by the gift of life that receding starvation, improved public health, and medical miracles brought to India. In 1941, male life expectancy was about 56 years; only 50% of boys survived to age 28. Today, life expectancy for men is 69 years, and nearly 50% live to see the ripe old age of 75. This rapid decline in mortality took parents by surprise, who no longer needed to have four children to ensure that at least two would survive, causing population growth until fertility decline caught up with the mortality decline, and the Total Fertility Rate fell from 5.7 in 1950 to 2.1 in 2019.