Indian population: A discussion on demographics

“You, Indians. Just look at the number of your population.”

My non-Indian friend looks at me, and laughs mockingly. As if I was a major contributor to the ginormous number.

I deny all responsibility. And there are giggles from people around. They ask me why India is so densely inhabited.

But, before we answer that question, let us look at some demographic statistics.

With 1.326 billion people, India is second only to China which has 1.388 billion. And India is poised to overtake China’s population, by 2022.

World Population is estimated to have already reached 7.5 billion, in April 2017. And the United Nations estimates it will further increase to 11.2 billion by year 2100.

Now, with China and India together constituting 37% of the world’s population, you are sure to meet an Indian, or a Chinese, anywhere you go!

One of the things that the British left to Indians, when they left the country in 1947, is the English language.

Armed with English - often throwing pronunciation, accent and grammar to the wind, along with any embarrassment it causes - Indians are more likely, than the Chinese, to venture out into the brave new world.

So, hang on there, dear world. Indians are arriving. More Indians, I mean.

After all, many Indian executives are already heading global businesses. As CEOs of companies and conglomerates such as Microsoft, Google, PepsiCo, MasterCard, Adobe Systems, Cognizant and Nokia.

Now, coming back to my friends’ question, why are some countries so thickly populated, while some are not?

Simple. Man has always moved to places where he could farm or fish to sustain his family. Man has always migrated to places where he can protect his family, feed his family, and raise his children.

He always aimed to develop, and live in, physical and social environs which are conducive to human well-being. And habitable places like river banks, fertile plains, verdant deltas, lush mountains, fruitful trees and calm seashores are what he always sought.

History tells us that if Mesopotamian Civilization flourished on the banks of River Tigris and River Euphrates, it was on the banks of River Indus that Indus Valley Civilization thrived.

If Egyptian Civilization flourished on the banks of River Nile, it was along the fertile shores of the 6380 kilometre long Yangtze River that Chinese Civilization thrived.

No wonder then that these regions, especially in China and India, have longer history, culture and heritage. And, needless to say, greater population numbers.

The heat of the arid Arabian Gulf did not attract many people. Not until recently.

And I attribute the current growth of population here - in cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Jeddah, Doha and Muscat – mainly to two factors. The invention of air-conditioning and the discovery of oil.

If it were not for the new technological possibility of houses, offices, cars, supermarkets and malls being kept cool,  this region would not have attracted the migrant work force. It includes Indians who have the ‘close-proximity advantage’.

Another vital factor for the growth of qualified doctors, engineers, chartered accountants and others within India, and the diaspora, is the effectiveness of India’s Human Resources Development planning. Skill sets for the rapidly growing workforce in a rapidly changing world were carefully addressed by India’s HRD Ministry.

A shining example is the phased manner in which universities were made to introduce computer courses from late 1980s. It led to India becoming a software super-power.

Yes. There is still poverty in India. But, we cannot deny that, over the years, India has – at least to a good extent - turned its population from being a liability to becoming an asset.

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