INDIAN prime minister Narendra Modi warned Thursday (15) of the risks of an “unchecked population explosion” in the nation of 1.3 billion people, the first time he has raised the issue, and called for family planning measures.
India is the world’s second-most populous country behind China with 1.4 billion, and its population is set to surpass its East Asian neighbour by 2024, according to the United Nations.
“It is time to accept the challenges upfront… population explosion. It will bring a lot of challenges for the future generations of this country,” Modi said in an Independence Day speech in the capital New Delhi.
“We have to think if we can do justice to the aspirations of our children. There is a need to have greater discussion and awareness on population explosion.”
The prime minister hailed an “informed section” of Indians who were already having smaller families as “playing a big role in doing good for the country”.
India introduced forced sterilisations for men in the 1970s to limit its population growth but was forced to abandon them due to widespread anger.
The government stopped setting official targets for sterilisations in 1996, but rights activists say the practice persists at a local level.
More than 1.9 million people, mostly women, were sterilised across India in 2017 and 2018, according to the government’s National Health Mission.