India’s population touched 1.198 billion in 2009, second only to China’s 1.3438 billion. By 2050, India will be the most populated country in the world with 1.6 billion people, followed by China at 1.4 billion. The higher a country’s population, the more vulnerable will it be to climate change. UNFPA representative in India Nesim Tumkaya tells Sanchita Sharma how severe droughts, worsening floods and rising seas affect India’s teeming population.
India has 68 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 compared to China’s 10. What is India doing wrong?
Coercive policies don’t work. They are short-sighted. The way forward is providing social security, bringing down maternal and child mortality.
What will be the impact of India’s population momentum on climate change?
Going by present trends, India will have the highest concentration of humanity in the world by 2050. Increasing population means higher resource use, which will result in higher carbon emissions and associated problems such as rising seas, severe droughts, worse floods and food shortages.
Who will be at worst risk?
India’s 820 million rural population. Sixty-three per cent people in rural India are landless or small and marginal farmers. They are completely dependent on the monsoons. If farmers fail, food prices will go up, leading to food shortage in both urban and rural India.
Are overpopulated metros the future?
If the sea-levels rise as predicted by 4-7 metres in this century, there will be massive displacements from megacities situated at low-elevation coastal zones such as Mumbai, Surat, Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai, Vizag and Kolkata.
What is the way forward?
India must take the lead in using green technology, such as harnessing wind and solar power.