India's annual population growth is expected to gradually decelerate from 1.6 per cent in 2006 to 0.9 per cent in 2026, according to the Economic Survey 2006-07 tabled by Finance Minister P Chidambaram in Parliament on Tuesday.
Chidambaram tabled the survey in the Lok Sabha at noon, just before Speaker Somnath Chatterjee adjourned the house till Wednesday in the face of vociferous opposition protests on the issue of the arrest and bail in Argentina of Octavio Quattrocchi, the fugitive Italian businessman who is the main accused in the Bofors gun payoff scandal.
According to the Technical Group on Population Projections constituted by the National Commission on Population in May 2006, India's population, which is estimated to have gone up from the Census 2001 figure of 1.02 billion to 1.1 billion, is projected to increase to 1.4 billion by 2026.
The well-known 'demographic dividend', according to the survey, will manifest in the proportion of population in the working age group of 15-64 years, increasing steadily from 62.9 per cent in 2006 to 68.4 per cent in 2026.
With the high proportion of the population in the reproductive age group, the total population will continue to grow for another 25-35 years before stabilising around 2045.
The Economic Survey 2006-07 calls for population stabilisation by addressing issues of child survival, safe motherhood and contraception. It points out that wide inter-state, male-female and rural-urban disparities in outcomes and impact continue to persist.
Inadequacies in existing health infrastructure have led to gaps in coverage and outreach services in rural areas.
The survey says that India's position on health parameters compared even to some of its neighbours continues to be unsatisfactory. India compares poorly not only with China and Sri Lanka but also Bangladesh and Nepal with respect to some indicators.
It also points out that empirical studies state that the overall quality of the state administration, education and income are often more important than specific public health interventions in explaining the differences in demographic and health indicators.