India’s Population Level and Growth Is a Matter for Global Concern Too

India's population in 1950 was 359 million. It has increased to around 1.44 billion in January 2024, growing by 13 million people over the same period in 2023.

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Kolkata, India [Photo: Martin Jernberg/Unsplash]

In the year 2024, India has achieved the status of being the most populated country in the world, with India’s population constituting 17.76% of the global population. India’s population is still increasing, and some experts believe it may reach 2 billion by the year 2050, up from the current population of around 1.44 billion.

India’s population in 1950 was 359 million. It has increased to around 1.44 billion in January 2024, growing by 13 million people over the same period in 2023.

Some argue that this situation may not be alarming, citing demographic advantages, but more discerning observers suggest it could be a demographic drag, posing serious economic and social challenges that may destabilize society to some extent.

India’s population density is 438.58 people per square kilometer, covering a land area of 3,287,263 sq. km. In contrast, the US population is 340 million over 9,372,610 square kilometers, with a population density of 34.7 people per square kilometer. Some argue that if India had half its current population, it might nearly match the USA in economic and industrial growth.

While this view is uncertain due to numerous factors influencing any country’s growth profile, it is undeniable that India’s population growth has nullified the positive effects of several economic and industrial advancements made in the last 75 years since independence. India’s agricultural and industrial production has significantly increased, ensuring food security, yet around 15% of the population lives below the poverty line, with 40% living marginally above it.

India’s Concerns:

Overpopulation makes it impossible to generate adequate employment, leading to widespread joblessness and underemployment. This situation fosters social restlessness due to unequal income distribution and limited opportunities, denying people meaningful engagement in productive activities.

Despite phenomenal developments under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, including infrastructure and industrial growth, job creation remains inadequate for millions of Indians. Economic growth has not translated into sufficient employment opportunities on a large scale.

In the coming years, advancements in technology such as artificial intelligence and humanoid robots may drastically reduce manpower requirements, further exacerbating unemployment. Automation and robotics, driven by AI, are necessary to improve global competitiveness and efficiency in work output.

A large population also contributes to emissions, exacerbating global warming. With billions of people exhaling carbon dioxide daily, India’s unchecked population growth could significantly impact global emissions. It’s noteworthy that India aims for zero emissions by 2070, focusing on fossil fuels and methane but not directly addressing human-generated carbon dioxide emissions, which could be substantial with a projected population of 2 billion by 2050.

Global Concerns:

While India targets economic and industrial growth, it cannot provide sufficient employment opportunities at the necessary scale. Consequently, unemployed or low-skilled Indians may seek migration to less populated, developed countries, potentially causing demographic disruptions and creating problems abroad.

This situation is already apparent in European countries, the USA, and Canada. Although current Indian migration levels are moderate, they could escalate in the future.

India’s large population and high unemployment levels, contributing to social unrest, are valid global concerns. Statements like a former US President’s unfounded claim about Indians causing food shortages highlight potential misunderstandings about challenges posed by overpopulated countries like India.

Government Action:

During the last decade of Prime Minister Modi’s governance, attention to India’s population density and growth has been inadequate. However, during the latter part of his second term, a committee was appointed to study these issues. It is hoped that during his third term, Prime Minister Modi will prioritize this problem and implement measures to curb population growth as much as possible.


N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause and to promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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