Since the origin of life on Earth till 1800, there was one billion people all over the globe. Then the second billion was added during the very next century. Worryingly in the first half of the twentieth century, we were 3 billion. But the pace of population growth onward since 1950 has been astounding. The world has been growing one billion every 10 to 12 years recently. Besides, India's share alone is significant and is still ascending.
Should this growth not be brought under control? The crucial question for our survival is whether the earth can support the growing population by the end of this century. The economists are hopeful that the earth is capable of supporting many more in the short run. There is no substance in Malthus' theory of population that rising population can be the cause of massive starvation. Coupled with this increase is the fact that life expectancy over the world has gone up to about seventy years.
Amidst the present scenario, we have been witnessing favourable aspects for the last forty years. The growth rate of world's population has declined. The average number of children born per woman in India has fallen from five in 1950 to about 2.5 recently. Nearly two-thirds of women under fifty use contraceptives. In the process, a large number of deaths in childbirth and millions of abortions are averted each year. This news is gladly welcome.
No wonder that our growth should be measured in prosperity and not in numbers and flawed indicators in the form of GDP. We have to see how we satisfy basic human needs and how well we develop dignity, cooperation and brotherhood. We have not been able to achieve even one of the indicators of prosperity. Nearly half of the world lives on US $2 a day or less. More than eight million people in India live in slums. An astronomical number of people were estimated to be suffering from chronic hunger in lack of getting enough food to conduct an active life.
Despite the fact that the world produced 2.3 billion metric tons of food capable of sustaining 9 to 12 billion people, only 46% of the produce was available for human consumption because 34% of the total production went to domestic animals and rest were utilized for industrial purposes. Earth can definitely support our and even more people. But the future population scenario is changing. The numbers will not matter. The number of households will matter. People will like to look after their children well and establish small households. The need of more energy and more public utility services will place a huge burden on our productive technologies and natural resources.
In fact, we need a strategy to make the world liveable so that those who are living in it may lead a life supportive of their basic needs. For achieving this desirable goal, one strategy cannot do all. However, there are some priorities to be kept in mind. Voluntary contraception, support services, universal primary and secondary education, alleviation from hunger, food for lactating and pregnant mothers as well as for children under five years head the list of priorities.