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India Set to Overtake China as World’s Most Populous Country by June 2021: United Nations Report Reveals Challenges and Opportunities Ahead

According to the United Nations' new ‘State of World Population' report, India is set to overtake China as the world's most populous country by the end of June.[0] India's population is expected to reach 1.4286 billion, compared to China's 1.4257 billion by the middle of this year.[1] As per government data cited by Reuters, India has witnessed a decrease in its population growth rate from 1.7% in the previous decade to an average of 1.2% since 2011.[2] The shift means that India's population is now home to nearly a fifth of humanity, or more than the entire population of the Americas or Africa or Europe.[3] The demographic data released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that a quarter of India's population is under 14 years of age, while 18 per cent are between 10 and 19, 26 per cent between 10 and 24, and 68 per cent were between 15 and 64 years old.[4] Seven per cent are over the age of 65.[4]

The demographic shift poses major economic and social challenges for the Asian giants as they struggle to adapt.[5] However, the gentle slope of the demographic curve propelling India into first place looks enviable to the many developed nations that are rapidly aging.[6] The lifespan of Indians has increased while the annual count of newborns has remained relatively stagnant.[6] In contrast to China's struggle with the aftermath of its one-child policy, India is not confronted with a sudden decline that could bring about economic and social risks.[6] It has a young and expanding workforce as China's grays and contracts.[6]

However, there are significant obstacles that accompany this chance.[6] The potential advantage of the “demographic dividend” may turn into a calamity.[6] India has managed to surpass China in recent years and is now recognized as the major economy with the fastest growth rate.[6] However, its expansion has not been rapid enough to generate adequate formal employment opportunities for all.[6] To maintain the current pace, India requires approximately nine million new job opportunities every year. However, due to the annual deficit, many individuals are forced to resort to the traditional agricultural sector as a means of livelihood.[6] According to Poonam Muttreja, the executive director of the Population Foundation of India, India needs to take advantage of the current demographic dividend window but won't be able to if investment doesn't pick up pace. This was reported by Financial Times.[7] India needs to accelerate its pace and focus on investing in its youth to achieve its goals.[7]

0. “At 142.86 cr, India to be most populous by June-end, will surpass China by 29L” The Tribune India, 20 Apr. 2023, https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/at-142-86-cr-india-to-be-most-populous-by-june-end-will-surpass-china-by-29l-498990

1. “India's Population Surpasses China's, Shifting the World's ‘Center of Gravity'” The Wall Street Journal, 14 Apr. 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/india-china-population-economy-9dd7bf27

2. “India's population is on the brink of overtaking China's, UN says” CNBC, 19 Apr. 2023, https://www.cnbc.com/2023/04/19/indias-population-is-on-the-brink-of-overtaking-chinas-un-says.html

3. “Behind India’s population numbers” The Indian Express, 20 Apr. 2023, https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/behind-indias-population-numbers-8565778

4. “India set to pass China in population race. Beijing says, ‘Want to tell you…'” Hindustan Times, 19 Apr. 2023, https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/india-overtakes-china-in-population-race-beijing-says-want-to-tell-you-101681898049999.html

5. “Explainer: What India Passing China to Become World's Most-Populous Nation Means” Bloomberg, 19 Apr. 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-04-19/explainer-what-india-passing-china-to-become-world-s-most-populous-nation-means

6. “Will This Be the ‘Indian Century'? Four Key Questions” The New York Times, 19 Apr. 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/04/19/world/asia/india-china-population.html

7. “India to surpass China as world’s most populous country by mid-2023, says UN” Yahoo News, 19 Apr. 2023, https://news.yahoo.com/india-surpass-china-world-most-195150341.html

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