M A I N   N E W S

Amidst cheers & fears, Earth home to 7bn
Arrival of two baby girls in Uttar Pradesh and Manila marks the milestone
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, October 31
The world’s population today crossed the seven billion mark with the arrival of two baby girls, one in India and the other in Philippines.
That the birth of girls should mark the milestone is good augury in times when there’s greater evidence than ever before to point out that women have a larger role to play in population stabilisation.

As the world welcomed its symbolic 7 billionth babies -- Nargis born to Ajay and Vineeta in Mal, 20 km from Lucknow, and Danica May Camacho born in Manila - UN Population Fund Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin commented, “Given greater opportunities and rights, women make decisions that slow population growth, and this impact is being seen worldwide.”

His sentiment was echoed by policy planners back home, with the Registrar General of India and Census Commission C Chandramauli pointing out that now is India’s best chance of reducing population and sustaining that reduction.

“Census 2011 revealed rapid strides in female literacy. Not only was female literacy more than male literacy in urban and rural areas, even the gap between the two had reduced substantially. If this trend continues, women’s aspirations for smaller families and better standards of living will grow. This will fuel population stabilisation,” Chandramauli told The Tribune today.

Asked how he viewed today’s landmark, the Census Commissioner said it was a “mixed event”. “We must celebrate the arrival of every child but we must also seriously introspect. According to projections, we will cross China’s population in 2030. This is a revised projection. Earlier, we were to cross China’s numbers in 2060. We must work to revise the 2030 projection and push beyond,” he said.

The Registrar General pointed out that current trends in population reduction were promising and if sustained, they could prevent us from crossing China’s population by 2030. “A revision of 2030 is very much possible provided we sustain our gains. For the first time in three Censuses, our most populated states showed a decline of 4% in population growth rate in 2011. Decadal growth rate of population also declined for the first time ever to 17.64%. It had been otherwise rising. Uttar Pradesh, which had been growing in excess of 25% in three Censuses, grew at 20% in 2011. This was true of other populous states. If we sustain these levels, we can surprise ourselves,” Chandramauli said.

Census 2011 trends showed that the population growth in UP dropped from 26 to 20% between two decades; in Bihar from 29 to 25%; in MP from 24 to 20% and in Rajasthan from 28 to 21%.

Chandramauli further pointed out that in 2011, India posted a record high gap in its numbers with China. “The population gap between India and China was 238 million in 2011. In 2011 it was just 131 million. This means we can do well provided we create an enabling environment powered by education and health where couples realise the importance of smaller families. Our strategy must be multi-pronged and the focus should be on improving the quality of people and reducing their quality by population stabilisation,” he said.

The RGI described investments in the education and skill development of youth as critical if the fruits of demographic dividend are to be reaped.


A Crowded world

l China (19%) and India (17%) together make up 36% of the world population

l It took just 12 years for the world to reach from 6 to 7-billion mark. World population did not reach 1 billion until 1804. It took 123 years to reach 2 billion in 1927, 33 years to reach 3 billion in 1960, 14 years to reach 4 billion in 1974, 13 years to reach 5 billion in 1987 and 12 years to reach 6 billion in 1999

l World population projected to nearly stabilise at just above 10 billion after 2200





Now, a portal to tell you your ‘human number’
Suresh Dharur/TNS

Hyderabad, October 31
What exactly is your “human number”? How many people lived on Earth the day you were born and how many had lived before you? And how old were you when the world population touched 5 billion or 6 billion?

As India, along with the rest of the world, welcomed the arrival of seven billionth baby today, the United Nations Population Fund has come up with a special website, with interactive application, that tells the users about their position in the human story.

The website www.7billionandme.org serves as a ready reckoner, allowing users to relate their own personal characteristics - such as age, sex, date and place of birth, and current residence - to the rest of the world’s 7 billion people. Want to know where do you fit into this story of human life? Just fill in your date of birth in the column provided and instantly comes out your “human” number. To create awareness about population control, the UNFPA has created this website. It is part of the 7 Billion Actions initiative aimed at engaging people from all walks of life in the opportunities and challenges presented by a world of 7 billion people.

The individuals will be able to know answers to questions like “how many people lived on earth the day he or she was born, how old was he or she when world population reached five billion, six billion or 7 billion, how old will one be when the world population reaches eight billion or nine billion, and how many people have lived before an individual was born”.

There are also answers to questions like how many mothers had babies the day your mother gave birth to you; are you younger or older than most of the people in your country; and how many residents did your city have when you were born or when you moved there and how many live there now?

The calculator is based on the population data estimates by the UN Population Division, United Nations Population Fund, and other UN bodies like the Global Footprint Network and the International Telecom-munications Union.

Since 1965, the population of the world has more than doubled.





Growing world population triggers food security worries
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 31
The world population today touched the 7 billion mark, logically a cause for worry for planners in terms of food security. Concerns over the burgeoning population’s impact on the environment has led to apprehensions that the world may not be able to feed its inhabitants in future.

Surprisingly though, food experts say the number of people on the earth vis-à-vis the available food is not a problem and nor will it be either in the near or even the very remote future. Basing their arguments on what they call hard facts, they say the world is producing sufficient food to feed the 7 billion today and even the estimated 9 billion in 2050.

The reason behind the rising number of hungry people, they say, is pattern of access to and distribution of food. Add to this huge chunks of arable land going out of circulation for industrialisation and real estate development, and the picture is complete. Consider this: Two million hectare land has gone out of circulation in India in the past 10 years.

The issue of population versus food is succinctly explained by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who recently said, “This is not a story about numbers. This is a story about people.”

“Plenty of food, but still a billion people going to bed hungry every night. Many people enjoy luxurious lifestyles, but still many are impoverished,” he recently stated in an interview.

The fact is the world today is producing sufficient quantities to feed the estimated population even 90 years down the line in 2099, says food policy analyst Devinder Sharma.

Despite excess of food, one billion people in the world (one-third of which live here in India) are hungry and he blames the “man-made” crisis on food habits of a few nations. The real problem is management of food access and distribution.

Sharma says unless policies are devised for a more equitable and judicious distribution of food, the number of hungry in the world will only increase.

“FAO’s State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011” highlights the impact that the world food crisis of 2006-08 had on different countries, with the poorest being the most affected.

National Food Security Bill

l Consultation process on the crucial National Food Security Bill is almost over and the draft Bill will be presented to the Cabinet by November 20.

l "I propose to finish all the work and bring the draft National Food Security Bill to the Cabinet before November 20," Food Minister KV Thomas said, adding, "Consultation process is almost over and we have got the views of almost all the state governments except Andhra Pradesh. The proposed Bill aims to provide the right to subsidised foodgrains to nearly 70% of the country's population."

l Thomas had, last Saturday, discussed the legislation with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.





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