The country of India has been faced with many problems. They have very important short-term problems, which means less time is spent on long term problems. Natural World disasters, wars, drought, and other major problems are more important to these people than such things as over population, pollution, literacy rate and their currency. In this essay I will state the major problems hassling this country. I will give as many statistics as possible, try to decide how to improve these problems, and how we as a developed country, can contribute and help this one billion-person country grow strong.
India is the seventh largest country in the World. Approximately 14.5% of the Worlds population live in India. There are more people in India than there are in North and South America together. There is a great diversity in the people of India. Some have great wealth. Others have only a few cents a day to survive on, and a great percentage of the people are homeless. While some attend University and benefit from free education, many more sleep in the streets and have never gone to school.
India has many natural resources. It was once thought of as a very wealthy country. There is farmland and ore. The standard of living is very low, partially because these resources have not been fully developed. Living conditions deteriorate yearly because of the huge population growth.
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A few statistics that give us some idea of the crowded living conditions and standard of living: Life expectancy in India in 1965 was 45 years and in 1883, 53 years. Compared to this Canada was 72 in 1965, and 75 in 1983. The Towards Tomorrow text book said, "China has 7% of the World's arable land. Canada has 3% but only.5% of the World's people. In China this equals 1/10 of a hector per person. This is 1/9 of the amount in the U.S.A. and ½ the amount in India" (1987, pg. 42,)
The birth rate of India in 1983 was 34 and the death rate was 14. The population growth of 2%, even with extensive birth control efforts has remained the same. It is difficult to exert pressure on the people due to the democratic political system.
The population of India is second only to China. The population in 1901 was 238,396,000. The population in 2003 is projected to be 1,069,021,000. If this rate continues without enforcement of birth control, India's population will be more than China's by 2040. There are 777 people per square mile.
This country cannot sustain its people. Education, a necessity for population control, is encouraged. There is free schooling for children 6-14 but because they do not have the money to build schools and train teachers, 70% of the population are illiterate. Most children drop out of school by age 11.
India ranks fifth among the World's nations in total farm area. Large Indian farms belong to landlords who hire workers. New land reforms have come in giving farmers the right to own their own land. This seemed like a positive step but because of Hindu inheritance customs, the land must be divided among all a man's sons. The share has become too small to provide a living. As a result many families move to urban areas where many live on the streets. This introduces yet another problem. Because of lack of space people take turns sleeping, food is prepared on the floor, people bath and shave in public. There are no windows or chimneys for fresh air and the water supplies are limited. Disease and death run wild.
Most Indian people do not eat well. Bread makes up most of their diet. The country has a high death rate because of poor living conditions and diet. Again, the government has taken great steps to fight disease, but as with education, they cannot keep up with the number of clinics and medical personnel needed.
Even with its many exports of cotton, peanuts, rice, tea, tobacco, brass, silverware, iron, and leather goods, India is a very poor nation. The average income in India is less than eighty dollars a year. When India became independent from Great Britain, the government had plans to raise the standard of living. Industrial production increased, farm production increased, and even with the huge population explosion the standard of living improved. India pays for it's economic improvements but depends on grants and loans from other countries to buy goods and machinery. All these efforts however fall short of the countries needs.
A solution put forth was to grow high yielding wheats. India had great success. It expanded its wheat output from 10 to 26 million tons from 1964 to 1992. In the early 1980's they achieved 35 million tons. This enabled them to dispense with wheat imports. The Towards Tomorrow textbook said,
"Cities say the increase in grain production have been achieved at the expense of social justice. Rich farmers have gained the most. The gap between the rich and poor has widened as a result." (1987, pg. 102)
India's land is divided into four areas says the World Book Encyclopedia, "14% of the land is irrigated, 41% is non irrigated farmland, 19% is forest land and 26% is barren land." (1999, vol.10, pg.124) The chief crops grown are rice, wheat, cotton, and nuts. Agriculture provides one half of India's national income. India does not grow enough food to give its people a proper diet. This is partially due to inefficient farming methods and poor equipment.
The World Book Encyclopedia says, "India's foreign trade is over two billion dollars a year. The volume of the imports is much greater than that of the exports." (1983, vol. 10, pg.106) India has one of the largest economies in the World in terms of its GDP. India is considered as a developing country, however, because it has such a large population that the GDP is very low per capita. It is considered one of the poorest countries in the World.
In review there are several solutions that could help India deal with its population crisis and declining standard of living. They are,
1. Improved education, so people can move beyond a "peasant existence" with no understanding of self worth and life management.
2. Structure government control over birth control. (Similar to China's)
3. Improved understanding of agriculture techniques, technology, and land management.
4. Education of nutrition and sanitation.
5. Any aide from foreign countries must be directed at making India self supporting.
India is a Country of great wealth and potential. It is also a country of intense poverty and ignorance. I see one of the biggest problems in India being the differences. There are many different languages, religions, races, and customs. There are also many differences in the country itself. The land includes desert, thick jungles, broad plains, mountains, and tropical low lands. All these differences within one country create different needs, and different standards of living. It is however; very evident none of these differences can be addressed until the population is controlled. It is and will become even more of a problem for all the people of India, the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich.
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