The Government of India and its thoughtful citizens have been aware of the problems posed by the rapid growth of India's population during the past decade and a half; but the adverse economic circumstances of the last two or three years brought home to them, as nothing had done in the past, the disturbing nature of India's population explosion. The psychological climate necessary for the serious implementation of the family-planning program had arrived.
The dimensions and magnitude of India's population problem may be briefly recalled. India's total population passed the 520 million mark in mid-1968. That is, one out of every seven persons in the world is a citizen of India. With only 2.4 percent of the world's total land area, India has to support 14 percent of the world's total population. To this population a baby is born every second and a half, 21 million births a year, a birth rate of 41 per thousand per year. Some 8 million persons die every year-a high death rate of 16 per thousand per year. Thus the nation adds 13 million people- Australia's present population-to the existing population every year. The population is growing at the rate of slightly over 2.5 percent per year. And at the current rate of increase it may double itself in the next 28 years, reaching the incredible figure of one billion before the end of this century.
The major cause of this high rate of growth is not so much the high birth rate as the increasing success, in terms of Asian standards, with which India's health and medical services have been implemented in the last three five-year plans. Major communicable diseases like cholera, malaria and smallpox have been nearly brought under control and measures to eradicate them are now being put into effect. And, in response to these relatively improved health conditions, life expectancy has risen from 32 years in 1950 to 51 years in 1968.
But India has also registered remarkable progress in both the agricultural and industrial sectors during the last 20 years of her political freedom. This