India overtakes China as the most Populous country of the world

Sometime in 2023, according to the United Nations, India will officially overtake China as the world’s most populous country, a dubious honour I feel should have not happened in the first place. India probably already has overtaken China, but because the next census has not happened (the last was in 2011), it will only be confirmed sometime later this year.

India is fast becoming the world’s most populous country, surpassing China. According to United Nations projections, India’s population is expected to reach 1.7 billion by 2050, compared to China’s 1.4 billion. This shift in demographic dominance has significant implications for both countries and the world at large.

According to the U.N.’s World Population Dashboard, China still had slightly more people than India at the end of 2022: 1.4485 billion, compared to India’s 1.4066 billion. But China’s population has stabilized and is set to shrink, while India’s is still growing pretty fast.

More babies are born each year in India than in any other country in the world. The U.N. estimates more than 24 million annually, but the true number is likely higher because many births never get registered. Compared to previous generations, these newborn Indians are more likely to be born in a hospital than at home; more likely to survive to adulthood; more likely to become literate, educated and multilingual; and more likely to migrate within their lifetime, to different parts of their own country or the rest of the world. And if efforts to eradicate female feticide are successful, the next generation of Indians will have more females than in recent decades.

One factor driving India’s population growth is its young and rapidly growing working-age population. While China’s population is ageing, with a rapidly growing elderly population, India’s population is relatively youthful, with a large number of people in their prime working years. This demographic advantage is likely to fuel India’s economic growth in the coming years and support its rise as a major player in the global economy. Another factor contributing to India’s population growth is its high birth rate. Despite a decline in recent years, India still has one of the highest birth rates in the world, with an average of 2.5 children per woman. This high birth rate, combined with increased access to healthcare and improved living standards, has led to a rapid increase in life expectancy, further fueling population growth. However, India’s population growth also poses major challenges, including pressure on resources, infrastructure, and social services. The country is already facing major challenges in providing adequate housing, healthcare, and education to its rapidly growing population, and the government will need to address these issues to ensure sustainable economic growth.

The impact of India overtaking China as the most populous country in 2023 is likely to have several implications. As the world’s most populous country, India is likely to gain increased political and economic influence on the global stage, but with a rapidly growing population, India may face challenges such as providing adequate employment opportunities, housing, healthcare, and education to its citizens. The growing population is likely to put pressure on the country’s natural resources, such as water, land, and food, leading to potential resource scarcity and environmental degradation and there may be a population shift as a result of migration from rural to urban areas, leading to increased urbanisation and the need for infrastructure development in cities. Changes to the labour market, potentially affecting industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, and the service sector are also very likely.

From an economic perspective, the impact of India becoming the world’s most populous country will most likely be mixed. India’s large population could provide a significant labour force that could be an advantage for the economy in terms of increased productivity and economic growth. With a large and growing population, the country has the potential to become a major consumer market, attracting investment and driving economic growth. But the rapid population growth may put pressure on resources and infrastructure such as water, food, and energy, potentially leading to resource scarcity and inflation. Providing adequate infrastructure and services to a rapidly growing population, such as housing, healthcare, and education, can be a challenge and may require significant investments. If the population growth is accompanied by a favourable age structure, with a large proportion of working-age people, it could lead to a demographic dividend, driving economic growth. As the world’s most populous country, India may face increased competition with China for global economic influence and market share in various industries.

Having a large demographic of young people gives India an edge over many other economies, which are facing an ageing population. With more than half of the country under the age of 25, India has a massive potential workforce to propel economic growth. While India does not face an ageing workforce, the challenge is ensuring there are enough jobs, and that its people have the right education and skills for those jobs, according to experts.

Since 1947, India has transformed from a subcontinent impoverished by British colonial rule to an Asian regional power with big urban centres of technology, innovation, constant construction and growth. There are projections that India will overtake Germany and Japan to become the world’s third-largest economy, possibly by 2030. China will achieve its peak population size in 2022 whereas India will continue to experience momentum for several decades to come, before the population stabilizes and this represents a great opportunity for the country. But the challenge is for India to create enough opportunities in education and employment for all of these young people streaming into India’s big cities or being born in them. The country needs to keep pace with the growth of the population by providing health care, education, and the conditions for jobs. In a country where women and girls don’t have decision-making power, especially in rural and semi-urban areas where they have lower levels of literacy and where they’re not able to exercise their reproductive rights and choices, it is important to give them the voice the need and deserve.

India’s rise as the world’s most populous country has significant implications for both the country and the world. While its youthful population and high birth rate hold the potential for economic growth, the government must address the challenges posed by rapid population growth to ensure a sustainable future for its citizens.

In My Hands Today…

Watching the Tree – Adeline Yen Mah

Adeline Yen Mah was born in Tianjin, and through the conversations and wisdom of her grandfather and aunt learnt a great deal of traditional Chinese thought, history and religion. Through her father’s second marriage to a Eurasian woman, and their subsequent move to Hong Kong, she learnt more about the Chinese attitudes to business and to family, and the strength of the Chinese in exile.

Since living in London and California, Adeline Yen Mah has studied Chinese thought, looking at both the strengths and weaknesses which it gives those who follow it and now, in ‘Watching the Tree’, she takes us on a journey through the Chinese language, religions and history, using both Chinese proverbs and her own experiences, to bring to us an understanding of the richness of China and the ways that we can take and use some of the wisdom for ourselves in the West.

In My Hands Today…

Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao’s Revolution – Helen Zia

Shanghai has historically been China’s jewel, its richest, most modern and westernized city. The bustling metropolis was home to sophisticated intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and a thriving middle class when Mao’s proletarian revolution emerged victorious from the long civil war.

Terrified of the horrors the Communists would wreak upon their lives, citizens of Shanghai who could afford to fled in every direction. Seventy years later, members of the last generation to fully recall this massive exodus have revealed their stories to Chinese American journalist Helen Zia, who interviewed hundreds of exiles about their journey through one of the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century.

From these moving accounts, Zia weaves together the stories of four young Shanghai residents who wrestled with the decision to abandon everything for an uncertain life as refugees in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the United States.

Benny, who as a teenager became the unwilling heir to his father’s dark wartime legacy, must decide either to escape to Hong Kong or navigate the intricacies of a newly Communist China. The resolute Annuo, forced to flee her home with her father, a defeated Nationalist official, becomes an unwelcome exile in Taiwan. The financially strapped Ho fights deportation from the U.S. in order to continue his studies while his family struggles at home. And Bing, given away by her poor parents, faces the prospect of a new life among strangers in America. The lives of these men and women are marvelously portrayed, revealing the dignity and triumph of personal survival.

In My Hands Today…

Shanghai Grand: Forbidden Love and International Intrigue in a Doomed World – Taras Grescoe

On the eve of WWII, the foreign-controlled port of Shanghai was the rendezvous for the twentieth century’s most outlandish adventurers, all under the watchful eye of the fabulously wealthy Sir Victor Sassoon.

Emily “Mickey” Hahn was a legendary New Yorker journalist whose vivid writing played a crucial role in opening Western eyes to the realities of life in China.

At the height of the Depression, Hahn arrived in Shanghai after a disappointing affair with an alcoholic Hollywood screenwriter, convinced she will never love again. After checking in to Sassoon’s glamorous Cathay Hotel, Hahn is absorbed into the social swirl of the expats drawn to pre-war China, among them Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn, Harold Acton, and a colourful gangster named Morris “Two-Gun” Cohen. But when she meets Zau Sinmay, a Chinese poet from an illustrious family, she discovers the real Shanghai through his eyes: the city of rich colonials, triple agents, opium-smokers, displaced Chinese peasants, and increasingly desperate White Russian and Jewish refugees—a place her innate curiosity will lead her to explore first hand. Danger lurks on the horizon, though, as the brutal Japanese occupation destroys the seductive world of pre-war Shanghai, paving the way for Mao Tse-tung’s Communists rise to power.

In My Hands Today…

Remembering Shanghai: A Memoir of Socialites, Scholars and Scoundrels – Claire Chao and Isabel Sun Chao

A high position bestowed by China’s empress dowager grants power and wealth to the Sun family. For Isabel, growing up in glamorous 1930s and ’40s Shanghai, it is a life of utmost privilege. But while her scholar father and fashionable mother shelter her from civil war and Japanese occupation, they cannot shield the family forever.

When Mao comes to power, eighteen-year-old Isabel journeys to Hong Kong, not realizing that she will make it her home–and that she will never see her father again. Meanwhile, the family she has left behind struggles to survive, only to have their world shattered by the Cultural Revolution. Isabel returns to Shanghai fifty years later with her daughter, Claire, to confront their family’s past–one they discover is filled with love and betrayal, kidnappers and concubines, glittering pleasure palaces and underworld crime bosses.

Lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched, Remembering Shanghai follows five generations from a hardscrabble village to vibrant Shanghai to the bright lights of Hong Kong. By turns harrowing and heartwarming, this vivid memoir explores identity, loss and the unpredictable nature of life against the epic backdrop of a nation and a people in turmoil.