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With 1,210,000,000 (1.21 billion) people, India is currently the world's second largest country. India crossed the one billion mark in the year 2000, one year after the world's population crossed the six billion threshold.
Demographers expect India's population to surpass the population of China, currently the most populous country in the world, by 2030. At that time, India is expected to have a population of more than 1.53 billion while China's population is forecast to be at its peak of 1.46 billion (and will begin to drop in subsequent years).
India is currently home to about 1.21 billion people, representing a full 17% of the earth's population. India's 2011 census showed that the country's population had grown by 181 million people in the prior decade.
History of India's Population
When India gained independence from the United Kingdom sixty years ago, the country's population was a mere 350 million. Since 1947, the population of India has more than tripled.
In 1950, India's total fertility rate was approximately 6 (children per woman). Nonetheless, since 1952 India has worked to control its population growth. In 1983, the goal of the country's National Health Policy was to have a replacement value total fertility rate of 2.1 by the year 2000. That did not occur.
In 2000, the country established a new National Population Policy to stem the growth of the country's population. One of the primary goals of the policy was to reduce the total fertility rate to 2.1 by 2010. One of the steps along the path toward the goal in 2010 was a total fertility rate of 2.6 by 2002.
As the total fertility rate in India remains at the high number of 2.8, that goal was not achieved so it is highly unlikely that the total fertility rate will be 2.1 by 2010. Thus, India's population will continue to grow at a rapid rate. The U.S. Census Bureau does predict a near-replacement total fertility rate of 2.2 to be achieved in India in the year 2050.
India's high population growth results in increasingly impoverished and sub-standard conditions for growing segments of the Indian population. As of 2007, India ranked 126th on the United Nations' Human Development Index, which takes into account social, health, and educational conditions in a country.
Population projections for India anticipate that the country's population will reach 1.5 to 1.8 billion by 2050. While only the Population Reference Bureau has published projections out to 2100, they expect India's population at the close of the twenty-first century to reach 1.853 to 2.181 billion. Thus, India is expected to become the first and only country on the planet that will ever reach a population of more than 2 billion (recall that China's population is likely to drop after reaching a peak of about 1.46 billion in 2030 and the U.S. isn't ever likely to see a billion).
Although India has created several impressive goals to reduce its population growth rates, India and the rest of the world has a long way to go to achieve meaningful population controls in this country with a growth rate of 1.6%, representing a doubling time of under 44 years.