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Population In India

India holds the second largest population in the entire world, with an estimated 1.3 billion people currently living in the country. Although holding such a large and strong population, Indian population as a whole lived through several fluctuations in population size between the 19th and  21st century.  Changes in reproductive health such as a lower fertility rate along with lower birth rates were also seen. Fertility is still problem see in modern India and scientist are trying to find an underlining cause for the issue, possibly tracing it back to history. Social structure also played a role in the decline in population due to the caste system and the working class determination to work during unfortunate times. There were many changes in this historical period, such as agriculture change, which caused famine and starvation to the population. A strong and wholesome population is important for a sustainable and efficient society and economy. Now on the rise, India’s population was not always steady on an exponential growth.

Behind China, India holds the largest country on the face of the planet in terms of population but not size. With a large dense population, it becomes difficult for a country to feed all of its people. Large dense populations also tend to spread disease very effectively, and a simple cold can turn into an epidemic. A population of this size produces a lot of demand for food, which can lead to food shortages. Food shortages as seen in the 19th century caused infertility rates to rise and starvation to increase. Along with famine, social sex status showed a drastically concerning  decline in female population in just 20 years. There are so many factors that can contribute and come from population increase and decrease. Diseases, factors of infertility, and famine caused population growth to decline drastically between the 19th century and 20th century.

60 t0  80 million couples are effected by infertility worldwide, according to an estimate put out by the World Health Organization. Infertility is a problem that effects people worldwide. Recent studies and advancements at the Pearl Singapore Fertility Centre in Chennai, India brought forth advancements that make these methods more efficient. Experts have improved in vitro fertilization procedures by using frozen healthy embryos versus fresh ones. Scientist have also made advancements in the DNA that is being used for the embryos, this making it easier to help eliminate possibilities of genetic disorders and birth defects. (1)” A sperm DNA fragmentation test is also an advanced method, before going for IVF procedures.” In this test, the DNA of the sperm can be checked for any damage in the DNA of the sperm. By this method, the mutated DNA of the sperm can be discarded. This prevents genetic disorders in the child and other congenital birth defects. The success rate of pregnancies is 60 percent in these methods.” Connecting back to the class, in vitro fertilization and the scientific advancements affects Humans and The Environment. Humans are using and researching these new advancements to further even bigger problems with infertility and birth defects. It is possible that with more research and studies, humans can eliminate certain birth defects that we have been dealing with for centuries.

An issue that effects 8 to 12 per cent of the entire world population adverts many questions. A global known cause of infertility that is very obvious to researchers is the prolonged effects of sexual transmitted infections(STI’s). A study done in Central India focusing specifically on the effects of infertility rates in men and women effected with genital tuberculosis. Common among mostly Indian women, genital tuberculosis is reported to be a common factor in infertility. In most cases, genital tuberculosis has no signs or symptoms making it a dangerous asymptomatic disease. The results found were shocking to scientist, out of the 250 infertile women who were test, 170 tested positive for genital tuberculosis. The prevalence of the STI in these women brought forth conclusions on the connection of sexual transmitted diseases and infertility, also providing possible answers to the growth of infertility in the are.

Fertility and reproduction is really important for men and women in India. The importance of being a mother is a cultural aspect that is very prevalent and passed down from generation to generation. Dr Vineet Malhotra, Clinical Director, DIYOS Men’s Health Centre, held a press conference discussing the lack of attention and research done on make infertility. Male complications are believed to be either solely or partly responsible in about 40 percent of all infertility cases, but in India there are very few male infertility specialist.(2) ” In India men are going undiagnosed and untreated. Around 50 per cent of male infertility problems are treatable, but unfortunately this is commonly overlooked. This medical myopia results in women undergoing unnecessary IVF procedures; with all the inherent costs and emotional distress they can cause,” said Dr Ashok Agarwal, Director, Department of Reproductive Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, USA. In hopes for a change after this discover, India has just recently set up their first center specializing in male fertilization.

Although India has seen an increase in infertilization in the population, many couples from neighboring countries have been fleeing to nearby Indian fertility clinics for hope. Clinics are seeing more Afghanistan men in their clinic as they claim that,(3) “All the good doctors in Afghanistan have migrated.” This is seen to be beneficial for not only the travelers, but the doctors and researchers at the clinic. The wider range of data from neighboring countries allows scientist to conduct research that could help more than just India. The bigger picture allows more case study ideas bringing up different possibilities for the increase in Indian infertilization.

The sex imbalance in India causes problems in terms of future of population. Not until 1996, was matter taken into hand over misuse in sex determination for selective abortions. Prior to the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PNDT), an estimated of 10 million fetuses were aborted within twenty years, prior to just 1996. This was originally a social problem, women were looked at poorly in society, and families, especially those in poverty, could not afford and did not want female children. Religion was also a contributing factor for the view towards women; India has strictly practiced Hinduism, which put men about women. Men had an opportunity for education, therefore more money to bring to their families and they were higher in socially standards over women. This decreased the population because not only were 10 million fetuses aborted, but also those 10 million females had no chance to reproduce. This caused a decrease in female to male ratios, in almost all areas in India, while considering other factors such as household income, parental education, social caste, and rural versus urban areas. The chances of families having a male child went up significantly in every one of these categories effecting the present Indian population.

Indian mortality rates in nineteenth century India involves primarily around the issues of famine. It is hard for a population to strive and be able to successfully reproduce and contribute to a working society when there is little dire will to work. The Famine report of 1899-1900 links famine with the changes seen in the time periods fertility rate, (4)”that famine interfered with the productiveness of the people.” Logically this statement makes sense when thinking about starvation and willingness to work. Analyzing this more famine more, it proves that there are more than negative outcomes then just food shortages. The decline in population effected the annual reports of food production as less people were willing and available to work. The population then increased only after two years of the famine.

Figure 1

Before The Famine Code of 1880, over 50 million people in India were reported victims of starvation. India, since the early 19th century has experienced famine and agricultural challenges. Besides obvious natural causes of hunger in a population, the issue can also be traced back to political issues. India’s government is far from a democracy because of their beliefs in the caste systems, which interferes with food production and distribution between the different castes. Between 1900 and 1950 India improved in terms of decreasing their mass mortality rate due to starvation but the working class was still starved. The inefficiency and quality of work decreased with the starving workers and after 1943, India started to see another famine. As production decreased and political interference with distribution increased, many began to experience malnutrition throughout the population also leading to an increase in disease.

Figure 3

The power of disease has the potential to devastate an entire population. Cholera is a deadly disease found in the waters on the Ganges River in Bengal. The disease was seen in Indians after Britain invaded and infected them in the early 1800s. There was no cure founded for cholera until the 1940s, but the disease is still present in the rivers today. Between the decades of 1900-1909, over 411,000 Indian lives were taken by cholera starting an epidemic for a cure, as further decades were experiencing on average a quarter million death. Since water is a limited source in India, the infected rivers were to be the only option for use although it continued to make civilians sick. Although numbers drastically decreased after medical professional and scientist produced a cure, the water tested in the Ganges River still tested positive for cholera.

Figure 2

Population over centuries is almost expected to fluctuate. Over the years, there has been an extended amount of global research on fertility. Although recent scientist have been trying to pin point not only solutions, but underlying causes of why a man or women could become infertile. Research has shown that different factors such has biological, genetic and environmental problems can effect someones ability to reproduce, but that varies from place to place, making research harder to evaluate and share over large populations. Other factors that contribute to population decrease involving infertility was the famine in the 19th century. The famine also caused food production to decrease along with working rates. Disease, such as cholera devastated population and still effects India to this date. Diseases, factors of infertility, and famine contributed to the decline of population growth between the 19th century and 20th century.


The New Indian Express,”Experts Discuss Advancements in Infertility Management”,Chennai, India, April 14,2015.

(1)International Journal of Infectious Diseases, ” Genital Tuberculosis- A Silent Infection in Infertile Indian Population.” Elsiever Ltd, December 2008.

(2)United Nations. Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis”Women’s education and fertility behaviour : a case-study of rural Maharashtra, India”, Jejeebhoy, Shireen J. 1993

(3)“Indian Women Suffer as Male Infertility Goes Untreated.” DNA.Sunday, Dec 04, 2016.

(4)Betigeri, Aarti. “Afghans Flock to India for Infertility Treatment.” The Christian Science Monitor, Feb 10, 2013.

Subramanian, S V, and S. Selvaraj. “Social Analysis of Sex Imbalance in India: Before and after the Implementation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (1979-) 63, no. 3 (2009): 245-52.

Amrith, Sunil S. “Food and Welfare in India, C. 1900-1950.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 50, no. 4 (2008): 1010-1015.

Watts, Sheldon. “From Rapid Change to Stasis: Official Responses to Cholera in British-Ruled India and Egypt: 1860 to C. 1921.” Journal of World History 12, no. 2 (2001): 321-328.

(5)India’s Historical Demography. Guz, Debrah. Population Dynamics of Famine in Punjab, 1896-1907 and 1899-1900. Edited by Tim Dyson. Vol. 8. COLLECTED PAPERS ON SOUTH ASIA. (207)


Figure 1:”‘Famines perpetrated by policies that privilege the rich'” Rediff. October 09, 2012. Accessed April 29, 2017.

Figure 2: Accessed April 29, 2017.

Figure 3: “Famines in Late Nineteenth-Century India:.” Famines in India Timeline | Environment & Society Portal. Accessed April 29, 2017.