This is the concluding part of this series, which seeks to underscore the strain that our huge population places on our resources.
APART FORM the list of four reasons discussed in the previous article as to why a burgeoning population does not make economic and environmental sense, there are some other important factors:
Quoting from a Wikipedia article on Healthcare in India,
"In the mid-1990s, health spending of India
amounted to 6 per cent of GDP, one of the highest levels among developing nations.
Healthcare facilities and personnel increased substantially between the early 1950s and early 1980s, but because of fast population growth, the number of licensed medical practitioners per 10,000 individuals had fallen by the late 1980s to three per 10,000 from the 1981 level of four per 10,000. In 1991 there were approximately ten hospital beds per 10,000 individuals." 
So, inspite of spending a significant chunk of national resources on healthcare, the situation in this domain remains abysmal, with so many deaths due to completely curable diseases like diarrhoea, malaria, dengue fever, cholera, tuberculosis (TB) among others. And the excess population (especially higher birth rate among high-risk groups) would have to be major reason why we cannot tackle even these diseases which hardly kill anyone in the developed world. And we talk of almost being a super-power already!
The decline in per capita land holding due to overpopulation has been seen for decades in the villages (and even used as an example in awareness campaigns on family planning). With the boom in the economy and the accompanying rise in the urban Indian’s income, this trend looks to be ready to spill over to cities as well, as real estate in the cities goes further beyond the reach of the common man. Again, it is a demand-supply-price thing; the high demand fuels high prices. Otherwise how does one explain property prices in Mumbai
(even in the suburbs) reaching the levels of top cities in the developed nations?
An estimated 60 per cent of cultivated land suffers from soil erosion, water logging, and salinity.  Think of what impact it must be having on agricultural productivity. Forest area covers 19.4 percent of India’s geographic area (6,37,000 km),  while the recommended minimum one learnt in school was around 33 per cent.
Global warming is a critical issue that doesn’t need any elaboration. Eleven of the last 13 years have been the hottest in recorded history. The Indian Agricultural Research Institute has estimated that a three degree celsius rise in temperature will result in a 15 to 20 per cent loss in annual wheat yields.  India’s contribution to the biggest threat to mankind’s survival is pretty significant and increasing year after year, as can probably be inferred from the Indian Ocean Haze. 
India has a large poor population in the villages as well as the cities. This segment of the population is usually seen to use inefficient and environmentally damaging fuels like wood, charcoal, dung, and kerosene among others. Kerosene is sold at subsidised rates to the poor under the much-maligned public distribution system, which not only places a huge burden on the exchequer, but also causes more pollution, not just directly, but also indirectly, as a cheap and effective adulterant for petrol. On the other hand, the affluent population is seen to do their bit for pollution by indiscriminate and excessive use of fossil fuel powered vehicles, electrical appliances, CFC generating refrigerators and air-conditioners and production of non-biodegradable waste together with a scant regard for recycling.
Sure, these days some parts of India are shining. There’s a phenomenal amount of wealth coming into certain sectors of the economy. For the people benefited by this, life is definitely sunny. But one question which none of them seems to want to ask is - what about something called quality of life? They have swanky houses, offices, gymnasia, malls, multiplexes, coffee shops and so many other avenues to live it up, all air-conditioned of course, provided there’s no power failure! They have posh restaurants for which one would have to wait an hour just to get in on weekends.
They have malls (which were originally meant to be places for leisurely shopping), which are nearly as crowded as railway platforms making shopping a painful get-it-over-with exercise. They have the latest, best and most powerful cars, but no place to unleash that power, as the roads are either gridlocked with traffic or are in too pathetic a state to even challenge the speed limits of a bicycle. They have computers with so-called broadband connections that don’t even allow you to get online on holidays as they are choked to their capacity with many more users than their networks were designed for. They have mobile phones with the lowest tariffs in the world
on networks that requires three to four tries on an average to successfully make a call as the first two always end in a "Network Busy" error. And there is a complete breakdown in times of real crises, like the Mumbai floods or local train blasts. There’s so much pollution on the streets that gas masks might soon become commonplace. What use is all this wealth if it is just going to go towards payment of medical bills? And what sort of city/state/country/planet are we leaving for our children?
All in all, as far as the issue of whether our gargantuan population is going to be a boon or a bane for our country and the world is concerned, the answers are there for all to see. Provided we just ask the right questions. It is obvious that our methods of development need to change to save the environment. What is not so obvious to most people is the difference that a controlled population can make even without this change.
It is said that everything must be in balance for harmony. That applies to our head count as well. May be having too few people is a roadblock to economic progress, but having too many is not the right way to go either. We need a flexible policy that is re-evaluated after every census to keep our population in check. It is a pity that of all our public figures, only Infosys
founder NR Narayana Murthy
has the vision to suggest the need for population control.
India’s population will harm the country and the planet Part I
India’s population will harm the country and the planet Part II