United Nations has predicted that India may likely become the most populous country in the world by the middle of this year.
According to data released by the global body, India’s population is expected to reach 1.4286 billion, 2.9 million more than China which stands at 1.4257 billion.
The two Asian countries have for over seventy years accounted for more than a third of the global population.
Majority of Indians are saying their population was too large and fertility rates too high, a survey conducted by the UNFPA shows.
According to the survey, almost two in three respondents identified economic issues as top concerns when thinking about population growth.
Demographers, however, say India’s population overtaking China’s shouldn’t be seen as a matter of concern and caution against giving into anxieties over the rising numbers.
“Instead, they should be seen as a symbol of progress, development, and aspirations if individual rights and choices are being upheld,” the UN report says.
India’s population forecast provided in the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) State of World Population report is an estimate, since there has been no census in the country since 2011.
Also, the UN says their estimate does not include the population of China’s two Special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau or the island of Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a breakaway province to be unified with the mainland one day.
Taiwan sees itself as distinct from the Chinese mainland, with its own constitution and democratically-elected leaders.
In November, the global population crossed 8 billion. But experts say growth is not as rapid as it used to be and is now at its slowest rate since 1950.
Both India and China have seen declines in their fertility rates.
This means in China, the population will start declining next year, despite the country abandoning its one-child policy in 2016 and introducing incentives for couples to have two or more children.
In India, fertility rates have fallen substantially in recent decades from 5.7 births per woman in 1950 to 2.2 births per woman today.