By YP Rajesh
NEW DELHI, April 19 (Reuters) – India is poised to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation, with almost 3 million more people than its neighbour by the middle of this year, data released on Wednesday by the United Nations showed.
India’s population by mid-year is estimated at 1.4286 billion, against 1.4257 billion for China – 2.9 million fewer – in the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) “State of World Population Report” for this year.
Population experts using previous data from the UN have projected India’s population would surpass China’s this month, but the global body’s latest report did not specify a date.
UN population officials have said it was not possible to pinpoint a date because of uncertainty about the data from India and China, as India’s last census was held in 2011 and the next, due in 2021, was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although both nations will account for more than a third of the estimated global population of 8.045 billion, population growth in both has been slowing, albeit much faster in China than India.
Last year, China’s population fell for the first time in six decades, a historic turn expected to usher in a long period of decline in citizen numbers, with profound implications for its economy and the world.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said population dividends did not only depend on quantity but also on quality.
“Population is important but talents are also important…China has taken active measures to respond to population aging,” Wang told reporters on Wednesday.
“As Premier Li Qiang pointed out, our population dividend has not disappeared. Our talent dividend is booming, and the impetus for development is strong,” she said.