The population of India is very high, and exploding. Correct? Correct. But is it exploding everywhere in India? Do steps need to be taken to curb population growth all over India? India is too big for anything to be true all over it, so think again.
As this startling graphic from the fertility report of the National Family Health Survey - 3 (2005-6) shows, all of South India is accelerating towards a population implosion, not a population explosion. That is, South Indians are being made to voluntarily reduce their fertility so much, that they are already unable to maintain the population of South India, which is already very low compared to North India.
TFR stands for Total Fertility Rate, which is the number of children borne by a woman on average. For any population to remain constant, that is, neither increase nor decrease, a woman should bear 2 children on average, both of which must survive long enough to be counted.
So, a TFR of 2 is called replacement TFR, since 2 children simply replace their parents when the parents die. If the TFR is more than 2, it could lead to population explosion since the children not only replace their parents, but also top up. And finally, if TFR is less than 2, it could lead to population implosion, since there aren't sufficient children to even replace the parent generation.
I'm neglecting infant and maternal mortality rates, since they are so low (not from a worldwide perspective, but from the perspective of number of births) that they don't impact the analysis. Including these parameters sets replacement TFR at approximately 2.1.
The North is exploding, and the South is about to implode
The discussion about TFR above should convince the reader that the North is exploding, while the South is bracing itself for a big implosion.
Demographer of world renown, P N Mari Bhat, opines that the growing demographic imbalance due to the exploding north and the imploding south may trigger a serious regional conflict due to large migration from the north to the south. In India Vision 2020, a book published by the Planning Commission of India, he writes (italics mine):
[B]y the year 2020, population of north India would still be growing at a rate of 1.7 per cent per annum while the growth rate in South India would have fallen to 0.6 per cent. The advantages, the south would derive from its early demographic transition are thus obvious. But the regional demographic imbalances may induce large population movements from the north to the south. It remains to be seen whether this would develop into a serious regional conflict.
It's clear that Kannadigas, Tamils, Telugus, Malayalis and Marathis are already at a point where with every passing year, they're becoming less and less able to maintain their own populations. And there seems to be nothing to stop this.
It's not by accident, it's by plan
How can there be anything to stop this, when the Govt. of India, with the "force of a Nation" (to quote Rabindranath Tagore), is planning to bring the fertility rates of all the south below replacement levels, as this table from the 11th five-year plan (2007-2012) shows?
As per plan, in the path to bringing the whole of India to the replacement level of 2.1 by the year 2012, South India would have been brought well below replacement levels: Karnataka 1.8, Tamil Nadu 1.7, Kerala 1.7, Andhra Pradesh 1.8.
Sure, the plan to bring states below replacement level TFR is not limited to the south in the strict sense, because Haryana, J&K, Maharashtra, Punjab, WB (Delhi too, but it's population itself is to low to be counted in this list) are also planned to go below a TFR of 2.1. Note that these are all states which are home to languages other than Hindi.
But who shall prevail in India when India receives a pat on the back from the rest of the world for achieving a TFR of 2.1? It is the high-TFR states: Bihar at 3.0, Chhattisgarh at 2.4, Gujarat at 2.2, Jharkhand at 2.5, MP at 2.6, Rajasthan at 2.6, UP at 3.0. People in the Hindi-speaking states in this list (the Gujaratis at 2.2 are close to the replacement level of 2.1), who are multiplying at above-replacement TFR levels, shall prevail, while the low-TFR states (and therefore the whole of South India), would be accelerating towards a population implosion.
It will be worth mentioning that by plan (as quoted in the table on p.150 of the Karnataka Human Development Report 2005), Karnataka's TFR target for 2020 is way below replacement level, at 1.6.
Remember that none of this is happening naturally. It's all by government plan.
Now, what kind of a sane political system would plan for pulling South India's fertility to below replacement levels? What kind of an ethical political system would plan to reduce the fertility of all South Indians below replacement level just because North Indians are unable to get to replacement levels, and because India as a whole must achieve replacement level fertility a.s.a.p.?
Given that India needs to come down to replacement level fertility, why was it not planned to stop population control in South India once it reaches replacement level fertility? What is the guarantee that the north will ever go to replacement level fertility? As per plan, Bihar, UP, MP, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat will be happily above replacement levels even when India as a whole reaches replacement level TFR anyway. And at that time, South India would be way below replacement levels.
Note, also, that TFR is not the entire story. If all the states were of the same population, it would be less of a demographic imbalance. But the fact is, that most of the population of India is also concentrated in the north, especially in the high-TFR states in the table above.
On the whole, the entire game of population control in India seems to have no logical endgame but more and more migration from the north to the south, together with a south unable to retain its already low population by reproduction.
What does all this mean for South India, and how must it protect itself against being unable to retain its population due to curbed reproduction and increasing migration from the north, in the wake of a Constitution which attaches a clear preference to Hindi, and one which is far from being federal? What must politicians in the south do? What must civilians in the south do?
These are difficult questions. And the clock is ticking. We must not only answer these questions, but start executing on the answers we get.