As of Thursday, April 13, 2017, India’s population, based on the latest United Nations estimates, was 1,339,040,095, only some 47 million more than China’s total population on that day. The UN estimate (Worldometers) records India’s population as 17.86 per cent of the total world population as against China’s 18.47 per cent. In 2016, India’s population grew by 1.20 per cent, compared to China’s 0.54 per cent despite the latter’s lately liberalised two-child-per-family population policy. Demographers have forecast that India may overtake China’s population as early as in 2022, that is five years from now. Currently, China ranks No.1 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population. India is No. 2. At the time of India’s Independence in 1947, the country’s population was only around 330 million. It went up to 520 million in 1968, said a report in an External Affairs Ministry publication, that year. Indira Gandhi was India’s Prime Minister, then. The population growth rate was always politically sensitive, and Mrs Gandhi avoided its official reference, until her younger son, Sanjay Gandhi, made it a part of his five-point programme during the national emergency period and started a vigorous birth-control campaign through ‘forced’ sterilisation that was said to be partly responsible for the Congress party’s crushing defeat in the post-emergency 1977 Lok Sabha election. Ever since, every government went for ‘self-control for birth control’ policy until BJP’s newly-elected Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal announced a few weeks ago a new rigorous-looking population control policy — first time by any state in this country — for Assam which has been witnessing a big population explosion due to high birth rate as well as constant illegal immigration from bordering Bangladesh.