The population of the world has exploded in the past 65 years. A UN study showed that in 1950, the population of Earth was 2.5 billion. Today, there are more than seven billion people. The two most populous countries in the world are China and India, with China taking the slim lead for first place. However, researchers have said that come 2022, India will surpass China as the most populous country in the world — it’s expected to have 1.4 billion people.

With its massive population, China has had its fair share of problems over the years. Things like poverty, lack of quality food and air, lack of food in general, and much more has plagued the Asian nation. So, what does that mean for India in seven years when it takes the throne as most populous? If the country’s state continues on its current track, then nothing good.


With a population of over one billion, it’s getting harder than ever for Indians to feed themselves. One of the problems is air pollution. It has destroyed crops that could’ve fed more than 94 million people — one third of India’s poor — and cost farmers more than $1.3 billion in revenue. India is also the world’s worst food violator, with one out of every five food samples failing quality tests.

Air Quality

Smog is everywhere, especially in urban cities. In major cities like Beijing and Los Angeles, smog is a cloud that hangs over and fills the lungs of everyone who lives there. New Delhi, however, is the world’s most polluted city . It kills crops and it’s also killing Indians. Research shows that the poor air quality of New Delhi has cut three years off the life expectancy of more than 660 million people. Though many of India’s richer and more affluent residents have bought and installed air purifiers, plenty more are left breathing air that has been deemed hazardous to humans.

Waste, Water, and Noise Pollution

As a population grows, so does its need to dispose of all the materials it uses. According to a 2005 Central Pollution Control Board study, India generates 29 million liters of waste per day, but only has a treatment capacity of 6 million liters. That was in 2005. Imagine what it’s like today and what it will be like seven years from now.

Obviously, when people are stuffed into cities by the millions, there’s bound to be a lot of noise and light pollution. India has gone to great lengths over the past decade to reduce noise emissions in its cities, but as more people come in, it’s only a matter of time before the emissions rise back up and drown out the city.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Some of the massive amounts of smog pollution can be attributed to the fact that, with 18 percent of the world’s population (and rising) living in India, people need transportation. That means cars, buses, motorcycles, and more use tons of fuel, and wreak havoc on the ozone. Greenhouse gas emissions can also be attributed to their manufacturing industry, but not on the same scale as China.

All of these factors and more can lead to a potentially deadly and definitely hazardous mix of pollutants wreaking havoc on the soon-to-be world’s most populous country. It will be interesting to see how the Indian government and the country as a whole prepares for the millions of people that will be added to the population in the next seven years — especially as the aging population grows older at a slower pace than expected and the demographic has just as many 15-year-olds as 85-year-olds.