Amid the declining population growth rate of China, it is expected that India will overtake the country within a few years in terms of population. India is second only to China in terms of population and the two countries make up 36% of the world’s population. Social media has been abuzz with unsubstantiated claims and speculations ever since it was projected that the population of India will overtake that of China, in the next decade. Even though it has been reported that the fertility rate in India has fallen below the replacement level, some social media posts are already claiming that ‘India’s population has overtaken China on 5th March, 2022.’
The post was shared by multiple Facebook users congratulating India on this feat.
Newschecker also found similar claims shared on Twitter.
Newschecker conducted a keyword search to verify the authenticity of this claim but did not find any recent articles which reported this incident.
On further research, Newschecker found an article by Hindustan Times uploaded on 4th January, 2022 which stated that the census of the total population was to be conducted in 2021 but the Census 2021 and activities around it have been postponed until further orders due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the home ministry told the Parliament. The last population Census was held in 2011.
Newschecker also found that the population figure of India cited in the viral post came from Medindia, a website based in Chennai which is an online provider of health information, applications and services for consumers, doctors, healthcare professionals.
We contacted Medindia for a comment on the methodology that was used to come up with their figures but they refused to comment on their sources. After Newschecker reached out to Medindia, its website has put out a notice since saying:
To verify the methodology used by Medindia to project the growing population of India, Newschecker looked at the figures used by the website used to show the projected population. Newschecker found some discrepancies within the data used by Medindia and the data available on credible sources on the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence website which provides official data.
According to the Medindia website, the Birth Rate mentioned on their website is given to be 19.3 births/1000 population. When the evidence is corroborated with the government data provided by Central Bureau of Health Intelligence in their National Health Profile 2021, it is found that the birth rate is 19.7 births/1000 population.
The death rate according to the Medindia website is given as 7.3 deaths/1000 population against the government data of 6.0 deaths/1000 population.
To check for a more credible source, Newschecker checked the United Nations Population Fund (UNFP) website to get the data on the population of the two countries. According to the UNFP website the population of India stands at 1,393.4 million while the population of China stands at 1,444.2 million at the end of 2021.
Upon further investigation, Newschecker found an article by CNN Health uploaded on 19th June, 2019. According to the article, the population of India is set to overtake that of China in 2027 according to the UN’s 2019 World Population Prospects report.
Newschecker also found an article by the BBC uploaded on 30th July, 2015. The article cited a previous report by the UN which had suggested that the Indian population will overtake the population of China in 2022 and become the most populous country the world. The previous UN report might be a source of confusion which has led to the viral social media posts.
Newschecker also found an article uploaded by Chinese news agency which denied the claim that India had overtaken China in population. The article was by Global Times uploaded on 7th March, 2022 according to which the claim that India had overtaken China was internet disinformation. The article quoted Huang Yinghong, a professor at the O.P. Jindal Global University according to whom “comparing the two populations is only meaningful if they’re calculated using the same statistical method, not to mention that the number quoted by self-media doesn’t come from an authoritative official Indian source.”
According to the investigation conducted by the Newschecker team, the viral claim that India’s population had overtaken that of China was verified to be False.
Result: False/ Fabricated
Hindustan Times- https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/census-activities-postponed-amid-covid-surge-101641232471939.html
Medindia website- https://www.medindia.net/patients/calculators/pop_clock.asp
Central Bureau of Health Intelligence website- https://www.cbhidghs.nic.in/showfile.php?lid=1160
UNFPA website- https://www.unfpa.org/data/world-population/IN
CNN Health- https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/19/health/india-china-world-population-intl-hnk/index.html
Global Times- https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202203/1254246.shtml
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