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Live and Express

The “Don’t Panic On Population” video by Hans Rosling!

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Hans Rosling needs no introduction – famous TED speaker, population statistics expert. His methods of explaining complex data like population in a way that’s understandable by layman is well known. I admire his ability to meticulously collect data of many centuries and present them to the public to create awareness about population.

As a person concerned about India Population, I went through his presentation video recently.  He narrates the projection that world population is going to be 11 billion by the end of the century. Quite known, and has been shared with UN in the recent times. When he went ahead and said that we need not panic on this, that put me to worry.

He sounded as though he was going to offer reasons on why we should not worried, and hence I was waiting patiently for him to give the reasons, and then he starts to give his reasons – and sadly the reasons just fizzle out and don’t provide a firm footing on why we should not be worried.

He talks about his service in Mozambique, how the economic conditions were in that country, and how it has improved over the several years.  He also talks about how money has increased the lifespan, and thus people are living well. He does not provide enough emphasis on whether the same trend is observed in other developing countries in Asia and Africa. Instead, on the same breath, he says that China and India are getting richer, and hence we should not be worried about population!  Well, I don’t know about China, but I certainly know about India – where 84% of the households have 3 and more people!  So, when he claims that the no. of children has stopped growing worldwide, I am amused because we have 1.25 billion people in India with around 44% of them below 25. Is he saying that they are not going to have kids, and even if they have 1 or 2 kids, the population won’t explode? Isn’t not obvious that just the sheer number of potentially fertile people is going to be the cause of population increase?

There are several organizations which are doing good work in India to create awareness about not having more and more babies, but, unless the 70% rural are provided the economic package for their livelihood, are they going to listen?

Certainly, I would not agree that India should not panic about population. Already, India has lot of mismanagement issues in many areas, so to not do anything to contain the population is just going to add stress to India. No, it needs work. Focused work is needed to create awareness. Because, India is running out of food – because people are moving out of agriculture. India is running out of water – because of failing monsoons, insufficient infrastructure to hold the rain water in ponds, lakes, and rain-water harvesting. India is badly under-educated, and the nation can’t expect to shine just by manual labour – it needs skilled educated English speaking people, who can go to any corner of the country and contribute. Deforesting is happening in the name of economic development by multi-national companies against which activism is raising.  Unless these are fixed, existing children are educated, well-fed and get jobs, we should not be thinking of more babies, should we ?

Hans Rosling video made me laugh out loud. He may be right with his data, but sadly, he has lost the context, at least in case of India.

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