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India Population and social enterpreneurship

I have had the opportunities to attend the meets and presentations of social enterpreneurship companies. I have also had the opportunity to talk to a few leaders in this area of work.

Social enterpreneurship companies are a key factor in developing the people in the India’s rural. They work in several states, and they have access to the local NGOs and organisations who work on the ground at grass root levels.  So, I was musing how it would be to take the message of population awareness through these companies, make people see the perils of continuing population growth, and make people feel responsible in their own families.

As per the India Census 2011 data, a whopping 84% of India households have 3 people and above!  55% of households have 3-5 people. 25% of households have 6-8 people. 7% of the households have 9 people and above!

You might ask “Well, is it not a good indicator that we are living in a joint-family setup?”  Yes and No. because on the flip side, these people in turn have the potential to give birth to more babies. India’s average population density is around 800 people/sq.km, while the ideal is only 197 people/sq.km.

So, I thought I would give this information to the social enterpreneurship companies, so that they , start guidelines to the people who get loans on the rural areas that if the family generates more babies, no more loans!  Reward and punishment through economic enablement!

This concept is not new. In Bangladesh, Mohammad Yunus’s social work has responsible reproduction as a directive (among their 16 directives) for the families that get loan from their organisation. So, why not in India?

I met these enterpreneurship companies higher-ups recently. I talked to them about this to see how they feel.  The response was not surprising, but the excuses that they gave were hilarious!

One said, “Venkat, see population is not the problem.  It’s the corruption and pseudo-social work done by the politicians. So, I would suggest that people like you take a stand against corruption.”
I blinked and then wiped my eyes thoroughly.

Listen to another one. This enterpreneurship company recently had a Twitter chat to get their message out. I participated in the chat, and brought up the population issue, and if they can have directives on the families that they give loans to.  This person pointed me to some weird Niger related data, which showed that a lean population will affect social work! Excuse me?  Do we have a lean population in India?  Why not take a cue from Bangladesh, which is right next to our country and has same population issue as India?

I tried to get into their shoes and understand their line of thinking of why they are saying no. It struck me immediately.  For them, the more no. of members in a household, the more business they can do!  But, I think they are short-sighted.  The more no. of members, will decrease their ability to serve many other families.  Why not spread the loans out to families which are responsible with their no. of children, and help them grow?

So, this misconception that more babies means more business should be removed from their minds.  They can gently persuade the families in the rural to not to generate babies.  It should be an integral part of their social plan. Otherwise their work cannot scale.

Social enterpreneurship companies along with the NGOs are the only hope to spread the message of population containment in the rurals.

Hope they would do!

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Optimum population density – Where does India stand ?

In this blog, I will introduce you to the concept of Population Density. It’s the number of human beings per sq. km. Naturally, one would be curious to know how many human beings can live well without ecological and resource issues within a sq.km. This is called the Optimum Population Density.

There had been quite a lot of debates about how the ‘Optimum Population Density’ should be calculated, and whether it made sense. Several parameters were discussed, and several reasons were quoted to argue that such a parameter does not make sense. The culture and ways of living of each region varies, and thus it is not logically correct to pin-down the number, is what the gist of the argument was.

But, eventually, an organisation called ‘Population Matters‘ in UK, came up with a way of measuring the density, taking into consideration the ecological and biological constraints.  And here is what they found :

Population Overshoot Index while taking into consideration ecological and biological constraints

Note that this data is as of 2007, and we are now in 2014.  The India Population has increased another 0.2 billion.

 

If you look at the report closely, India Population is at 68th position in terms of the overshoot.  Overshoot is how much of population is in excess to the sustainable population, based on the eco and bio considerations. How the eco and bio parameters are considered and derived is explained well in the introduction section of the report.

Given the India’s total area of 3,287,590 sq. kms, and given the sustainable population of 0.650 billion as per the report, the average population density per sq.km turns out to be 197 persons / sq.km. But, when I was looking at the Wikipedia article on India population, these are the densities of the topmost states (leaving alone places which are union territories) :

Bihar: 1,102 persons / sq.km   West Bengal: 1,030 / sq.km   Kerala: 859 / sq. km   Uttar Pradesh: 828 / sq. km

Even if we account for the ‘Thoda adjust kar lo bhai’ (Can you please adjust a bit?) attitude of India, 10 times overshoot of the living standards of the rest of world is very troublesome, don’t you agree?

So, what are we going to do? We got to do something different, not do the same thing of reproducing more and more, but a bit different than how we saw things in the past, and change our attitudes – because, at the current rate, we not only cannot live well, we are going to be cruel to each other – in a country where people don’t respect the concept of queues!

 

Resources:

1. India Population : What can I do?

2. Google search : India Population

3. Adoption? It’s so difficult! – Well, may be not anymore!