The main villain in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos was right about one thing for sure– Earth is overpopulated and something needs to be done. He says “Little one, it’s a simple calculus. This universe is finite. Its resources, finite. If life is left unchecked, life will cease to exist. It needs correction”, and truly, it’s just that. Human population has not only caused harm to the environment but also to each other’s existence. On Earth, the human population has increased ever since the conception of civilization around 10,000 BC. That growth was relatively slow before the Industrial Revolution, after which the growth rate increased drastically. It is estimated that 108 billion people have ever lived on this planet since the beginning of time, and out of all of them, we have approximately 1% living in India presently. India has multiplied its population by 2.5 times in the last 55 years with land to barely accommodate that kind of human population, leaving behind a troublesome ecological footprint. The amount of productive land and sea area required to produce the resources to take care of such a big number and absorb its waste has doubled since 1961 today.
Why this increase? Generally, post the Industrial Revolution, the amount of food and other goods that could be generated increased, allowing for the support of more people. Also, the death rate has come down by about 6 times in the last 100 years in India due to development of technology and enhancement in the field of medicines. The reason of overpopulation is not just increase in birth rate, but also, the death rate which has decreased significantly, causing this imbalance. In 1991, 1 out of every 5 of the hungry people of global population were Indians, and after a 700% increase in GDP in 2017, according to statistics, 1 out of 4 of hungry people are Indians. But these are merely figures and even if they were to be completely true, money isn’t helping the country to get out of crisis because our resources still remain limited. Thinkers such as environmental writer Fred Pearce believe that the real issue is not overpopulation but overconsumption, as people in developed, rich nations consume far more resources than they actually need.
We Indians have a habit of saying “So what, look at where China is?” Well, let’s make that comparison. China is about 9,596,960 sq km, while India is approximately 3,287,263 sq km, not even half of China’s territory. In fact, we have almost the same number of people living in three times less land. They have a population growth rate of 0.59% annually, which is for every 1000 people they have 6 new people every year. Meanwhile in India, the rate is as high as 11 new people every year per 1000 people which is almost twice that of China. Bihar has a population density of 1102 living in 1km square of area, which means one metre square for one person, just 3 times the scale one uses to draw a line. Sounds impossible? It’s their reality of living.
So what do we do now? Thanos’s idea, though immoral, sounds pretty good right now, doesn’t it? But will it really help to wipe out half the population?
In 1976, Sanjay Gandhi enforced Compulsory Sterilisations in India to control population. Targets of sterilisation were fixed in all the states and as a result, the number of sterilisations rose from 9.4 lakh in 1973-74 to 82.6 lakh in 1976-77. But Taking advantage of the emergency, many States resorted to unfair and coercive methods to sterilise people of all ages, which led to mass resentment and unrest among the people. As a result, family planning programmes became very unpopular. Post-emergency, the Janata Government announced a New Population Policy in 1977. One of the many policies were monetory incentive for those who get tubectomy or sterilisation done. India’s one child policy is taking has taken toll on development as the percent youth in China population has gone down considerably since the policy came into picture(1979). As of 2014, 11 Indian states have passed laws to restrict Indian citizens from having no more than two children. It also includes disincentives like refusal of government rights for the third or higher children, denying health care for mothers and children, jail and fines for fathers, a general decrease in social services for large families, and restrictions on government position appointment and promotion.
But it shouldn’t be just the government’s responsibility to fix this situation. We are not just a country of 1.35 billion people but 1.35 billion minds. Sex education for birth control, people should be must be given importance given how severe the problem of population is. Other possible solutions can be subsidizing materials related for birth control (c contraceptive pills, condoms etc ) to promote protected recreation and giving monetary benefits/ reinforcements to those who have 1/no child. To quote Ramdev, the king Patanjali, “Special honours should be reserved for those who, like me, do not marry. And those who marry and give birth to more than two children, should have their voting rights taken”. Another controversial idea is that, people prefer to die with dignity before reaching the phase where they can barely move, breathe, live. Hence, about 71% people voted in favour of Voluntary Euthanasia in a recent poll. In any case, whatever needs to be done, should be done.
Picture Credits : financialtribune.com