India Journal: Overpopulation? I’ll Buy That

November 20, 2011 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to David Poindexter for this article. See:

India Journal: Overpopulation? I’ll Buy That

October 7, 2011, 10:42 AM IST

By Ranjani Mohanty

In the 1980s, before India’s economic revolution, there used to be ubiquitous billboards showing the ideal Indian family-a father, a mother and two children-in order to encourage family planning. By the 2000s, these ads had been replaced by ones for Nokia, Coke and “India’s Got Talent.” We seem to have solved our overpopulation issue by using the philosophy “if you have lemons, make lemonade,” or, if you have a heck of a lot of people, make them consumers.

In 1952, when India’s population was less than 400 million, the government initiated a family planning program, one of the first of its kind in the world. By the 80s, India’s population had grown to 700 million. Today, India is the world’s second-most populous country at 1.2 billion. By 2025, it is expected to surpass China and become the most populous country with 1.4 billion, and some predict that figure may reach two billion by the year 2100. To put the growth into perspective, over the past 40 years, the population of the U.K. has increased by seven million while the population of India has increased by 700 million. We proudly call ourselves the world’s largest democracy, but that “largest” bit might not be something to strive for.

Economist Thomas Malthus first warned of the dangers of overpopulation back in 1798. In 1968, Professor Paul Ehrlich rang the alarm bells again with his bestseller “The Population Bomb.” The 90s brought population scientist’s Joel Cohen’s book “How many people can the world support?” and ecologist Garrett James Hardin’s “Living within Limits.” But over the last few years, apart from some scientists, academics, NGO-types and concerned individuals shouting into the wind, there seems to have been little mainstream concern about the issue.

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