The ticking time bomb; population

India sits on a literal Population Time Bomb which is ticking away at an alarming rate to the extent that it has the potential to become the most insidious threat to the country. It’s the sheer numbers which constitute this threat, at the last count i.e., 2011 Census pegged India at 1.21 Billion and ticking.

The rate of growth will have added another 200 million by the time we get down to count the numbers again in 2021. Many economists and social entrepreneurs have welcomed these numbers as force multiplier for the impending Economic boom with the Youth comprising over 50% of the population. A study from China says that only 8.3% of the Indian population will be over 70 years of age or beyond the age of productivity in 2030 while China will be burdened by a corresponding figure of 37%. This may sound music to certain ears but the fact that India is waiting for the Population Time Bomb to explode is a scenario which cannot be anything but a disaster in waiting. The economic dividend is how the industry which believes in exploitative conditions as suitable for its activity sees the population growth but its darker side far outweighs the development paradigm being propagated by the enthusiasts.

An exploding population needs resources to live or even better, survive. India with just 2.4% of world’s surface area is home to world’s 17.3% population! This one fact alone negates the so called economic dividend being propagated by the votaries of population growth.

The crunch of resources is enough to derail any story leave alone a story which is not even half as good as it looks. Agriculture production is almost at its peak, with tweaking a little higher produce, will India be able to provide even the basic needs of an exploding population?

Food security will be an important factor, if the basic needs like Power and Housing are satisfied by the govts, but in the longer run, will it be enough to cater for the future population growth at the rate which it is growing

Urbanisation is a global phenomenon, while 37.2% of India’s population presently lives in cities and towns, there’s going to be an increasing trend of populations moving to urban conglomerates in very near future. Are we equipped to be able to cater for the basic needs of this population?

The urban infrastructure is literally crumbling around the country, unable to cope up the pressure of migration into cities.

Most metros and almost all cities are cesspools of filth and garbage, the Swach Bharat Abhigyan notwithstanding. The civic authorities have failed to provide basic sanitation and hygiene to its toiling masses. The picture of neglect in urban areas in itself is such a damning story of Urbanisation. But, not one political party or any politician of any hue has raised the issue of unbridled population growth in the country. It’s a sad state of affairs when a problem staring at you is ignored at the peril of being devoured by it if not checked is the pitfalls of a democracy without accountability.

Democracy is about the People, their development as human beings, the furtherance of their economic, cultural, social and educational goals. It’s not just about votes.

There’s this constant issue of religious demographics in India as a threat to the core of India as a Nation State, though there are many who are averse to the politics of the Nation State Of India. However, the figures of change in religious demographics are revealing in themselves.

In 1951, Hindus constituted 85% of the total population, since then it has been on the slide. So much so that the latest Census Of 2011 shows Hindus as 78% of the population. There’s a coresponding increase in population of Muslims in India from 9.8% to 14.3%. It is attributed to levels of illiteracy and the dogmas of Islam. But, it’s a fact that Hindus have put a check on population by adopting birth control measures and following family planning schemes, the Muslims in India have largely ignored similar measures by design and default. It’s again attributed to both religious orthodoxy and ignorance of measures, which is though hard to believe as Muslims have 100% enrollment for govt welfare schemes.

It’s this population growth which is also discussed as a problem in waiting. Population conspiracy theorists have also pointed out that though the Christian population is about 2.3% of the total, in effect, Christians are much more, coming to about 6% of the total population.

The terms crypto Christians and pseudo Christians are being used to denote those who are Christians in effect, but carry with their Hindu names as conversion may lead to revoking of SC/ST benefits. Vast tracts of TN, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha are Christians but remain professedly Hindu to gain benefits of SC/ST schemes.

The increase in population of Muslims and Christians in India vis a vis Hindus has created a conundrum of conflicting loyalties. The Muslims in India look towards their spiritual home to west in Mecca, while being told to follow the purest form of Islam as was followed by the prophet himself. The conflict of ideas emanating from the new Wahhabi stream of thought being propagated by Saudis through Petro Dollar is directly against the syncretism of Sub continental Islam. Wahhabism is the new vehicle of radical Islamic thought running a blood feud against all and sundry, from co religionists Shias, Ahmediyas to Hindus, to Buddhists and Christians.

It has infiltrated into every denomination of Mosques in India. Kerala, parts of TN, Karnataka in South, UP, Bihar, Bengal in North and East are hotbeds of Wahhabi radicalism.

Population theorists are also worried about the Papal powers of Vatican and the control of Pope over Catholic Church in India. The fact that the important posts of clergy are appointed by the Pope is an infringement of powers of a Sovereign Nation. India is a proud democracy with unenviable record of safeguarding rights of all minorities irrespective of their numbers. The most vibrant example is the Parsis, who are less than one lakh but have assimilated themselves wonderfully with no external links of religion or politics.

It is another form of threat when two major religions in a country are governed by extra territorial powers. The fact that both Islam and Christianity have their ideological homes in the Middle East Desert and are constantly preying on the Hindu population has the potential to break up the Country.

Population is not merely an economic problem, it encompasses issues which can derail the entire country if it is ignored. Hope that some politician will have the guts to formulate a population policy which is pragmatic and feasible.

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