“A Misguided Approach to India’s Population Policy” Manu Joseph, The New York Times, AUG. 9, 2015

“There is a perception in India and elsewhere that the great Republic’s huge population is a problem. This is a misanthropic idea that pretends to be humanitarian. (...)  It does not aim to lower the fertility rate of humans but only of poor humans. It wishes to eradicate poverty by eradicating the progeny of the poor.”

India presents the war against its supposed population problem in honorable terms. It worries about the environment, but the average citizen of wealthy nations, consumes many times the resources the average Indian does. The government says it seeks to “stabilize” the population. Nonsense, no population ever stabilizes. There is always a crisis of plenty or of decadence. India thinks the crisis of plenty is a bigger worry than one of decline. It is an obsolete belief: modern technology has overturned many assumptions once thought certain by economists. Stripped of its polite language, India’s policy is “to bribe and coerce the poor to procreate less.” Women are paid to use intrauterine devices. 400,000 women did so last year. Men and women are paid to sterilize themselves. 150,000 women underwent sterilization last year, but only 5,000 men. Around the world, economic growth has been a more effective form of contraception than forceful public policies. The fertility rate in India --average number of babies per woman-- has fallen to 2.4 in 2012, from 3.2 in 2000. But the figure is still very high in poor areas (over 3.5), where control programs are more intense. It is low, however, in the more affluent and literate urban enclaves. So is population growth the problem? If India had had a better government for the past 20 years, the offspring of the poor would not be as hopeless as they still are, and India’s vast population, youth in the majority, would today be an economic asset: a formidable workforce and a gigantic market. Genius is a mathematical probability among equally fortunate humans. “Hundreds of millions of well-fed and educated Indians would have generated geniuses who would have transformed the world or  pushed the known limits of human endurance”. As India may yet prove in the future.

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“A Misguided Approach to India’s Population Policy” Manu Joseph, The New York Times, AUG. 9, 2015


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