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On India becoming more populous than China || Acharya Prashant, with IIT-Ropar (2023)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
15 min
93 reads

Questioner (Q): Good evening, sir. My question is on population. You've mentioned that we have recently surpassed China according to the most recent estimates at the beginning of this very year, and currently, India's population stands at around 1.4142 billion people. So, by this estimate, we are the most populous country in the world, and we are going to add the maximum number of people, and their population projection says that by 2050 - 2060, we will keep growing.

So, in many of your videos, and talks, you have always mentioned that you know how the population is at the very root of so many societal problems, environmental problems, and problems related to the planet, and we see this figure, and that too for a country like India, which is very unprepared in terms of many things. So, what is the way forward? What should we do? Is there any important role of policymakers, and if we are at this level of population, is there an advantage in this bleak atmosphere?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Advantage to whom? You'll have a larger number of people proceeding to occupy the territory from a neighbouring country. How can overpopulation be an advantage? The advantage to whom? Why? In what sense? So, that's not even sensible to think of overpopulation as an advantage. Overpopulation is not merely a problem, it's a crime. It's the dastardliest crime today.

How to control it? There have to be both positive and negative measures. We very well know that when populations get more educated, fertility rates drop. We also know that when there are better medical services and education are guaranteed, and there is social security and greater participation of women in the workforce, again the fertility rates drop and all these are great things to have, irrespective of their effect on the fertility rates. We want people to be educated, even if that does not decrease the fertility rate. We want women to be empowered and to be financially independent, even if that does not decrease the fertility rate. So, all these are virtuous goals that come with the added benefit that they have a sobering effect on the fertility rate. These are the positive measures we must take.

On the negative side of this incentivizing side, you must not be subsidizing people who choose to have more than two kids. The government must say, on the one hand, “I am ensuring that the two kids that you have will have great health and great education, and I stand as the underwriter. We'll provide schools and hospitals.” So, once we have done that, we do not want you to have a third kid, and if you have a third kid, then we stop all the subsidies or at least reduce the subsidies.” And there are so many benefits that citizens draw from the government, and if you come from a disadvantaged or impoverished section, then there are additional benefits you get from the government.

So, the government does have a significant handle on individual decision-making by using the financial relationships that the government has with the individual. The government can very strongly disincentivize the individual from having more than two kids. Equally, if you decide to have no kids or just one kid, there should be material benefits. There should be immaterial benefits as well; you should be encouraged and incentivized in a financial way.

Also, in a social way, why should you not be presented with an award? Why not? “You are setting an example, so we confer this award on you,” Deshmitra (nation’s friend), or Samaj Bandhu (friend of society), some kind of award, and that couple then deserves to be highlighted in the media, and the government controls a lot of media. Don't we know that? Once a couple decides they are not going to have kids, let the couple be presented as role models. So, there is a lot that can be done, and you do not need to take draconian measures like in the time of emergency. You do not need to forcefully sterilize people.

There are so many other ways you can both incentivize and de-incentivize people, but for this to happen, you need a government that can make this happen, and for that to happen, you need people that can vote that kind of government to power, and for that to happen you need to have an agency that can, first of all, educate people towards the peril of overpopulation. That agency should be able to challenge long-standing cultural notions like — “If a woman does not procreate, her life is wasted. The purpose of life is to have a full nest and a full nest is defined by the abundance of kids in it. You are a great person, if you are a great mother. If you have been a great mother, you are a veritable goddess. You can be worshipped.”

So, the population will, first of all, have to be educated in a spiritual way so that we realize that procreation is not the purpose of life, especially not in a woman's life. And that time, golden time, peak time, precious time spent taking care of the babies is not a particularly great investment. Come on, let's be bold and honest enough to say that upfront, there is no great virtue or value in changing diapers and washing diapers and catering to all kinds of animalistic needs of an infant. There is nothing great about that. It does not even require a person of high consciousness to do all that. Even animals do all that.

So, let the woman know very clearly that if she is wasting years and years behind a baby, she's actually wasting her life, and she has been conditioned to very coolly say, “You know, now there is the baby, so how can I continue working six or seven months before childbirth?” Some of them take leaves and then they don't return to the workplace for the next five years, sometimes even ten years, sometimes they never return at all.

They need to be very clearly told, without mincing words, even if it hurts and offends, that they are wasting their life. The patriarchal society has placed such a great value on motherhood that women do not feel bothered at all, harmed at all, or ashamed at all just wasting all their life running behind kids. They feel they are doing something very honourable, very respectable, and very valuable.

I am not saying you should just pick the newborn, drop it somewhere, and get rid of it. No, but you should know very well that the time spent on the newborn and child raising is not a particularly great investment, and you have limited time as a human being. So, even if your biology and your physical tendencies demand that you must have a kid, please keep the number of kids to a minimum so that the wastage is minimized.

The time spent on one kid is enough investment. Do not spend more time on more kids. What are you doing all the time? I mean, think of the life of a new mother. Think of her life, how is her life different from the life of any other female mammal that has newly given birth? Think of a buffalo or a goat. All the time, they have to just look after the kid, and they cannot read, they cannot take care of themselves.

If you are a sports person, your sports are gone. If you are a traveller, you cannot travel anymore. You cannot even visit the cinema halls. You cannot go shopping. You cannot even sleep with abandon. All the time, you have to be tuned in. Can you go and sit in a library and spend dedicated eight hours there? You can't do that. Not for two months, not for four months, you cannot do that for the next many years. What about your dance classes? What happened to your swimming schedule? You were a champion swimmer. What happened to your tennis matches?

You were so fond of challenging everybody around, and you had a great volley and a great backhand. What happened to all that? You used to sit and continuously think and meditate on the great questions of life. You were thinking: Who am I? Why do I exist? What is meant by nations? Why is society organized the way it is? Those movements used to be your internal bread and butter. Now, can you spend those peaceful moments in quietness and solitude? Can you do that?

Why are you so eager to pop a baby? The baby is the master, the mother is the servant that's obvious for many long years. And that's a biological connection, and the same biological connection will mean that once the baby grows up, he'll have his own life. In the first three years of his or her life, when the mother invests practically everything into the baby, the baby doesn't have any memory. Nobody remembers the first three years of his life and that's when your mother has been doing the most for you, and you don't remember that.

The baby is now eight or ten and he is already building a separate universe of his own. Does it not happen he's already hiding things from the mother, and the mother sacrificed herself totally for the baby? Why is the mother so stupid? The mother is a human being, first of all, right? Gender comes later. First of all, you are a human consciousness. You are not born to raise kids; you are born to get liberated.

I look at women on the one hand and I feel bad, I feel empathetic but on the other hand, I feel furiously angry. You are responsible for your own wretched state. Don't you know what you are doing? You're hurting yourself all the time. You are allowing yourself to get exploited. Why do you do this to yourself? The scholarly student becomes a vet nurse and the baby is cheating all the time, urinating all the time. Was that supposed to be your destiny — urine, stools, and breastfeeding? That's what you are born for?

Women's emancipation has to be the thing that drives population control. If the woman is liberated, the population cannot explode. If the population explodes, that's a clear indication of women's misery. The more miserable, ignorant, and enslaved women are, the more you will find populations exploding. See, practically, man has zero roles in the process, let's face it. He impregnates and gets away with paying a very small price. In fact, in some sense, his own beastly tendencies get satiated. Now, the woman is confined to the house, so she has been now domesticated like a pet mammal. Now, she becomes, even more, easier to control, and the man puffs up — “Now I am the provider. The sole provider. You stay at home. I am providing for you.” See, you leave your job, and now you are pregnant. “So, I am the sole provider,” and if you're the sole provider, then you become the master.

Obviously, by impregnating the woman, the man becomes her master and the woman does not see that. Just emotion, emotion, emotional foolishness, and the man goes out to work and visits places and broadens his experience and learns of things, and grows as an individual. And what is the woman doing? Cleaning and breastfeeding and preparing bottles and rushing to doctors. And the man is growing in terms of knowledge, in terms of money, in terms of power, and the woman is rotting at home. That's a population for you.

And on top of that, the man will say, “You see, look at how magnanimous I am. I am the sole breadwinner. You two sit at home, you and the baby, and I provide for both of you idlers.” What good are the two of you doing at home, just sitting comfortably? I am the one who is going out there, working and providing for you two slothful people doing good for nothing.” But she has her moments of bliss. She looks at the baby and forgets her trauma. She says, “Can there be a higher bliss than the smiling face of my little one?” Yes, ma'am, knowledge and consciousness and realization and power are much higher joys than the smiling face of your baby.

On the contrary, we have girls who break up because the man says, “I do not want babies. I want you to lead a full and free life directed toward knowledge and liberation. I do not want you to be settled with babies.” And the girl breaks up. She says, “What kind of man, probably impotent.” Six weeks into a relationship, she starts clamouring for marriage, and six weeks into the marriage, she starts clamouring for cultural conditioning the ideal desi girl. And there would be so many who would actually be celebrating that we are ahead of China now.

Yes, literacy is a contraceptive, but wisdom is the best contraceptive.

Q: Sir, this is exactly what I wanted to point out, what you just said, because I was looking at numbers, and this is very true that literacy is going up, the TFR is falling, and the fertility rate will continue to fall for India also, but still, we will keep growing because of the sheer momentum which has already been built.

What's interesting is that I was just reading that in the UK in 2022, this post-pandemic lockdown era, the fertility rate has gone up after a decade. It was 2012 or something, and it kept on falling slowly, slowly, it was some 1.4 something, and it became 1.51 something in 2022. And I mean, there's nothing to say about the literacy rate of a developed nation like Britain. So, the point is that, as you just very well mentioned, education itself is not enough.

AP: Also, one more thing, it's not just that the covet period gave them a lot of free time and leisure time, and hence the fertility rates went up. It's not just the time factor, something additional as well as the fear factor. The more afraid you are, the more you are likely to reproduce. The more insecure you feel, the more desperately you want to have kids. And wisdom and spirituality alone can drive away your core fear. So, in spite of being educated, if you are somebody terrified, you'll still procreate more.

I could speak endlessly for hours, you know. We have not yet talked about the impact of population, human population, the population of this one species on the populations of millions of other species, even billions of other species. We have not talked about what it means to have one additional homo sapiens on this planet and what that means to the other species, what that means to the planet itself and its entire ecosystem.

We just talked about keeping human beings at the centre, especially female human beings, but if we could widen the perspective, we would find the human population is the biggest curse on this planet. The day a human baby is born its entire existence weeps and moans. The day a human kid is born, rest assured entire existence is weeping and goes into mourning. That's the impact of one human birth, and still, I don't know, it's all very appalling. I'll stop here.

Q: Thank you very much.

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