Keep in focus the Indian context and control population explosion

K.K. Sethi

One had the chance to go through a very nice presentation by R. Rajagopalan, ex- IIT Professor, about environment. It started with a musical presentation and included a nice video (obviously borrowed feathers from the western world) of a youngster singing about environment, it is unfortunate that no indian boy has been able to record such a video. With so many public residential schools, it should not be a difficult task. it may not represent the Indian context but at least the face would be familiar.

Indeed in such presentations, the Indian context is conspicuous by its absence. We talk eloquently of the need to preserve the environment, eliminate use of coal for energy, sacrifice road and rail development for the sake of trees, preserve the bio-diversity of isolated pockets and conservation of wildlife.

It was left to one of our colleagues to strike at the root of the problem – the explosion of population of which no environmentalist likes to talk about.

Resources are limited and the number of consumers is going up. The need for extra resources can only come at the cost of environment.- open space, green cover, fallow land, all are and have to be under pressure because of increasing number of humans.

The argument about technological advance has limited use when the basic inputs like education, health, cleanliness, are stagnant. Productivity is a function of physical and mental variables. And these are further functions of awareness. Despite all the talk about awareness through pamphlets and radio/ TV broadcasts, awareness comes only from basic knowledge about environment, itself an ingredient of education (not literacy).

Ultimately it comes down to quality of education which has been a victim of consumerism and also of statistics.

We went for figures and not for quality; for targets, not output; for paper progress on paper not achievement; for reservation (or what is called euphemistically reverse discrimination) and not merit; for freebies, not determination for success; for claiming backwardness, not progress. The list is endless and so also the tasks for making this country great. The only alternative available is to talk in terms of isolated issues instead of holistic approach. At least it gives mental satisfaction even while being aware that things are bound to deteriorate, not improve.

The solution – in one phrase – control population.

KK Sethi has held several important posts and was Chief Secretary Manipur and President Board of Revenue in Madhya Pradesh. As Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, he had presented to the President of India, the forty-fourth Annual Report under Article 350- B (2) of the Constitution for the implementation of the constitutional provisions and Nationally Agreed Scheme of Safeguards provided to linguistic minorities.

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