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This blog is named after one of my poems. Even thought its not the best of the lot, I just fell in love with those words- The Psyche Unknown...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Disguising my India...

This topic has been fairly running in my mind for quite some time and a recent conversation has pushed me into writing this pronto. I don't know if anyone will feel offended after reading this, but if you do, you must understand that I am just expressing concern over an issue that ought to be given a thought, rather solved soon pending which the impact in future will be significant in an awry way.

An acquaintance here today who has visited India couple of times was recounting his experiences and as with any foreigner he started off with the “quantity of spice in food” to bad roads to unbearable traffic to India's growth. I was quite used to explaining people about the first three. But the last topic hit me hard because I realized I did not know answers to the questions that surfaced in the discussion. He was being very polite with curiosity but I found myself in a web that I couldn't clamber out of easily. It slowly dawned, 'Growth' is the answer to so many of India's problems today and will probably be in future too.

Its nice to know we are growing in all spheres-scientific, economic social etc., surpassing all boundaries and gaining new heights with every step we take. But there is growth in one particular field which is often overseen, in most families neglected. I am talking about the population growth. Why do we Indians forget that we are expanding beyond the point of explosion and still procreate even after a healthy beautiful child was conceived earlier? I can understand if this was the case with the previous generation. Still in the 70's-80's or even early 90's population wasn't much of a threat. But what is wrong with the current highly-qualified generation who has seen the world, understands the threats to want more of their own gene pool bobbling in front of their eyes?! Many couples argue that its the elderly (who have already grandparented more than once, considering the count they themselves were responsible for) in the families requesting for new products to be manufactured and supplied so that they can spend their last days playing with them! And no, it cannot be brought off a shelf, it has to be made in-house! While hundreds of thousands of kids lay orphaned in the direst of conditions, the influx of those children is increasing who really have little or no clue of the imminent risk they are running into.

Procreation and variation in gene pool is very much necessary to continue the species, to carry forth the name, different traditions, culture, knowledge, heritage and in some cases businesses. But considering that the birth rate is about 25% while the death rate is about 9% for every 1000 people, doesn't it become the responsibility of every citizen to ensure that we have only what we will need for progress in harmony than have a surplus of human resource who fight for every other available seed for sustenance? Consider this, you and me will not have trouble during our life time, its the next generation that is going to suffer. If you have been in a city like Bangalore you will see the development and the increase in population over the last ten years grow manifold and you will also notice/complain about how there is no more place, how things are getting expensive, how there is not enough land up for purchase and definitely not many houses that can be bought. Everyone needs it. Everyone is in a pursuit of house, vehicles(atleast two-wheelers if not four) and being Indians, gold amongst the materialistic entities while simultaneously demand for lesser traffic, cleaner air, more space and what not! How on earth will anyone be able to provide all these if the population just keeps sky-rocketing? The usable land remains the same unless of course you start adding rural areas to the city limits as well. In that case if the arable lands and farmers are forced into different careers, then how can the food demands be met for a higher number of people?

Big families don't necessarily lead to a healthy, bonding society. I once lived across a family which probably had a sole goal in life-to populate the world. In pursuit of it, every year came a new entree into the market. And being rich as they were, they celebrated every one of the joyous occasions marking the successful anniversaries of each product. Of the many ignored birthday invites (to save my money on gifts) I picked up one random nipper who was unlucky enough to be graced by my satire presence. I had gone there just to count the total head. It was impossible. The gradient in looks and size wasn't that big and I just kept counting all of them over and over again. The house ran in chaos while the matriarch of the house just sat in her fat armchair overlooking her tired production unit(read daughter in law) who herself was haplessly gazing at her troublesome products. There really wasn't any enthusiasm in her eyes. Of course, if every month you had a commodity demanding cake and balloons, would you be spreading joy? Yes, I don't like calling them children. It seemed to me like a production house for humans where the machines in the production line never found rest time! Either the couple hadn't heard of birth control methods or they had some superficial dreams and beliefs. Just think, if the parents cant spend enough time on each of their kids what is the point of bringing them into existence?Its bad enough that we have a terrible percentage of unproductive, inefficient people, do we need more of them? Atleast that section of people is ok, do we need sociopaths or psychopathic additions to the society? Oh, this applies to a 2-children family as well. I have known instances where one of them is ignored, so that the other gets the light of the hour. Seriously, is that why the seconders are conjured?

The main detrimental aspect is the Indian mentality of conservative shyness when it comes to birth control methods. Many couples claim some of their conceptions is because of an “accident” where the doctor's prescribed pills did not work exactly the way it should have on the woman's reproductive system. How difficult is it for men to take one step forward to buy some protection? Why is it acceptable rather expected for a woman to take B.C pills prescribed by a doctor that involves so much risk and money, not to mention adverse effects on health, while all men have to do is buy a pack around the corner of the street? One of my friend was telling me how condoms are available for as low as Rs. 3 (its true, check the websites!) and as discreet as in places like the gents restrooms of malls and showrooms. Is it really “Oh what will the other person think of me if I buy this?” or is it just plain ignorance combined with arrogance?  Its the tradition of keeping it under covers as though its some pagan ritual that Indians should really rise out of. 

We are not far behind..
Chinese who are currently world no. 1 in terms of population, have some policies that they strictly follow. One child per family, More than that? pay more taxes! And to see, its working out efficiently. At the present rate, we will surpass the Chinese by 2030. In India too, if they can bring some policies like that AND FOLLOW THEM strictly, then we can keep a check on our population too and thus ensuring equal opportunities for all in every matter. This was what was going on in my mind when my western acquaintance asked why we don't have a policy to curb this godforsaken rate of increase! I told him that we do have a 2 children policy and his immediate question was, what happens if you have the third one? I did not have an answer because nothing happens in India! Why are we so negligent about it? We have all the time to divide states and pay foreigners giant bills to play in some chaotic, senseless tournaments but we don't have time to solve the problems on hand!
A simple policy (This was suggested by the same friend mentioned above and I support)-
One child per family- Reduction in taxes,
One child+an adoption-further reduction in taxes,
More than one-Increase the taxes(by a specific percentage),
No offsprings-Minimum taxes.
No offsprings+adoption-No taxes!

The tax reduction or increase doesn't have to be more, trust me, considering the Indian mentality, people will definitely think for every tiny percent of increase or decrease in their tax slips! The government too can make quite some revenue with it considering that there will be a few nonchalant people and few more idiots who will make up for all the sensible (albeit a few) lot's taxes..If only this was possible somehow..

You could mock me calling me an “outsider” at the present but I am still an Indian and it hurts to know that my country has some shortcomings and that the world knows about it, worse laughs about it. Its even more a fierce battle within when I cannot defend cos we really aren't working on solving it. If we were making an effort then I could proudly defend my country's honor in front of the western eye.
But sadly, I did convince them in a totally polar approach (by pointing out the human resources and potential because of the increase; the marquee of Indians covering the globe etc.) although it was basically me trying to reaffirm my love for my country by disguising one of its many negative tapers. I am sure many other expats have tidied the crumbles this way which beyond doubt is not a permanent solution for our own good within India and outside too.