The more, the messier

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  • The spectre of over-population casts a gloomy pall on our present and future

What you see when you set eyes on a child? A little angel? A cute bundle of joy? A small person with adorable antics? A nuisance? A future sad, miserable adult who knows not what troubles await them as they gain in years? Take your time, think it through. Whether it is innocence that you adore or noise you abhor, a child is another innocuous-looking symptom of greatest malaise that imperil humankind i.e overpopulation. Procreation supported by advanced and affordable healthcare has not only resulted in longer lifespans but has ensured less child mortality rates as well. Natural resources, scarce and exploited to their extreme, coupled with rampant urbanization and sustained by an almost post-industrial age breathing under the pall of climate change are expected, in vain, to shoulder the behemoth of human population.

It won’t as it can’t.

The cute, little ones of today — when they’ll be neither cute nor little — will breathe and battle in a world no one has any idea or inkling about right now. The more, the merrier mindset with which their parents expanded their progeny will ultimately become the more, the messier real world scenario they’ll have to put up with. From 33.7 million people back in 1951 we are now 220 million souls dwelling on the same tract of land. We made progress in many avenues, however, in population we’ve marveled even beyond our dreams and nightmares put together.

While the middle class parents applaud the apex court’s decision to reign in private schools by regulating their fees, and poor parents make do with decrepit government educational institutions where education is imparted free of cost, the ultimate question that they shy away from is who’ll employ their genius, accomplished kids when they graduate a decade down the line?

Yuval Noah Harrari, a widely read historian-cum-seer of our times, is of the view, one among many, in his latest book ‘21 lessons for 21st century’ that advances in biotech and infotech and their intermingling in near future has the potential to render a great many among us redundant and irrelevant. Harrari, also, points out that humans in near future will be left with two options alone. To be lifelong learners possessing very strong capacity for adjustments every decade or so or perish as useless homo sapiens who could contribute nothing of value while gorging in valuable resources.

To be lifelong learners possessing very strong capacity for adjustments every decade or so or perish as useless homo sapiens who could contribute nothing of value while gorging in valuable resources

Keeping the above almost-doomsday scenario in mind, what world do you imagine our children will inherit? Let me tell you how I imagine it. It would be a world full of opportunities for the best of the best and hell on earth for those who have nothing novel to offer, nothing new to contribute and will resort to charity of the rich and aid of the benevolent governments. The wise, the shrewd, and the intelligent will not only rule but they’ll rule with extreme prejudice, wanton abandon or like caring mothers. Who they choose to become will be entirely their choice. The meek, the irrelevant and the redundant will be at complete mercy of God in heaven and mighty on earth.

Now a question. How many amongst us think along these lines when they plan to bring a new life in this world? How many even bother to think that giving birth to a child, the entire process, is done in under a year but once a child arrives in this world of wounds and miracles, he has potential of a savior and instincts of a savage. The care, the effort, the sources, and most importantly the love showered upon them is bound to be forgotten by those who learn later on that they are good for nothing consumers who are ill-fitted even to contribute to what they consume.

And then there will be a mass Epiphany, unlike any felt or sensed by any generation before. The realisation that the world is fine, seems fine, runs fine without majority of those who believed themselves to be epitome of creation or latest link in the evolutionary process would unravel the world as we know it. We are already feeling the pain, our children will rot in the agony.

And eventually, whether a man of faith or a sceptic, we will solemnly declare the wisdom inherent in what Schopenhauer, a 19th century German philosopher said about children: what sin have they committed that you bring them in this world.