Population is the most popular sport in India after cricket. And it does not require massive infrastructure! It does not require 11 men and 11 women playing separately on large, lush fields in the glare of arc lights and it is not played on TV. In fact, it’s just the opposite. With the pandemic, the popularity of the former game increased while that of the latter dipped. The connection seems a bit weird because as games people play, they are very dissimilar in the way they are conducted and their outcome(s)!
As avid followers and players of this game, Indians have given India an almost unbeatable edge over the rest of the world, barring China. Today, it has 18% of the world's population and is marginally behind China in the world's population stakes and that is why perhaps, there’s a new game in town –– Population undo Battle Ground (PUBG), that’s gaining popularity like it has, only once before, and it is totally developed in India, though modeled on neighborly precedents. Given the scale of the popularity of the population game, its popularity must be induced!
While India might be behind China in the population stakes, it is marginally ahead in the popularity stakes because of its democratic credentials, found mostly in the pages of the Constitution of India, which is the most populous in terms of words in the world - it has 117,369 words in the English version. Do we take our cue for our population from it?
But it is kept young and productive as it is amended from time to time like our own population. With a life expectancy of just 70 years, the older generation doesn’t last very long, but before they depart, they do their bit for India and that is how we have a median age of 28.4 which can and does contribute a lot to the nation in terms of productivity - whether at the workplace (if they can find one) or at home, they are undeterred by the sex ratio of 108 males to every 100 females according to statistics.com. That’s a lot of pressure.
It’s probably this pressure, that has prompted a state government to vote down its own home productivity norms with a population control bill that advocates the two-child norm and proscribes government benefits (the few that reach out to you) for those with more than two. Other state governments are expected to pick up the cue and play snooker soon enough.
Quite piquantly though, the tag line for more than half of those who are party to this new bill of human reform, is “We can’t have just two”-They are more precious than Lay’s Potato Chips! The irony is that those who violate this norm, legislate it into law and defend its objectives in public, have more than two children, and one presumes will continue to get their benefits Allowances and pension) from the state's coffers. Charity begins at home they say and rightly so!
There’s another side to this new game though! A more challenging one. Will a population collapse, prevent us from colonizing Mars?
Last Tuesday, the Twitter handle of one of the greatest innovators / Entrepreneurs of our time Elon Musk's fan club - Tesla Owners of the East Bay - came out on Twitter with news of a 'population collapse' that may happen sooner rather than later and lauded Musk, the father of seven kids, for "making tangible efforts" to keep population collapse at bay. Musk took this tweet in his stride and said that he was trying to set a good example. Perhaps he was not aware that there are so many good examples in our own country. Musk hopes his next will be a baby girl! We hope so too.
The conversation was prompted by the 2020 report by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation of the University of Washington that showed that the global fertility rate is likely to take a hit by 2050 and 2100. The study, published in the Lancet, showed that the global fertility rate nearly halved to 2.4 in 2017 and will fall below 1.7 by 2100. It does seem like lack of fertility will be the new pandemic and a simple injection won’t solve the problem!
He went on to say, “Population collapse is a much bigger problem than people realise and that’s just for Earth," he wrote. He further stressed that Mars needs people as the 'population is currently zero'. The SpaceX CEO has a life-long dream of establishing a human presence in Earth's neighbouring planet.
India too plans missions to Mars, as its population density is extremely high – 464 per Km2 (1,202 people per mi2) - quite akin to a box of Lego squares and must beware of a population collapse as suggested by the University of Washington. But then should that happen in India post PUBG, they can still do it through NASA and SpaceX. There are a lot of Indians there.
In his tweet, Musk posted, "Humans are the custodians of other life on Earth. Let us bring life to Mars!" And so, we must. Besides, it's just a game that must be played with the right spirit. There’s no competition, only repetition! But all this popular population posturing begs the question, why make driverless cars and trucks? What will the extra grown-up kids do if there are no jobs before they land on Mars?
There’s another deeply practical question we must focus on. If we take the example of this great innovator, does it mean that having fewer kids would mean the death of innovation and entrepreneurship in India? Certainly, it is the case with ease of doing business in the days to come – there will be fewer people to employ and the driverless cars and planes that everyone is making/planning to make will come in handy, and they will be older, but Arnoud de Meyer says, they will be more productive.
Writing in the Straits Times Arnoud de Meyer said, “The older you get, the more productive you are at work”. This he wrote based on studies at German carmakers which show that with the right tools and environment, older workers get more productive. The Keywords are ‘Right Tools and Environment’. The only misgiving that companies may have is that their salaries will be higher because of experience! Home productivity will be limited though creating a self-perpetuating population collapse.
Let me leave you with the choice of life (time) – population collapse or population relapse.
Got to play by the rules my friend, the rules, until next week.
Don’t Mingle even if you Tingle!
This Article is written in a lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connection with any such real-life event or character, rest assured it's purely coincidental.
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians
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