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Couple of things I wanted to add on population. Other than infant
mortality, etc. the most common reasons are greater number 'free' hands
to help toil the land, harvest, etc. so everything remains in the
family. Also, a common approach for balance in family is most children
help in the fields while one or two work for others/inthe city/wherever
to get additional cash flow. From the family perspective, given the
context, it is not surprising at all. There are several studies, PBS
documentaries that reveal the facts. Education is unarguably the
greatest long term solution to probably everything.  Change takes place
with a generation. At the same time, the people who produce a lot of
children are not all sexual maniacs nor are they all totally foolish. I
think this reality has to be understood and dealt with from bottom up
rather than the other way. Public policy from public to policy rather
than policy to public (whatever that means!).

Now, the need for "free" helping hands has come due to all or some of
the following reasons - 
decades of deforestation resulting in ecological imbalance and reduction
of arable land as in the case of UP etc., forcing people to migrate to
cities (apart from several studies done on this subject, talk to any
taxiwallah in bombay, lot of them come from there and have the same
story to tell ) which is reducing available hands. The other reasons
include, marginal farmers, debt - resulting in need for greater income
generation and I do not know what else.

This of course is only one of the many faces that population has.
Whether population is a major problem or not, I am not personally
convinced. Africa  has one of the lowest densities and numbers  and yet
they are one of the poorest. Arguments can made from any stand point.
The easiest one being, "maan........look at your population, that's your
main problem." But yes, if we go at this rate it could soon become a
problem. I think education of the masses and the policy makers in a true
democratic manner is the best contraceptive. Then, economic success  and
other things will automatically evolve. Education in a true democratic
manner is a realization that what is good or bad for Group A cannot be
decided by Group B, It has to be Group Ab and not Ba. When an agrarian
and an industrial/hi tech  economies/cultures co-exist like the way they
do in India, cognitive domination is the most dangerous thing and it is
happening. The legacy of MacCauley's - 'brown sahib'  continues. Take a
look at Gandhi, he realised this and therefore to do something about the
problem of the masses he became one of them. That doesn't mean we also
start wearing dhoti's but simply that our know how, rationale,
attitudes, convictions, tastes, lifestyle do not enitrely represent
those of the masses, who live in an entirely different time and reality.
Approach as defined by Mr. Reddy ( i forget his full name - I can get it
later if you'd like) who did pioneering work on Bio-gas in an AP village
represents the true meaning of democracy and the true meaning of
utilizing education. 

The force of development today is a torque. When one goes ahead the
other goes behind. That is why we see the most "developed" of the
countries who produce the most also wastes the most. I want to see us
learn from this, and define a society that takes humanity further in
this process of evolution. I think our policies should reflect this
underlying principle. How do we do that?........................some
thoughts follow next time, since I got to get back to work now. In the
meanwhile, get those sledge hammers out and clobber me! ( may be next
time I will talk about Godzilla).

just another overeducated, third world, materialistic, 
self centered, attention seeking empty vessel making a lot of noise,