Musings on World Population Day




A scene of commuters boarding a local train in Mumbai

Amitabh Kumar Das

Today is July 11. The World Population Day. Like Holi, Diwali and Eid, it comes every year and is celebrated also. Some inevitable seminars as a ritual. Some human chains. Some placards and banners. But nothing changes on the ground. People keep bleeding like rabbits and Mother Earth , like an Indian mother, struggling to feed her too many children. The poor planet bursting at its seams.

I remember Babban Khan, a young man from Hyderabad. Babban lost many brothers and sisters to starvation. A distraught Babban wrote a one act play, ADRAK KO PANJE or ADRAK KE PANJE. The play depicted that an unplanned family resembled a shapeless ginger. Babban himself staged the play hundreds of time in India and abroad to popularise family planning. But to no avail.

Do you know that trains in India carry 2 crore passengers daily? This equals the population of Australia. And then the Indians complain about pickpocketing in running trains! And our dear Biharis. Their craving for  a son, a putra ratna, is insatiable. And they beget a dozen daughters until they are BLESSED with a son. And when these fools fail to make both ends meet, they blame Nehru for all ills plaguing India!

Nehruji has become the favourite whipping boy. First beget 13 children. Then abuse Nehruji with khaini in your mouth! Now I remember my own childhood. The year  was 1975. Those were the Emergency days. NASBANDI (vasectomy) was the buzzword. I was too small to understand what it meant. But on walls, big family planning messages were painted with the ubiquitous Red Triangle. After the Emergency, nasbandi became a dirty word and the whole country suffered. The atom bomb destroyed Hiroshima. The population bomb has destroyed India. Even buying a train ticket is as difficult as winning an Olympic medal. You buy two train tickets. What do you get? Tickets with waiting list numbers 138 and 139! Don’t blame Nehruji again.

The fault, dear Brutus, lies in our stars. I belong to Darbhanga, a small town on the bank of the river Bagmati in North Bihar. In the 1970s, Darbhanga was a beautiful town. Full of greenery. Large, open spaces. Big ponds full of fish. Swaying palm trees. Fast forward to 2000s. My heart sinks when I enter my beloved Darbhanga. An overcrowded, congested, filthy town. Gone are the ponds of my childhood. They have been filled up to build houses for a burgeoning population. Trees have been cut. The town is full of dust where any asthma patient can choke to death! But people are obsessed with marriages and children. Any good news? Any good news? Childless couples are bombarded with this question, day and night. And starving, naked children roam the  streets of Darbhanga.

So what is the solution?

I have always advocated a one child norm. EK AULAAD , NEK AULAAD (One Child, Worthy Child). And I always salute childless couples! So dear readers. Ponder over it. Otherwise, the entire human race will meet dinosaurs’ fate. And soon there will be nobody to celebrate the World Population Day.

July 11 will come and go!

(Amitabh Kumar Das is an IPS Officer. His views are personal.)