Bursting at the Seams

If you want to drive a car or a motorcycle, you need to undergo training and then appear for tests to get your license. You cannot drive without a license. Similarly, if you want to fly a plane or drive a forklift, you need a license. To get the license, you need to study key concepts and learn the right way to do things and what to avoid.

We have a great education process everywhere to educate children and to try to make them productive citizens. Once the technology boom came of age, many education systems began including computer literacy as part of the curriculum. school education is not a substitute to responsible parenting but does the job of laying the basic foundation of responsible citizenship.

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A village

 

Two main aspects of our life have been consistently ignored in the curriculum. These are financial literacy and concept of family planning. The evolution of financial services is not a new thing and neither is human reproduction and family building. So it seems illogical to see these two critical areas neglected.

If we look at the state of various nations and the general population, we see two distinct trends. Well developed countries with a great standard of living facing decreasing population while the poorer countries with sparse infrastructure and poverty facing a population explosion. This is followed by an exodus of people from the poorer countries to the wealthier countries in search of a better life.

Earth

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Monkeys on the roof: Human animal barriers are constantly broken with our relentless push to claim forest land.

Why this disparity in population growth? The reason is that in developed nations, the spread of education had led people into productive careers that enabled a greater standard of living and time to think about progressive opportunities. This in turn led people to devoting a greater part of their life to building a productive career and marriages got postponed. Even married couples were keenly aware of what it takes to succeed and maintain a great standard of living and attain their full potential. Therefore, they delayed having children until they were sure that they could provide adequate education and support to their children to make them successful. The result was a drop in population.

On the other hand, poverty stricken countries were unable to spread basic literacy. People got married as soon as possible to have support. Having more children meant more hands to work and bring potential income. When parents died of malnutrition or disease, the number of orphans grew. So did the population grow.

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Dogs fighting on the roof in a slum

The NGO’s for very good reason wanted to provide the poor children of such countries and have set up a well oiled system to collect donations from developed nations to feed and nurture the orphans. This is akin to using buckets to throw water out of a sinking boat instead of plugging the hole. Not as much has been done to promote family planning and educating the masses about the responsibility of having a child and imparting financial literacy.

The population boom is causing a lot of stress on scarce resources. We are responding to this by mining more, creating hybrid and genetically modified crop, taking more forest land for civilization and in the process eradicating many species every year. We are now in a stage where water is more expensive than gas in most countries.

What happens to the millions of orphans and poor populations across the world that find it a hopeless existence? They have no idea of what life can really offer and no career prospects. Faced with a dead end, they are not invested in the “Socio-economic terms of engagement” we call as civilization. This large population is a ticking time bomb.  We  recently saw an exodus of refugees from Syria, millions of people from many other nations apart from Syria took the opportunity to over run the European borders desperate to make a better life.

Nations are very conscious of their sovereignty and it was shocking to see how their border controls were overwhelmed by the sheer number of desperate people (and some potential opportunists). I say potential opportunists because this was followed by a rash of sexual assaults on New year’s eve in Cologne that confounded the authorities who had never seen such a phenomenon before and were ill prepared. More than 170 complaints of sexual assaults were filed with the police. This reminds us that the rule of law whether it pertains to border control or social harmony is just an illusion. If tested, the forces of rule of law may find it very difficult to restore order.

The right thing to do would now be to look at leadership of nations as a profession and install a code of conduct and minimum qualifications to ensure that anyone standing for office in any country should know what their responsibilities are as a leader to the millions that they aspire to lead. It has become fashionable for clannish leadership and you can see many world leaders who come from a dynasty that has always lead their country. This has to be replaced with some basic qualification that should include a bit of economics, science, ethics and civics. Family planning should be a core activity of every government and it should be done with an eye on demographics of the country and its impact on the economy.

Children who are born into this vicious cycle of poverty did not ask to be here. They were bought here by parents who did not know better. This cycle can only be broken with education and the results will only be felt in a hundred years. Politicians have to understand the enormous responsibility they shoulder and should think carefully and govern responsibly. Till then we have to continue with the hopeless task of feeding the millions thinking that we are making the world a better place.

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