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Presently, India faces many challenges due to its explosive population. The massive population complicates any solutions that may ameliorate the socioeconomic, political, and environmental challenges that the country faces. India’s population exponentially depletes the county’s tangible and social resources, which makes it difficult to bring a quality of life to its people. The basic, problematic issues, such as political corruption and illiteracy, are magnified by the population growth. For example, the political corruption that is present among the population makes it difficult to reduce poverty since resources are not always directed to where they need to go. Until India gets a control on its population, the country will never make significant headway on these other issues.
Overpopulation, as well as over industrialization and a lack of planning from the government, creates massive environmental degradation: “Possessing a large population […] will lead to growing strains on their environment and on their scarce supply of arable land. Unless they seriously modify the nature of their economic growth, this could lead to large-scale environmental crises as the century progresses” (259). These problems include massive deforestation, soil erosion, air pollution, water pollution, and electricity shortages. Thus, due to the low average age of the Indian population the impact has yet to reach fruition.
[IMPACT on earth]
Figure 1. The IPAT equation is a conceptual expression of the factors that create environmental impact. IPAT is an accounting identity stating that environmental impact is the product of three terms: 1) Population 2) Affluence 3) Technology. India has the makings to deal with certain challenges; however, the population size of this country makes it nearly impossible to apply the resources adequately.
Yet even today, many untouchables and those in the lower castes are too poor to afford an adequate diet. India “remains home to more than a third of the world’s chronically malnourished children as defined by United Nations, and has an average life expectancy and literacy rate that lags pitifully behind many developing countries, most glaringly China.” (9)
On the international stage, India is a nuclear power wedged between two unpredictable nuclear nations, Pakistan and China. The long dispute with Pakistan over the Kashmir province could result in a nuclear disaster if it not taken seriously. Pakistan’s nuclear power and its terrorist groups threaten the peace in the region. In the future, water from the Indus River will be another source of conflict between the two countries. Moreover, sharing a border with another densely populated rising power, China, will cause conflict in the future when resources are exhausted. India faces a rocky road that will encounter social upheaval, political unrest, military violence, and religious conflict.
One alternative to this bleak future is to create small, sustainable communities that live more in balance with their surroundings. Auroville is a model for India, but the solution would need to come in the form of “profound social reform at the grassroots level” (46) and not from external “Western” forces .
“But it is at the side of the expressways in the glaring billboards advertising cell phones, iPods, and holiday villas and the shiny gas stations with their air-conditioned mini-supermarkets that India’s schizophrenic economy reveals itself. Behind them, around the, and beyond them is the unending vista of rural India, of yoked bullocks plowing in the fields in the same manner they have for three thousand years and the primitive brick kilns that dot the endless patchwork of fields of rice, wheat, pulse, and oilseed. There are growing pockets of rural India that are mechanizing and becoming more prosperous” (Luce 2008:25)