Saturday, April 16, 2011

Do population control policies do more harm than good?

What exactly is a human right? In my opinion, it is an innate and inalienable right to make life decisions, possessed by all human beings, regardless of any distinctions that may divide us. A human right also represents a form of equality between all human beings who come from different walks of life. The decision to determine the size of one’s family is a well-defined human right. The problem associated with population control policies is that, in general, they compromise this fundamental human right of deciding one’s family size, often using draconian methods of execution to do so. The population statistics at the end of the year may reflect the success of these policies, but do mere numbers reflect the agony that people are burdened by?

Population control policies, where implemented pervasively, have been successful in reducing population growth rates and protecting countries from the hovering issue of overpopulation. For example, the one-child policy in China, which dictates that married couples are legally allowed to have only one child, helped in reducing the population growth rates from a staggering average of 2.8% in 1970 to about 0.5% in 2009! On the statistical level, this seems like a marvellous achievement. But in reality, such a steep drop in population growth could not have been achieved without cruel and inhumane methods of execution.

The principal problem associated with population control policies is that their success depends on draconianism. A staggering reduction in population growth cannot be achieved in a short period of time without infringing human rights. This is exactly what happened in China. To implement the one-child policy, forced contraception, sterilization and abortion became the norm. A chilling fact to illustrate this is that every fourth woman in China has undergone a forced abortion once in her lifetime. Aggravated by China's cultural preference for males, the one-child policy has also led to the cruel practice of female infanticide- the act of intentionally killing female infants and foetuses. Female infanticide is now creating a major problem of gender imbalance in China. A similar scenario occurred in India during the late 1970s; where the government-led population control drive resorted to widespread enforced sterilization and abortions, leading to female infanticide and gender imbalance. Now knowing the heinous nature of population control, does the massive reduction in population growth seem as marvelous?

There are certainly more humane and effective alternatives to reduce population growth. One of best and most natural alternatives is improving education in the country. By improving education, both women and men will be able to better understand the consequences of having a large family. This would encourage them to have a smaller family without force from the government. This is exactly what Iran did in the late 1900s and as a result of this effort, population growth rate reduced from 3.9% in 1985 to 1.3% in 2009. This fact is also re-iterated by the examples of many countries. For instance, Canada, having a literacy rate of 99.0%, has a small population growth rate of 0.82% while Niger, with a literacy rate of 28.7%, has a comparatively large population growth rate of 3.68%. Furthermore, the benefits of promoting education are not limited to controlling population size. Education also improves the skill levels of the population. This helps in the development of the economy, society, politics and even the quality of life.

In conclusion, I feel that population control policies have done more harm to the world than good. They infringe human rights and destroy the quality of life. Overpopulation is a serious problem and for that very reason, it should be given due importance. It should not be looked at as a short-term problem that can be fixed quickly with authoritarian measures. It is a long-term problem and it must be solved with patience and understanding, not by force. Education and other humane measures must be implemented.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Realm of logic

Fascinated by the Mechanics
He left everything behind 
His faith
His purpose
His entirety

Never looking back
He dived into the pool of logic
Swimming amidst the giants
Even Newton

Observing the neuronal nature of information
Understanding the fundamental links
He couldn't help but revel in  
The essence of mechanical thought

As the experience elevated him 
Everything changed
The power of thought prevailed
Symmetrical variables resembled his brain

Just as he reached an epiphany
He lost interest in the swim
Drowned by the forces of nature
He sank to the infinite

The very logic that empowered him
The very logic that symbolized him
That logic killed him

The very logic that he gave up his life for
The very logic that, in his eyes, basked in elegance 
That logic killed him

For logic is itself partial in nature
No matter how general
It answers only some
But certainly not all

Whatever the situation
Never give up faith
Never give up resolve
For they are the real drivers
Which lead us to Dawn.

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Monday, April 11, 2011


Closing my eyes
I let my soul gracefully escape

Led to the temple of Borobudur
I met someone familiar

Engraved in cold, dark stone
Bright and warm Gautama

He was sitting
In his symbolic lotus stance

Overlooking the jagged mountains
Enduring the cold winds

An expression of calm and peace filled the air
The Universe was his; his to rule

He looked right through me
And understood everything

Sit here!
There is much to be learnt

As we meditated 
There was a mystic silence

But in mere moments
The winds began their dance

Hollow currents waled 
Temperatures plummeted

My body cried 
Is this paradise?

As the heavens poured
I felt a surge of warmth

Resolution encased me 
Revolution drove me

There was so much peace amidst pain
Happiness amidst suffering

I could sit there forever
I could endure whatever nature threw at me

"Suffering is the key to happiness"
Gautama spoke.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Please come again

Oh, Atreya
The Buddha within me laments

He appears in my life every now and then
Rarely when I need him most

His presence and power is infinite
Tapping endlessly into the abundance which he calls the Universe

He represents a commonality among us beings
The elusive factor of equality
The desired trait of equanimity

He is the embodiment of the great phenomenon of life
Boundless wisdom
Unending mercy

He looks at me with disappointment
Folding his gentle arms
Slowly shaking his head 
A tender smile

My dear Atreya
When will you understand?

When you suffer
You're merely a point in space and time
Swaying with the chaos of life

When you suffer
You're alone
Inherent delusions bet on your fate

Expand yourself to embody the vastness of this universe
The diversity of this beautiful world

Look not through a single dimension
Judge not with anger and singularity in mind
Good and Evil are intertwined
Nobody and nothing is absolute

Change your world-view
Make the entirety of the universe your eyes

The world is peculiar indeed
But we are all here for a reason
And we all have a debt to pay

Words of wisdom 
Profound wisdom
Please come again.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Talking on the phone
I was encased in your love
In your queer, yet tender drive for truth

As I spoke
As you spoke
As we laughed at my silliness
I couldn't help but feel
That humanity is real

Just as we said goodbye
Somebody decided to say "hi"
Aap Hindi bolte ho?

Haan ji, thordi bohot ji
Aap India say ayai ho?

Smooth as silk
Pristine with humility and worldly respect
Your words brought me back to my little life in India
Embodying the humanistic culture that I have come to love

Even though I didn't understand much of what you said
Even though after ten minutes I didn't know where you really came from
There was just something so profoundly pure about you
A gem of a heart

Flushed with a deep sense of happiness and compassion
Wondering if you felt the same
I couldn't help but ask
Yahan zyaada loag Hindi nahin bolte hain, na?

A gentle grin lit up your beautiful face
You understood
Haan... Yahan zyaada nahin bolte hain
Hindi bolne say hamara dil khush hota hain.

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