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Population Causes Prosperity

Population Causes Prosperity

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Published by Raghav Bawa

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Published by: Raghav Bawa on Jun 24, 2012
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12/21/2012

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4
Population,Urbanisation,'Vision'and
Abundance"
SauvikChakraverti
Populationcausesprosperity.Urbanareas-denselypopulatedcitiesandtowns-possessmorecars,cellphonesandmillionairesthanvacantcountryside.Further,urbanisationisagrowingphenomenon-provingthatmoreandmorepeoplearefindingit'economic'toliveinplaceswherethedensityofpopulationishigh.Why?Becausetheseg~neratewealth.HongKong,Singapore,Tokyo,NewYork,London-thelistisendless.Urbanisationisalsothecuretohighpopulationgrowthrates.Peoplewhourbanisetheirexistencefindit'economic'tooptforsmallfamilies.Asmallfamilyisaninternationallyacceptedurban'value'.Urbanisationandglobalisation-thespreadofthisvalue-willdomoretobringdownthegrowthofournumbersthananyoftheexpensivestrategiespursuedbygovernmentstoday.,Thiscallsforaradicalrethinkofacceptedbeliefsre-gardingtheso-called'populationproblem'.Today,school-childrenaretaught,throughgovernment-approvedEconom-icstextbooks,thatpopulationisacauseofpoverty.Thestate-anditspersonnel-waxeloquentontheinsurmountabledimensionsofthisperceivedproblem.Thestrategiespur-suedbythestatetotacklethis'problem'involvehugeexpen-ditureswhichcostthetaxpayerdearwithoutmuchrecipro-calbenefit.
Population,Urbanisation,'Vision'andAbundance
57
Thesestrategies-attheirludicrousextreme-evenwenttotheextentofusingforce:SanjayGandhi'sprogrammeofmasssterilisationisfreshmemory.Theuseofforceis,ofcourse,anathematothosewhobelieveinfreedom.Thereisgreaterreasontochallengeitwhenthisforceisusedonthebasisofcompletelyfalseconceptionsofboththe'problem'aswellasthe'cure'.Theuseofforcebythestateissome-timesjustifiedonthegroundsthattheissueatstakeisthepromotionofthe'publicgood'.Inthisinstance,thestatecan-notclaimtohaveusedforcetowardssuchends.
HomoEconomicus
Thereisasimplereasonwhypopulation,i.e.people(andonlypeople),causeprosperity.Onlypeopleare'economic'.Youcanwatchthe
NationalGeographic
channelendlessly,andyouwillnevercomeacrossanyotherspeciesthathastheabilitytotrade,andtheconsequentabilitytogeneratewealth.AsAdamSmithnoted,onlyhumanshavethe'natu-ralpropensitytotruck,barterandexchange'.Smithaddedthatheneversawadogthatcouldexchangeabonewithanother.Youdonotseeweaver-birdsmakingnestsforearlybirdsinexchangeofthewormsthatthelatteraresoadeptatcollecting.Man'sespecialabilityisthatoftrading,notmanu-facturing,whicheventheweaver-birdcandoquitewell.Butbirdsdon'thavean'economy'simplybecausetheycannottrade.Theabilitytotrade-toexchange-anabilitythatonlyhumanbeingspossess,leadstoaphenomenoncalled'specialisation'.Becausehumanbeingsareeconomic,theydonothavetobeself-sufficientandworktowardsfulfillingalltheirneeds.Inthemarketeconomyyoucanjustbeagooddentistandobtaintheproduceoffarmersandindustrialistsandtheservicesofthebarber,thecookandthereceptionist.
Economicsisthestudy
of
thecreation
of
wealththroughthedivision
of
labour.
2
Dotsonthemaparewherethegreatestamountofspecialisation-thedivisionoflabour-ispossible,
 
58
Population:TheUltimateResource
Forthissimplereason,basedonbasicEconomics,popula-tiondensity-orurbanisation-isacauseofprosperity.Onlypeoplecantradeandconsequentlyspecialise.Thisisthewaywealthisproduced.Thisspecialisationismaximisedinurbanareas,whicharealldenselypopulated.Citiesandtownsaretheanthillsofhumancolonists.Theirpurposeiswealthcreation.Butsocialistdevelopmenteconomicsdoesnotviewpeopleinthislight.UnlikePeterBauer,whocarefullystudiedthebeneficialeffectsoftradeandtradersindevelopingcoun-tries,socialisteconomistsliketheNobelPrize-winnerGunnarMyrdaltheorisedthattheordinarypeopleofThirdWorldcoun-trieswereincapableoftakingrationaleconomicdecisionsandsoneededauthoritativeresourceallocationbyan'intel-lectual-moralelite':planners.Bauercallsthis'thedenialoftheeconomicprinciple'.Thisdenialis,ofcourse,stupidandwrong:poorpeoplebargainmorecarefullyinamarket.Theyhavepressingreasonstobemore'rational'thanbetteroffpeoplewhocanaffordtosquanderalittlemoneysometimes.Itisthisdenialthatforcessocialistdevelopmenteconomicstolookathumanbeingsasaproblemratherthanaresource.Further,socialismdeniedtradeandattemptedtopropupmanufacturing.Socialistdevelopmenteconomicswantedto'industrialise'Indiabyrestrictingtrade.Indiansareskilledtraders.IthasbeensaidthataBaniacanbuyfromaJewandselltoaScotandstillemergewithaprofit!Wehaveentirecommunitiesofskilledtraderswhocouldbegenerat-ingwealthforIndia.Insteadwehaveproppedupafewinef-ficientmanufacturers,protectedbytariffwallsandanincon-vertiblecurrency.Indiansstilldonotwantfreetrade.Theswadeshiwallahswanttocontinuetopropupdomesticmanu-facturing(neglectingtrade)inthesamemannerofthesocial-ists.Therearetwoaspectstothepopulationquestion.Ofcourse,itisacauseofprosperity-ifthereisfreetrade.
Population,Urbanisation,'Vision'andAbundance
59
Thereisthenthesecondquestion:IstheplanetEarthtoosmallforthehumanrace?Inotherwords,wasAllahbounti-ful,oristheretoolittleonplanetEarthtosustainallofus?Thislatterquestionistakenuplater.First,welookdeeperintoIndia'surbanisation.Urbanisationprovesthatpopulationcausesprosperity;butIndia'srecenturbanisationhasbeenheavilystatedirected.Unliketheperiodofcolonialurbande-velopmentwhichsawthebuildingofgreatcitiesandinnu-merablehillstations,modernIndiahasbeenanurbandisas-terzone.Sinceproblemsofovercrowdingaremostacuteinurbanareasweneedtoinquirewhetherthereissomethingwrongwiththewayoururbanareasaredeveloping,oristhereindeeda'populationproblem'.
Urbanisation
DavidClarkistheHeadoftheDepartmentofGeogra-phy,UniversityofCoventry.Hehascarefullystudiedthephe-nomenonofurbanisation,especiallyoverrecentdecades-.Hesaysthat,nottill1899,whenAdnaFerrinWeberpub-lished
TheGrowth
of
CitiesintheNineteenthCentury
didurbanstudybecome'acentralfocusofinquiryinthenewlyemergingdisciplineofgeography'.Urbanisationwasalim-itedphenomenonthenbut'inthelastthirtyyearsthatithasbecomevalidtotalkaboutanurbanworld:aworldinwhichurbanplacesandurbanlivingarethenormratherthantheexception'.Theyear1996has'markedamajorwatershedintheevolutionofhumansettlement',fortodayitcanbesaidthatmorethanhalftheworld'spopulationlivesintownsandcities:over2.6billionpeopleworldwideareurbanites."Nolongeraretownsandcitiesexceptionalsettlementformsinpredominantlyruralsocieties-theworldhasbecomeanur-banplace."IfwelookattheIndianscenario,alikelypictureemerges.ThericheststatesofIndia-Maharashtra,Gujarat,TamilNadu,Karnataka,Punjab,WestBengal,AndhraPradeshandKerala
 
60
Population:TheUltimateResource
_reportlevelsofurbanisationthatarehigherthantheall-Indiaaverageof30percent.MaharashtraandGujaratreporturbangrowthratesinexcessof3percent-significantlyhigherthantheirgrowthratesoftotalpopulation.Extrapolat-ingfromthelatestfiguresavailable'itwouldbesafetoas-sertthatthesetwostatesareapproachingtheworldaverageof50percenturbanisation.ThepoorestareasofIndia-likeBiharandAssam-reportlevelsofurbanisationthatbarelytouchdoubledigits.(SeeFigure4-1)Statisticalevidencefromourowncountrysupportsthethesisthatpopulationcausesprosperitybecauseurbanar-easarerich.Italsosupportsthebeliefthaturbanisationbringsdownpopulationgrowthrates:Kerala,thestatewiththelow-estpopulationgrowthrate,reportsthehighesturbangrowthrateinIndia-almost5percentannually.ItisundoubtedlytruethatthehighlevelofliteracyinKeralahasalottodowi.thitslowpopulationgrowthrate-buttheroleplayedbyItshugemigrantcommunityintransmittingurbanvaluesshouldnotbeoverlooked.Wherewillallthislead?DavidClarkbelievesthatthepopulationoftheworldwillstabiliseat85percenturbanlivingonjust7percentoftheEarth'sland.Theforcesofglobalisationwillpowertheprocess.Ashisstudyreveals,unlikeanearlierperiodintheevolutionoftheglobaleconomy,today'sglobalisationissendingindustrialisationtothepe-riphery.Inanearlierage,whentheindustrialrevoluti?nha?justbegunandtheworldeconomywascontrol.le~byirnpen-alistforces,manufacturingwouldtendtorestrictItselftothecoreoftheempire.Todaythingsaretheotherwayaround.Globalisationhasalsocometomeanthattheworldisnotonlythemarket;itisalsothefactory.Examplesabo~nd:ThereisanAmericantoycompanythathasasmallofficeInNewYorkwhichdesignsandmarketsitsproducts-allmanufac-turedoncontractbysmallfirmsinKorea,TaiwanandChina.Aleadingmanufacturerofathleticfootwearoperatesmuch
Population,Urbanisation,'Vision'andAbundance
61
thesameway.Therearewesternpublishingfirmswhichdotheirspecialisedjobslikeeditingandproof-readingathome,leaving'labour-intensive'workliketypesettingandprintingtocontractedpartiesintheFarEast.Duringthelastthirtyyears-andespeciallysoduringthelastten-theseforceshaveledtogreaterindustrialisationaswellasincreasedurbanisationintheperipheryoftheglobaleconomicsystem.Thesepro-cessesarenowaccelerating.(SeeFigure4-2).Lowincomecountriesinvariablyhavelowlevelsofurbanisation.Hereinlietheopportunitiesandthechallenges-espe-ciallyforthe'ThirdWorld'.ThecitiesoftheThirdWorldareparticularlynotableasenvironmentaldisasterzones.Indiaisnoexception.Bombay,Delhi,Calcutta,Madras,Bangalore,Hyderabad,Poona...thesegreatcitieswhichboastedahighqualityoflifehavenowbecomegapingsoresontheEarth'senvironment.Thequalityofairinallthesecitieshasbecomeunacceptable.Standardsofcivichygieneareabys-mal.Mattersofgreatenvironmentalconcern-likesewagetreatmentandgarbagedisposal-donotattractsufficientpublicinvestment.Environmentallyfriendlysystemsofrapidmasstransportationdonotexist.Noneofthesegreatcitieshaveeffectivemunicipalorganisation.Theyareusuallyseatsofstategovernments-andthesehigherlevelsofgovern-mentholdallthepowers.Delhiisunique:poweroveritsaf-fairsaresharedbythecentralgovernment,thestategovern-ment,aLieutenant-GovernorandahostofunaccountablestatalbodiesliketheDelhiDevelopmentAuthority.Apartfromthesebigcities,Indiansliveinhundredsofbigtownsandthousandsofsmalltowns.Theconditionsinthesearemuchworse.Untreatedsewagefromthesetownspolluteseverymajorriverinesystem.Noneofthesetownshaveanadministrativelycompetent,financiallysolventandpubliclyaccountablesystemofmunicipalorganisation.Un-liketheprefectsofprovincialFrance,theIndianAdministra-tiveServicehasneverfosteredinstitutionsofurbandemoc-

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