Tuesday, July 27, 2010

South Asia's Declining Resources, Rising Consumption

India is ranked 33rd and Pakistan 39th among the most overcrowded nations of the world by Overpopulation Index published by the Optimum Population Trust based in the United Kingdom. The index measures overcrowding based on the size of the population and the resources available to sustain it.

India has a dependency percentage of 51.6 per cent on other nations and an ecological footprint of 0.77. The index calculates that India is overpopulated by 594.32 million people. Pakistan has a dependency percentage of 49.9 per cent on other nations and an ecological footprint of 0.75. The index calculates that Pakistan is overpopulated by 80 million people. Pakistan is less crowded than China (ranked 29), India (ranked 33) and the US (ranked 35), according to the index. Singapore is the most overcrowded and Bukina Faso the least on a list of 77 nations assessed by the Optimum Population Trust.

The index examined data available from over 130 nations and found that 77 of them are overpopulated, including India, Pakistan and China. That means that these nations are consuming more resources than they are producing and are dependent on other countries, and the earth, to compensate for that.

"Dependency and self-sufficiency ratings are based on ratio of footprint to bio-capacity, showing the percentage of footprint not supported from bio-capacity. Sustainable population shows number that can be supported from bio-capacity at current

Concurring with the British report is another similar report prepared by the California-based Global Footprint Network (GFN) in 2008. With a per person footprint of 0.80 global hectares (0.60 for Pakistan) and per person bio-capacity deficit of 0.40 global hectares (0.3 for Pakistan), India is running an ecological deficit of 100 percent. The ecological footprint measures human demand on the biosphere in terms of the land and sea area required to provide the resources we use and to absorb the waste we generate. Bio-capacity refers to the capacity of a given biologically productive area to generate an on-going supply of renewable resources and to absorb its spill-over wastes.

Like per capita emission of green house gases, per capita ecological footprint of an average South Asian is much lower than the world average. The per person ecological footprint was 0.80 for an average Indian and 0.60 for average Pakistani in 2003 when the world average was 2.2 global hectare. At the same time, because of rising population South Asia's total national ecological footprint has doubled since 1961, contributing to the degradation of its natural capital. As a result, while South Asia's overall wealth as measured by GDP has risen for reasons of better exploitation of resources over the years, its per capita bio-capacity has shrunk reducing its per capita ecological footprint. More and more people are sharing a shrinking bio-capacity.

One of the key contributors to declining ecological capacity is the dwindling fresh water. After China and India, there are other relatively less populous countries with large water deficits — Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Mexico, and Pakistan. Four of these already import a large share of their grain. Only Pakistan remains self-sufficient. But with a population expanding by 4 million a year, it has begun to turn to the world market for grain.

As the need for development grows, the natural resources like forests come under threat, endangering the livelihood of the poor, especially the tribal poor in India, who sustain themselves on the forest resources. As most of the densely forested areas are rich in minerals, these have become conflict zones pitting Indian government and resource-hungry industries against the rising Maoist insurgency. What is more, these have become the reasons for conflicts between the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests and other ministries which relate to economic development. Though there is a huge and growing gap between India's haves and the have-nots, the catchy phrase “India now consumes two Indias”, therefore, sums up the Indian “resource overshoot”.

In addition to the dwindling natural resources, there is a serious threat posed by climate change in South Asia. At 8 feet below sea level, Pakistan's financial capital Karachi shows up on the list of world's mega-cities threatened by global warming. Other South Asian cities likely to come under rising sea water in the next 100 years include Mumbai, Kolkata and Dhaka.

However, it's not just the big cities in South Asia that will feel the brunt of the climate change. The rural folks in India are already seeing rising crop failures, increasing poverty and over 200,000 farmer suicides in the last ten years.

Here is how Ramachandra Guha talks about India's impending ecological disaster in his book "How Much Should A Person Consume?":

"Gandhi's arguments have been revived and elaborated by the present generation of Indian environmentalists. As explained in Chapter Two, India is in many ways an ecological disaster zone, marked by high rates of deforestation, species loss, land degradation, and air and water pollution. The consequences of this abuse of nature have been chiefly borne by the poor in the countryside-peasants, tribals, fisherfolk, and pastoralists who have seen their resources snatched away or depleted by powerful economic interests. For, over the last few decades, the men who rule India have attempted precisely to "make India like England and America." Without access to resources and markets enjoyed by those two nations when they began to industrialize, India has perforce had to rely on exploiting its own people and environment."

As Indians and Pakistanis aspire to higher standards of living enjoyed by the developed world, they will have to find ways to do so without destroying what sustains them. Instead of simply copying how the West industrialized in the 19th and the 20th centuries, the South Asians will have to do it in the 21st century in a sustainable manner by focusing on the development and use of renewable resources.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Environmental Degradation at Siachen

Climate Change Worsens Poverty in India

World's Biggest Polluters

Global Warming Impact on Pakistan

Indian Rural Poverty Worsens

Climate Change Impact on Karachi, South Asian Megacities

Water Scarcity in Pakistan

Syeda Hamida of Indian Planning Commission Says India Worse Than Pakistan and Bangladesh

Global Hunger Index Report 2009

Grinding Poverty in Resurgent India

Food, Clothing and Shelter For All

India's Family Health Survey

Hunger and Undernutrition Blog

Pakistan's Total Sanitation Campaign

Is India a Nutritional Weakling?

Asian Gains in World's Top Universities

India's Vulnerability to Climate Change

South Asia Slipping in Human Development

What Does Democracy Deliver in Pakistan

Do South Asian Slums Offer Hope?


gunam said...

India has been pushing the pouplation control measure in a big manner. The same has not been sucessful in the lower segment of the society and in the abrahmic religion which aspire to become majority by population growth.

Demonstrative effect of the develop world is obviusly pushing everybody into the rat race. further the consumpiton is the driver of economy at this point of time. I have seen before my eyes that ac used to be only in cinema theatres and very rich people. Today it is available across all middle class homes. So if we curtail the consumption, it will in turn curtail the growth.

Populaiton control and reaching the leve where the net population growth is slightly positive is good for the country and for the world.

anoop said...

Hey check this out.


Decrease in population can be attributed to rise in urbanization and success of economic measures and population control measures. Since, South of India is more economically forward than the rest of the country this makes sense. North India will follow suit followed by Central.

Right now the emphasis should be to ensure population control measures are evaluated and innovative ways are found to educate the public.

I also read a report that population growth has declined in poorer states of India like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan,etc. That is certainly good news. But, lot more to be done.

Mayraj said...

And poor management of resources. The South Asians I have no faith in. SE Asians more likely to make changes.

Pavan said...

Thanks Riaz. Very interesting data. I could not understand how the US
is ranked 35th since the population density is quite low. Regards.

Riaz Haq said...

Pavan: "I could not understand how the US is ranked 35th since the population density is quite low. "

The US is ranked 35th because of its highest per capita consumption of almost every natural resource in the world.

To put it in perspective, the world average per capita energy use is about 65 million BTUs and the average American consumes 352 million BTUs.

Per capita energy consumption in Pakistan is estimated at 14.2 million Btu, which is much higher than Bangladesh's 5 million BTUs per capita but slightly less than India's 15.9 million BTU per capita energy consumption. South Asia's per capita energy consumption is only a fraction of other industrializing economies in Asia region such as China (56.2 million BTU), Thailand (58 million BTU) and Malaysia (104 million BTU), according to the US Dept of Energy 2006 report.

Riaz Haq said...

Can Indian govt data be trusted? Here's a Seekingalpha post raising doubts about India's GDP figures:

Yesterday, we had written about the controversy over GDP numbers. What has happened since is even more bizarre. Now the government has issue new numbers. All within some 24 hours. The government has revised consumption numbers quite dramatically, claiming the earlier low numbers were simply a result of a calculation error.

The size of revision is dramatic. The consumption size GDP growth estimate is now 10%, compared to 3.7% earlier. Pvt consumption growth is now 3.7% compared to 0.3%, while the government expenditure growth is now 14.2% compared to -0.6% earlier.

Contrary to making us feel better about government data, this makes us feel even more uncomfortable. Yesterday, we had believed the explanation behind the low consumption numbers were systemically less efficient calculation methods. We understand quarterly data on GDP has started coming out only in the last 1-2 years, so we thought, the government still has to get its act right on the number collection mechanism.

So our point was: just ignore these consumption numbers, focus on the supply side numbers, where the data is being collected for several years, so more reliable.

Do we feel better now, given that the government claims it was an error and not systemic issues? No. Our point is this: how do we know the current numbers are not simply something pulled out of a hat?

That is what it seems to us. Reacting to the front page story in The Economic Times, it appears to us, that the finance ministry may have simply directed someone at the CSO to come out with palatable numbers forthwith.

We have for long said Indian WPI numbers are incorrect. The Wisdomsmith guage for WPI shows far different numbers (and much higher) to official numbers.

Indian government needs to get some more method into its statistics. Since the last 12 months, official data is becoming increasingly suspect.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece on India's energy and food crises:

The sound of trumpets–or was it sirens–was heard from Delhi this week as India’s Premier got loud about his country’s future energy needs. It’s not often we are treated to such transparency. In contrast, China tried to spin its own future call on global energy through the framework of limits this week when it declared it would hold coal consumption to 4.0-4.2 Mt (million tons) by 2015. Clearly, China’s coal consumption juggernaut wants to downplay the fact that these are coal use levels 25 percent to 30 percent higher than today.

In India, meanwhile, they are willing to put some big raw numbers on the situation:

Premier Manmohan Singh told India’s energy firms on Monday to scour the globe for fuel supplies as he warned the country’s demand for fossil fuels was set to soar 40 percent over the next decade. The country of more than 1.1 billion people already imports nearly 80 percent of its crude oil to fuel an economy that is expected to grow 8.5 percent this year and at least nine percent next year. Demand for hydrocarbons — petroleum, coal, natural gas — “over the next 10 years will increase by over 40 percent,” Singh told an energy conference in New Delhi.

Question: Is it energy that India needs? Or is it food? This is, of course, roughly the same question. As we look at the chart below, showing the decline of arable land in India from 1961 – 2007, let’s consider that India’s population rose from 444 million to 1.124 billion in the same time period.

Arable land in India has been cut in half over the past 45 years, declining from 0.35 hectares per person to the current 0.14 hectares per person. Cornucopians will protest. They’ll say global productivity of agriculture has soared over the past 50 years, and they would be correct in making such a claim. But the question is: how was that advance actually achieved?

Primarily through fossil fuels, of course. Which gets us back to Premier Singh’s clarion call. With its population having nearly tripled in 50 years, and its arable land cut in half, India is going to have to become much more productive on its remaining land. To do so, it will need to significantly increase its use of fertilizer that either comes straight from the ground, like Potash, or through manufacturing–which requires natural gas. This does not even address India’s growing water problem.

Or, that like many other Asian and Middle Eastern countries, India too has gone abroad in search of farmland. | see: FarmLandGrab.org for both a running tally and newsflow on this global mega-trend

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts from a NY Times story on lagging agriculture in India:

BAMNOD, India — The 50-year-old farmer knew from experience that his onion crop was doomed when torrential rains pounded his fields throughout September, a month when the Indian monsoon normally peters out.
Mr. Talele’s misfortune, and that of many other farmers here, is a grim reminder of a persistent fact: India, despite its ambitions as an emerging economic giant, still struggles to feed its 1.1 billion people.

Four decades after the Green Revolution seemed to be solving India’s food problems, nearly half of Indian children age 5 or younger are malnourished. And soaring food prices, a problem around the world, are especially acute in India.
Critics say Indian policy makers have failed to follow up on the country’s investments in agricultural technology of the 1960s and ’70s, as they focused on more glamorous, urban industries like information technology, financial services and construction.
Food inflation hits especially hard here because Indians — most of whom live on less than $2 a day — spend a bigger portion of their disposable incomes on food than people in other big, developing economies like China and Brazil.

“This is the worst form of taxation on the poorest of the poor,” said Ashok Gulati, Asia director for the International Food Policy Research Institute.
But experts say the widening gap between agriculture’s anemic supply and the rising demand for food calls for fundamental changes in farming policies.

During the Green Revolution the government invested heavily in rural agriculture, with an emphasis on hybrid seeds, fertilizers and irrigation canals.

And rural India has far too few temperature-controlled warehouses that could help farmers and the nation build up reserves as a hedge against poor growing seasons.

When Mr. Talele’s vegetables are ready for harvest he immediately takes them to wholesale markets, which are controlled by committees of local traders. “Whatever the market decides, that’s the price we get,” he said.

Indian officials acknowledge that the country needs to increase investment in irrigation, encourage competition in wholesale and retail markets, and provide targeted food subsidies to the poor. And they also have to provide more education and jobs to villagers, so fewer people are forced to live off the land.

Experts say India needs to make changes like some of the ones China made, beginning in the late 1970s, when it started investing heavily in agriculture and eased regulations on farming.


Riaz Haq said...

Chandran Nair argues in his book "Consumptionomics" that the Asians need to rethink the whole idea of western-style consumer-driven capitalism to ensure a better, more sustainable future for their massive population.

Here are some excepts from Financial Times review of the book "Consumptionomics: Asia’s Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet":

, -- Life might not be as much fun in his world as it is for the lucky ones who become wealthy under liberal capitalism. “Golf and car racing might be out but badminton and social dancing are more popular,” he suggests in his vision of leisure time in a Nairian society. But the benefits of development would be spread more widely, damage to the earth’s resources would be controlled and people would probably spend less time working.

Nair’s starting point is that the world simply cannot survive the consequences of the growth of highly populous Asian economies to levels of development reached by industrialised countries if that is to be achieved on the same resource-guzzling terms as western development.
Throughout the book, Nair evinces an angry disdain for western-style capitalism, which he regards as setting the world on a path to destruction by its devotion to the ideology of markets and its voracious appetite for finite resources. He’s none too complimentary either about its media cheerleaders, including this newspaper.

“The biggest lie of all is that consumption-driven capitalism can deliver wealth to all,” he writes. “In Asia it can only deliver short-term wealth to a minority; in the long term, it can only deliver misery to all. This is the intellectual dishonesty at the heart of the model the west has peddled to Asia.”

Nair points to the familiar issue of energy use, saying that if Asia’s population was to use as much energy per person as Europeans do today (relatively modest compared to Americans), then it would use eight to nine times as much energy as the US currently consumes. Perhaps more startling is an estimate he uses for poultry consumption. Americans will eat 9bn birds this year, apparently. If by 2050 Asians ate the same amount per person, they would swallow more than 120bn. That’s a lot of battery chickens.

Nor is Nair impressed by arguments that technology will ultimately solve issues such as energy shortages and climate change, allowing economic growth and consumption to go on expanding. He dismisses the notion that Asia should concentrate on growth and then, when it is rich, clean up afterwards. What he demands is a radical change in the prevailing global economic model and its governance.
But the shape of a Nairian Asia does emerge. It would be made up of strong nation-state governments willing to take unilateral action on issues such as controlling natural resource exploitation and domestic agriculture and industry. Governments would get bigger and spend more with an emphasis on sustainable infrastructure such as public transport. Carbon, natural resources and financial transactions would be taxed – possibly allowing for a reduction or elimination of payroll taxes. Agriculture would be deindustrialised, with a drive to return to labour-intensive farming to ensure sufficient output and stop mass migration to cities.

What would life be like for the individual? They would be expected to forgo owning a car, would pay high prices for meat and restaurant portions would be restricted. But income differentials would be minimised and access to the benefits of technology widely shared.

He doesn’t say it but Nair is describing a kind of Asian Norway, with the benefits of natural resources controlled and socialised to a high degree, rural communities subsidised to keep people on the land, fisheries protected, a high commitment to energy efficiency and high taxation to support high levels of social welfare.

Riaz Haq said...

Humanity would need five Earths to produce the resources needed if everyone lived as profligately as Americans, according to a report, says Times of India:

As it is, humanity each year uses resources equivalent to nearly one-and-a-half Earths to meet its needs, said the report by Global Footprint Network, an international think tank.

"We are demanding nature's services — using resources and creating CO² emissions — at a rate 44% faster than what nature can regenerate and reabsorb," the document said. "That means it takes the Earth just under 18 months to produce the ecological services humanity needs in one year," it said.

And if humankind continues to use natural resources and produce waste at the current rate, "we will require the resources of two planets to meet our demands by the early 2030s," a gluttonous level of ecological spending that may cause major ecosystem collapse.

Global Footprint Network calculated the ecological footprint — the amount of land and sea needed to produce the resources a population consumes and absorb its CO² emissions — of more than 100 countries and of the entire globe.
Back in 1961, the entire planet used just over slightly more than half of Earth's biocapacity. Today, 80% of countries use more biocapacity than is available within their borders.

The average American has an ecological footprint of 23 acres, or the equivalent of 17 US football fields. At the other end of the scale are impoverished countries like Malawi, Nepal or Bangladesh, where the footprints are 1.25 acres — often not enough to provide for basic food and shelter.

Riaz Haq said...

The fundamental problems in South Asia are very different from problems in the West.

Solution to South Asian problems can not be found by aping the West...and original thinking is required to find such solutions.

Take individual liberties and rights for example.

The biggest beneficiaries of such rights are those few who have the power to enforce such rights for themselves through the use of the courts and the state apparatus, usually at the expense of the society at large. This situation leads to growing inequalities, and greater poverty for the majority.

Similarly, the western style capitalist economy encourages unrestrained growth in consumption...something that Asian nations with their massive populations and rapidly depleting natural resources can simply not afford.

No amount of cheap widget manufacturing, computer code writing and low-cost BPO services can solve these problems.

There is an estimate that it would take five times the resources of the planet earth for the rest the world to live as Americans do today.

What we need is to acknowledge that the developing world can not achieve the same standards of living as the OECD nations have without catastrophic destruction of the planet.

So what is the alternative? How do the Asians and the Africans achieve reasonable standards of living without destroying the planet? What political and economic system is needed to ensure equitable sharing of rapidly depleting resources of the earth?

These are the kinds of questions that need to be explored and answered by Asian intellectuals now.

Riaz Haq said...

Rising crop prices in the US are helping economic recovery in the farm belt and lifting the value of farmland in the Midwest, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Farmland values in much of the Midwest are climbing at their fastest rates since the 2008 boom, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City said Tuesday.

Fueled by rising crop prices, the value of irrigated and nonirrigated cropland across the region known as the 10th District jumped 14.8% and 12.9%, respectively, in the fourth quarter, compared with a year earlier.

The bank's quarterly survey of the region, which covers western Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado and northern New Mexico, found that farmland prices rose for the fifth consecutive quarter since a drop in the third quarter of 2009, when the livestock sector was contracting amid the recession.

The Federal Reserve's regional banks closely track farm real-estate prices because they are a key indicator of the health of U.S. farming, which uses about half of the nation's land. Land is farming's largest asset and source of collateral, which means any increase in value lifts farmers' borrowing power.

The Federal Reserve Banks in Chicago and Minneapolis have yet to issue their quarterly surveys, but their reports are also expected to show that the farm belt is continuing to rebound from the recession more quickly than the general economy, which has been hobbled by high unemployment rates and weak home values.

Farmland prices in the 10th District are generating their biggest gains since the third quarter of 2008, when prices of irrigated farmland jumped 23.4% and prices of nonirrigated farmland rose 21.2%.

Still, it's not clear how long farmland prices can continue to climb so sharply. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has already said it's watching for whether an asset bubble is building. One red flag in Tuesday's report is that cash rental rates for cropland across the 10th District rose only about 6% in the fourth quarter, far too little to justify such a big increase in land prices.

As a result, some farm bankers across the region are beginning to tighten their standards on real estate loans.

"Bankers in the survey were starting to raise questions about the sustainability of farmland values" and "paying closer attention to their loan-to-value ratios," said Brian Briggeman, an economist at the Omaha branch of the Kansas City Fed.

Farmland prices are heavily influenced by crop prices, which were climbing until the financial crisis and recession popped the commodity-price bubble in late 2008. Led by wheat, U.S. crop prices resumed their upward climb in June 2010 amid harvest problems in places such as Russia, and then the U.S. corn belt, as demand was recovering in the world's emerging economies.

The prices of corn and wheat grown in the Midwest are about double what they were a year ago, while cotton prices are up 155%. Soybean prices have climbed 50%. Those high commodity prices are giving farmers more money to spend on land, as well as attracting the interest of outside investors looking for an inflation hedge at a time when the cost of borrowing money for buying real estate is low.

The U.S. Agriculture Department said Monday that it expects net farm income, a widely followed barometer of the U.S. agriculture sector's profitability, to climb 19.8% this year to $94.7 billion, which would be the second-highest inflation-adjusted figure for net farm income in 35 years.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a BBC report on India Census 2011:

India's population has grown by 181 million people over the past decade to 1.21bn, according to the 2011 census.

More people now live in India than in the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan and Bangladesh combined.

India is on course to overtake China as the world's most populous nation by 2030, but its growth rate is falling, figures show. China has 1.3bn people.

The census also reveals a continuing preference for boys - India's sex ratio is at its worst since independence.

Female foeticide remains common in India, although sex-selective abortion based on ultrasound scans is illegal. Sons are still seen by many as wage-earners for the future.

Statistics show fewer girls than boys are being born or surviving. The gender imbalance has widened every decade since independence in 1947.

According to the 2011 census, 914 girls were born for every 1,000 boys under the age of six, compared with 927 for every 1,000 boys in the 2001 census.

"This is a matter of grave concern," Census Commissioner C Chandramauli told a press conference in the capital, Delhi.

Government officials said they would review all their policies towards this issue, which they admitted were failing.

Indians now make up 17% of the world's population. Uttar Pradesh remains its most populous state, with 199 million people.

The statistics show India's massive population growing at a significant rate - 181 million is roughly equivalent to the entire population of Brazil.

But the rate of that growth is slower than at any time since 1947. The 2011 census charts a population increase of 17.6%, compared with one of 21.5% over the previous decade.

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Delhi says the slowing growth rate suggests that efforts to promote birth control and female education are working.

In the field of education there was good news, with the census showing the literacy rate going up to 74% from about 65% in the last count.

India launched the 2011 census last year. The exercise costs in the region of 22bn rupees ($490m; £300m).

Some 2.7 million officials visited households in about 7,000 towns and 600,000 villages, classifying the population according to gender, religion, education and occupation.

The exercise, conducted every 10 years, faces big challenges, not least India's vast area and diversity of cultures.

Census officials also have to contend with high levels of illiteracy and millions of homeless people - as well as insurgencies by Maoists and other rebels which have left large parts of the country unsafe.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Soutik Biswas of the BBC on India Census 2011:

The good news is that at 17.64%, the rate of growth between 2001-2011 represents the sharpest decline over a decade since Independence. The growth rate was at its lowest between 1941-1951 when it was 13.3%: that was a time of famine, religious killings, and the transfer of populations in the run-up to partition. The growth rate was more than 24% between 1961 and 1981. So a 17.64% growth rate points to a slowing down that will cheer those who are concerned about how India will bear the burden of its massive population.

The bad news for those with such concerns is that India still has more than a billion people, and this number is rising. Indian politicians and policy planners speak eloquently about how this population will fetch demographic dividends, and ensure India's growth story.

But such optimism can be unfounded if the state is found wanting in the way that it is. It is very easy, warn social scientists, for this demographic dividend to turn into a deficit with millions of uneducated, unskilled and unemployed young people on the streets, angry and a threat to peace and social stability. "There is nothing to brag about our population growing and crossing China. Do we know how we are going to skill all these people?" That is the question of India's top demographer, Ashish Bose.

The government would like to say that the dip in population growth has to do with pushing a successful contraception programme in the country. But social scientists say that with rising urbanisation, it is no surprise that population growth is on the decline. Increasing urbanisation leads to nuclear families in small homes paying high rents in increasingly expensive cities. Having more children does not help matters.

The biggest shock in this census is the decline in the child gender ratio at 914 girls (up to six years) for every 1000 boys. This is the lowest since Independence and it looks like a precipitous drop from a high of 976 girls in the 1961 census.

Social scientists and demographers believe that the decline in the number of girls all over the country - in 27 states and union territories - points to deeply entrenched social attitudes towards women, despite economic liberalisation and increasing work opportunities.

They link sex determination tests and female foeticide - banned in India, but still quite widespread due to lax enforcement - to the rising costs of dowry, a practice which even the burgeoning middle classes have been unable to get rid of. "Marriages have become costlier, dowries have been pricier, so there is a lot of social resistance to having girl children in the family," says Mr Bose.

Pavan said...

Interesting. The highest number of births are taking place in the
lowest quintile of the population primarily because infant mortality
is very high. In other words we are adding more to the poor.
Interestingly, the overall sex ratio has increased from 933 to 940 per
thousand malesinspite of the fact that lesser girls are being born. I
had studied this earlier. This is on account of the large number of
adult males dying early on account of substance abuse (1.2 million),
road accidents (over 100,000), insurgencies, cardio-vascular disease
etc. Pavan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Newsweek piece by Nial Ferguson titled "Men Without Women":

In 1927, Ernest Hemingway published a collection of short stories titled Men Without Women. Today, less than a century later, it sums up the predicament of a rising proportion of mankind.

According to the United Nations, there are far more men than women on the planet. The gender gap is especially pronounced in Asia, where there are 100 million more guys than girls. This may come as a surprise to people in the Western world, where women outnumber men because—other things being equal—the mortality rate for women is lower than for men in all age groups. Nobel Prize–winning economist Amartya Sen calls it the mystery of Asia’s “missing women.”

The mystery is partly explicable in terms of economics. In many Asian societies, girls are less well looked after than boys because they are economically undervalued. The kind of domestic work they typically do is seen as less important than paid work done by men. And, of course, early marriage and minimal birth control together expose them to the risks of multiple pregnancies.

When Sen first added up the missing women—women who would exist today if it were not for selective abortion, infanticide, and economic discrimination—he put the number at 100 million. It is surely higher now. For, even as living standards in Asian countries have soared, the gender gap has widened. That’s because a cultural preference for sons over daughters leads to selective abortion of female fetuses, a practice made possible by ultrasound scanning, and engaged in despite legal prohibitions. The American feminist Mary Anne Warren called it “gendercide.” Notoriously common in northwestern India, it’s also rampant in the world’s most populous country: China.


The question left open by economists is what the consequences will be of such a large surplus of young men. History offers a disquieting answer. According to the German scholar Gunnar Heinsohn, European imperial expansion after 1500 was the result of a male “youth bulge.” Japan’s imperial expansion after 1914 was the result of a similar youth bulge, Heinsohn argues. During the Cold War, it was youth-bulge countries—Algeria, El Salvador, and Lebanon—that saw the worst civil wars and revolutions. Heinsohn has also linked the recent rise of Islamist extremism in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan to an Islamic youth bulge. Political scientists Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer warn that China and India could be the next countries to overdose on testosterone.

That has scary implications. Remember, most of Hemingway’s stories in Men Without Women are about violence. They feature gangsters, bullfighters, and wounded soldiers. The most famous story is called simply “The Killers.”

It may be that the coming generation of Asian men without women will find harmless outlets for their inevitable frustrations, like team sports or videogames. But I doubt it. Either this bachelor generation will be a source of domestic instability, whether Brazilian-style crime or Arab-style revolution—or, as happened in Europe, they and their testosterone will be exported. There’s already enough shrill nationalism in Asia as it is. Don’t be surprised if, in the next generation, it takes the form of macho militarism and even imperialism. Lock up your daughters.

Riaz Haq said...

The latest UN population projection is for the world population of close to 7 billion to reach 10.1 billion in the next ninety years and 9.3 billion by the middle of this century.

By 2065, India's population will peak at 1.7 billion (from 1.224 in 2010), and Pakistan's at 285 million (from 173 million in 2010) in the same year, and then start declining.

China will peak at 1.395 billion by 2025, and then it will decline.

Countries as varied as China, Brazil, the Russian Federation, Japan, Viet Nam, Germany, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Thailand and France, in order of population size, account for 75 per cent of the population living in low-fertility countries. Three-quarters of the population living in the intermediate-fertility countries is located in India, the United States of America, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Mexico and Egypt, in order of population size; and Pakistan, Nigeria, the Philippines, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Republic of Tanzania, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ghana, Yemen, Mozambique and Madagascar, in order of population size, account for 75 per cent of the population of high-fertility countries.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's the intro to an interview of Smita Narula, faculty director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University Law School, co-author of the report, "Every Thirty Minutes: Farmer Suicides, Human Rights and the Agrarian Crisis in India" as published by Democracy Now on Indian farmers plight:

A quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide in the last 16 years—an average of one suicide every 30 minutes. The crisis has ballooned with economic liberalization that has removed agricultural subsidies and opened Indian agriculture to the global market. Small farmers are often trapped in a cycle of insurmountable debt, leading many to take their lives out of sheer desperation. We speak with Smita Narula of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University Law School, co-author of a new report on farmer suicides in India.
SMITA NARULA: Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about this report that you are just releasing today.

SMITA NARULA: Our major finding for this report is that all the issues that you just described are major human rights issues. And what we’re faced with in India is a human rights crisis of epic proportions. The crisis affects the human rights of Indian farmers and their family members in extremely profound ways. We found that their rights to life, to water, food and adequate standard of living, and their right to an effective remedy, is extremely affected by this crisis. Additionally, the government has hard human rights legal obligations to respond to the crisis, but we’ve found that it has failed, by and large, to take any effective measures to address the suicides that are taking place.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this number is unbelievable. Thirty—every 30 minutes, an Indian farmer commits suicide?

SMITA NARULA: And that’s been going on for years and years. And what these intense numbers don’t reveal are two things. One is that the numbers themselves are failing to capture the enormity of the problem. In what we call a failure of information on the part of the Indian government, entire categories of farmers are completely left out of the purview of farm suicide statistics, because they don’t formally own title to land. This includes women farmers, Dalit, or so-called lower caste farmers, as well as Adivasi, or tribal community farmers. In addition, the government’s programs and the relief programs that they’ve offered fail to capture not only this broad category, but also fail to provide timely debt relief and compensation or address broader structural issues that are leading to these suicides in the country....



Riaz Haq said...

Here's Tom Friedman of NY Times on sustainable earth:

(Paul) Gilding cites the work of the Global Footprint Network, an alliance of scientists, which calculates how many “planet Earths” we need to sustain our current growth rates. G.F.N. measures how much land and water area we need to produce the resources we consume and absorb our waste, using prevailing technology. On the whole, says G.F.N., we are currently growing at a rate that is using up the Earth’s resources far faster than they can be sustainably replenished, so we are eating into the future. Right now, global growth is using about 1.5 Earths. “Having only one planet makes this a rather significant problem,” says Gilding.

This is not science fiction. This is what happens when our system of growth and the system of nature hit the wall at once. While in Yemen last year, I saw a tanker truck delivering water in the capital, Sana. Why? Because Sana could be the first big city in the world to run out of water, within a decade. That is what happens when one generation in one country lives at 150 percent of sustainable capacity.

“If you cut down more trees than you grow, you run out of trees,” writes Gilding. “If you put additional nitrogen into a water system, you change the type and quantity of life that water can support. If you thicken the Earth’s CO2 blanket, the Earth gets warmer. If you do all these and many more things at once, you change the way the whole system of planet Earth behaves, with social, economic, and life support impacts. This is not speculation; this is high school science.”

It is also current affairs. “In China’s thousands of years of civilization, the conflict between humankind and nature has never been as serious as it is today,” China’s environment minister, Zhou Shengxian, said recently. “The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the worsening ecological environment have become bottlenecks and grave impediments to the nation’s economic and social development.” What China’s minister is telling us, says Gilding, is that “the Earth is full. We are now using so many resources and putting out so much waste into the Earth that we have reached some kind of limit, given current technologies. The economy is going to have to get smaller in terms of physical impact.”
But Gilding is actually an eco-optimist. As the impact of the imminent Great Disruption hits us, he says, “our response will be proportionally dramatic, mobilizing as we do in war. We will change at a scale and speed we can barely imagine today, completely transforming our economy, including our energy and transport industries, in just a few short decades.”

We will realize, he predicts, that the consumer-driven growth model is broken and we have to move to a more happiness-driven growth model, based on people working less and owning less. “How many people,” Gilding asks, “lie on their death bed and say, ‘I wish I had worked harder or built more shareholder value,’ and how many say, ‘I wish I had gone to more ballgames, read more books to my kids, taken more walks?’ To do that, you need a growth model based on giving people more time to enjoy life, but with less stuff.”

Sounds utopian? Gilding insists he is a realist.

“We are heading for a crisis-driven choice,” he says. “We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we’re not stupid.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Prof Anatol Lieven, the author of Pakistan-A Hard Country, explaining water crisis in an interview with Harper's magazine:

In many other parts of the world, alternate floods and droughts are not incompatible. The answer relates to both the extremes of the local climate (which climate change is likely to make much worse), and local society’s ability to harness or limit the effects of such natural phenomena. In the case of Pakistan, however, the biggest long-term threat seems likely to be drought. The World Bank in 2004 produced a study of the prospects for Pakistan’s water resources in the coming decades that is profoundly worrying, especially given a population which (unless the birthrate can be brought down much more steeply than hitherto) may well reach 335 million by the middle of this century. In principle, Pakistan can cope with it, because if infrastructure and water use are improved, there will be enough water to go around. But this will require profound changes in Pakistan’s state and society, and to put it mildly it is not clear if the country is capable of such positive change. And by the way, the World Bank’s frightening predictions hold true even without factoring in the unknown impacts of climate change.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report on Pakistan's Census 2011 currently underway:

The Statistics Division has requested some 0.2 million Pakistan Army officials to assist in providing security to the staff conducting the census and to help in collecting data, in case they are required.

“Army personnel will only respond to distress calls of enumerators in case they face resistance in sensitive areas of the state,” Secretary Statistic Division, Asif Bajwa, said on Thursday. Addressing a press conference, Bajwa said, “The Pakistan Army, Rangers, Frontier Constabulary, Levies and other paramilitary forces have offered to support the survey teams.” He however ruled out any resistance from miscreants in volatile areas of the country especially in Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal belt. The census will cost Rs5 billion. After the 1998 census, Pakistan’s population was estimated to be 132 million while according to recent data the population has risen above 175 million. Apart from Pakistan, 73 countries have started the process.

Bajwa said that the first phase of the census, which is now underway, includes house listing. In this phase three forms will be distributed among the population and summary sheets of house materials will be compiled by 19th April. The main operation will begin on October 6 during which form 2A – a questionnaire related to demographic and social characteristics, literacy, geographical area, economic characteristics and fertility – will be circulated. The division has stated that no details will be made public till the completion of whole process.

“For the process, 146,270 enumerators – 90 per cent of which are teachers – have been appointed,” Bajwa said adding, “The final census report will be released in December.”

The staff conducting the census will be supervised by 3,626 district officers and tehsildars. Some 22,408 circle supervisors will also collect details of houses to conduct a detailed survey of urban and rural areas, Bajwa said.

He said that teams will conduct surveys in 25 divisions, 139 districts, 424 census districts, 533 tehsils, 62 towns, 1,470 urban union councils, 50,612 villages, 6,055 rural union councils, 62 towns of city districts, 174 municipal committees, 286 town committees and 43 cantonments.

Data will also be conducted in 14 tehsils of volatile Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa which include Chitral, Dir, Malakand and Kohistan. House listing in various villages of Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan will also be undertaken. Bajwa said that the flood affected population will also be included. “We will go into every tent of the IDPs to ensure their count,” he said.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a Yaleglobal paper on water shortages hindering progress in India and China:

India and China account for one third of the world’s population; each consumes more freshwater than other nations. Per inhabitant per year, though, India uses less than half what’s used in the US, China uses less than one third. This YaleGlobal series examines India and China’s water use, their expectations for rising demand and recognition that shortages will disrupt economic progress. The Planning Commission of India repeatedly warns that water will become a more serious issue than land or energy for India in years to come, points out Rohini Nilekani, in the second article of the series. India’s transition from an economy based on agriculture to a mixed one, with water use controlled by states rather than the federal constitution, already leads to conflicts. She urges planning for a low-water economy: Good governance and regulatory frameworks can prevent pollution and waste, while encouraging efficiency, reliable and fair allocation, and wise consumer choices. – YaleGlobal
BANGALORE: By July this year, the monsoon has established itself vigorously over much of the subcontinent. The anxieties of the long, intense summer months, when nations hold their collective breath in anticipation of the cooling, life-giving rain, have receded. But the region’s1.6 billion people know that next summer, the worres will return.

Water is ultimately a finite resource. With all finite resources, there is a continuous need for sustainable and equitable management, by capping demand, improving efficiencies in supply and developing substitutes. This exercise is complicated by the sociocultural beliefs, values and affinities around this precious resource.

Currently, Indian politics is dominated by controversies over natural-resource management, particularly land acquisition. Although economic liberalization is more than two decades old, there’s little clarity or consensus on the governance and regulatory frameworks for the inevitable land transfers needed for the transition from a primarily domestic and agricultural economy to a mixed and globalized one.