- The world’s population in early times and now.
- Foodstuffs are shared with other living creatures.
- How many people can the world support?
- Should there be birth control?
If we go back far enough, let us say before the Christian era, we find that there was no exact count taken of the people of a country. Yet it seems likely that when Joseph brought his wife into Bethlehem, where Jesus Christ was born, one object of his summons there was a kind of census, a counting of heads. Early in the century, it was estimated that the population of human beings in the world was fifty times as much as that in the early days of history. The increase steadily goes on. In Pakistan, since the institution of an independent republic, the increase in numbers is steady and alarming. Where will it end?
In early times, there was no need for anxiety. There were great areas of the world with food-producing possibilities which had not been opened out. As the population of the British Isles increased, the surplus population was able to go and form settlements in America, Australia, and other places where open spaces were available to cultivate. The possibilities in this direction have now been exhausted. There are no more unexplored territories available for emigration and in some of those where their castless westerners have taken possession, the aboriginal inhabitants are beginning to assert themselves and claim the rights of proprietors. Whatever remedy there may be for the increasing population in Pakistan, it is not likely to be by emigration to other places. The day for that is past.
This steady growth of numbers has a bad effect on national planning. The Government announces a “Five Year Plan,” with expenditure of crores of rupees as many as the stars in the sky. At the end of that five years, there is no apparent improvement. Had the planning failed and has the money been spent in vain? Not so, because there are about a hundred millions more people in the country as compared with the time when the planning started. So the increase of wealth and productions, instead of raising the level for the mass of the people, has to be shared out among those extra millions.
There are obvious remedies. More land must be brought under cultivation, and sometimes land which seemed barren and unprofitable must be reclaimed and reconditioned. There must be better agriculture and scientific methods. The yield of crops to the acre, the yield of milk per cow, is lower in Indo-Pak subcontinent than in most countries. The scientists will deal with this, and indeed are doing so. The extra millions must have food clothing, houses to live in, and education. This drives us to the question, ‘Should any steps be taken to control the number of births, to restrict them by law or by propaganda?” This raises a very difficult problem. The poorer classes multiply with great rapidity, for they are unthinking and incapable of family planning. In America, where there is a similar problem, the Roman Catholic section of the people resent bitterly any proposal to teach methods of birth control, regarding all such as sinful. In olden days, nature had her own steps, when epidemics of disease would sweep across a country removing millions. Now we have advanced medical services showing how to prevent and how to cure disease, and how to prolong life to a stage never contemplated a century ago. All this increases the numbers, and has left us to face with this problem of over-population. The first and foremost measure must be education, for the only true birth control must come from the teaching of moderation in human life.
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