My Camera And My Chai. The Billions. Part 2

My Camera And My Chai
My Camera And My Chai







This is a bit off an odd way to start, with a graph and my beloved camera sharing centre stage at the top of the post. However, the graph is a significant one.

We are at 7 billion people today, and we expect that the world’s population will reach 14 billion by the turn of the century.

Now, look at the graph carefully. For the first 1800 years, the world population was somewhat stable. Then, it started to grow, and grow. We started to reproduce like the proverbial rabbit.

The population of India and China combined, today, is two times the global population in the 1800’s.

Now, go back to Bill Bryson, and his comment on the privileged fractions. You may notice from my comment, that the rabbits seem to live almost exclusively in the so called third world countries. I believe that this term is no longer politically acceptable, and I agree, but let’s use it.

The Western countries, as per some people, are no longer growing population wise. Yet, this is where the wealth creation has been the greatest, and this is where carbon emissions have been high.

And so, the chaps in many of these first world countries are suddenly obsessed with sustainability, and rightfully so. So, there is thrust towards second generation biofuels, recyclable materials and all that stuff.

Digitization is more green, they say. True? I used my first film camera for 20 years.  I bought two digital cameras in two years, and then cried ‘halt”. It is now 8 years since I bought one, and now I feel the need to upgrade. After 8 years. What has happened to the other cameras? Landfills?

Air travel has increased.

Marketers, and CEOs say – sell more! Consumers, buy more. Buy us, because we are green. But, buy.

The fact is, with a growing population, we will strain the resources of the earth.

A fellow Indian from Hong Kong told me that the internet is to blame for the current problems with respect to sustainability. As our awareness grows, so does our desire for goods and services. Yet, without the internet, I would not have been able to communicate with so many people across the globe! You see the dilemma?

CEOs say that the growth will now come from India. From China. 2.5 billion people waiting to lap usp goods and services. And, we wants them. Oh yes, we wants them goods and services. We does, my Precioussss!!!

The goods and services, like Sauron’s Ring, enslave more than they liberate.

But, can you deny 2.5 billion (more, if you include all of Asia and Africa) the right to demand high quality goods and services? You cannot.

And, this is where the dilemma lies.

Financial Institutions demand that corporations make more money every quarter. There is pressure, despite all the talk on sustainability.

An Aussie chap I met in Beijing 8 years back had given up his car. He maintained one bank account. One credit card. He told me that these things had become his masters, and now he felt lighter.


The question: will we create a circle, and return to a simpler lifestyle? Or, are we on an repeating loop, to create a lifeless world as envisaged by so many science fiction writers?



  1. If the human race (and, possibly, the entire planet) is to survive, the population trend has to be reversed. We need to reduce the human population, not just slow down the increase. China was vilified for its one-child policy, so no, I don’t think humans are ready to quit multiplying like rabbits. I think it will take a devastating global epidemic or possibly worldwide infertility and/or extreme infant mortality caused by environmental poisoning.

  2. My understanding from a college course in “Social Change” I completed many years ago, is that the world’s population growth is expected to stabilize in the next century. Also, the explosive growth in population that began during the 19th century is due to better health care and lower infant mortality. The reduced growth in population in 1st world countries is due to retirement programs spawned by the industrial revolution. We no longer need children to support us in old age, due to retirement programs such as Social Security, so we choose to have less children. When these retirement programs improve in 3rd world countries, these populations are expected to slow down significantly in growth, because people will not be motivated to have so many children.

  3. I’m glad there are other people in other corners of the globe who have a care for these issues. I’ve often lamented that in the USA, we are breeding a throw away society. It saddens me that the majority of Americans wouldn’t know how to manage if they suddenly found themselves without all the ease our society happily churns out, if you can stomach the physical and psychological cost. It’s really a greater tragedy than many realize.

      1. I agree in that there is good to be learned in every corner of our planet. It seems it’s much easier to learn and practice the bad habits than the good ones.

    1. Thanks. I took that when I was in a town called Rishikesh. It is the town where the Ganges River reaches the plains from the mountains. I sat under a tree, sipping chai, and trying to look at life from a new perspective..

  4. Had to shake my head about this…as I was thinking back to the day when the population was around 6 billion…what a change even in my life time. I remember being awed by Adam Smith and his Wealth of Nations, leaves me wondering what is in store for us all. Great post, writing.

  5. Leaving University, the question you raise here is something that haunted me … back then, some of this concern was encapsulated by Dr. Ravi Batra in his book, ‘The Great Depression of 1990.’ And, we move forward with the question of ‘how’ lurking in our shadow.

    1. Yes, we do. The Great Depression did not take place in 1990. I wonder when it will take place. But, despite the increasing population, the economy is not growing. Something to do with the way we manage the world?

      1. It’s first world – third world stasis, something we encountered vividly with students taking them to Guatemala last February … it did some good waking students up to disparities and to have them consider solutions.

  6. I guess I must really like this subject your brought up Rajiv, because I want to make one more comment: It seems to me that having a high population of humans is not the biggest cause of starvation or scarce resources. Humans can be very resourceful when they put their heads together and work problems out harmoniously. The biggest cause of scarce resources seems to be political. Political conflict and wars deprive people of food in many places on our planet. The difficulty people have in negotiating solutions that meet everyone’s needs is the biggest threat to worldwide well-being that we face. Perhaps having a large world population gives us a greater challenge to find harmonious solutions, with greater potential for spiritual growth–if we are only able to meet the challenge.

    1. Well, you have a point there. While I do think that a burgeoning population will place increasing stress on the earth’s resources, yes we can and should be ingenious in solving the problems. In India, we produce enough grain to feed the population. Yet, 30% of our grain rots every year, and we have one third of the world’s poor

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