My Camera And My Chai – Billions

My Camera And My Chai
My Camera And My Chai


A couple of months ago, I put in a graph showing the increase in world population. We zoomed to 7 billion, from 1 billion, in 150 odd years.

India’s population, from the history that I have read, was about 400 million in the early part of the last century. We have – or seem to have – added 800 million in the last one hundred years.

Someone wrote to me, saying that as per estimates, the world’s population should stabilise at about 15 billion in the next 100 years.

As I sat under that tree, sipping my chai, by the banks of the river, my mind started to wander.

Blimey, it said!

Witness a country like India. 800 million people being added. As these people – my people – start to grow out of poverty, they will demand the goods and services that have been the privilege of people in the West.

There is a lot of discussion about, for instance, how the car market will grow. As the population grows, the number of cars increase and traffic jams increase. We have awful roads, planned with no thought to proper traffic flow, or to creating parking space. This leads to slow moving traffic, belching out pollutants, and a lot of bad temper. My prediction: the car market will eventually collapse simply because we will run out of space!

Despite the Arctic Blasts in the USA, we have seen hotter summers in India. In the town where I grew up in India, we used to have snow fall from November to March. Nowadays, we get a whisper of snow in January (in that town).

The increasing populations place increasing demands on the environment. A simple thought. Where will we accommodate these extra millions? So, property developers place increasing amounts of pressure on governments to cut down green belts to build apartments.

Cut down trees, increase the population and what do you have? More carbon dioxide and less oxygen.

In South East Asia – Singapore, for example – there is a lot of demand for sand, to reclaim the ocean so that we can build. What happens to the marine ecosystem?

As the demand for manufacturing increases, our government wants to ease land acquisition laws. Now, this will lead to a land grab and new royalties will populate the earth. The rich shall become richer, and the rest of the world will get screwed.

However, as there is more pressure to manufacture, what happens to the agricultural sector?

Please don’t forget, mobile phones, and mobile phone apps cannot be eaten. They cannot be a substitute for carrots!

Shall we colonise Mars? Let science fiction become science fact?

We humans have a problem!

Shall we ask global leaders to fly first class to some exotic location, to have a conference on sustainability?

NB:- For those who are curious about the picture, I shall tell ye a wee bit. I was at the Jama Masjid, shooting the celebrations of Bakri-Eid. (Bakri means ‘goat’). I noticed the crowds jostling each other and took the shot. I edited it using Topaz Simplify.


  1. The stats are mind boggling and the ever increasing population a real worry. Of course we have heard these time and again, but each time it comes as a shock. We have so many forums – from Global Warming to Economic, but none seem to have achieved any headway with these looming problems. I really abhor to think of India in the next 10 years, let alone 100!

  2. Thought provoking and interesting as always. Everytime I have to walk outside in Tokyo, I’m always thinking ‘this planet is too crowded.’ The irony is, the countryside is getting more and more abandoned each year, as everyone – including me – crowds to the cities for jobs. Complete loss of balance 😦

  3. I think of these things too although the issues are probably more pronounced where you are. When they build new housing developments like in the Bay Area here, they just mow down all the trees and l lay down pavement and houses one right after the other. It’s sad. They cram as many as they can in the area so the cities can get a lot of taxes and the developers can sell a lot of properties. And the ecosystem is disrupted by eliminating all the natural plants. Meanwhile, more smog is created and more traffic on the roads. When will it end?

      1. I just finished it! I am reading a lot about the Indian Mutiny of 1857 and the events that lead up to the partition of India in 1947..
        There is a link. A sad one

      2. Wow you just finished that book? What are the odds? I’m also reading a book about the history of mankind called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. I will admit that I’m wanting to finish that first. It’s so hard to read two at once. I’m sort of saving the Indian summer for our vacation even though I sneak a few pages in here and there in between the other book. I went through a renaissance phase with the kings and queens.

      3. I am very much into India history.. But, if you read Indian Summer, you should read a book about The Mutiny. Sapient sounds interesting.

        However, I am mulling over reading about military history as well. I also want to read about fractals..

      4. There are several, but here are two – The Indian Mutiny by Saul David and The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple.
        Saul David’s book provides a more comprehensive view of the Mutiny. William focusses on Delhi. Saul is more sympathetic to the Brits and brushes past the genocide perpetrated by the Brits during their backlash. William’s book is more explicit in terming their actions as genocide

      5. The period between 1857 and 1947 in Indian history is significant not just for India and Pakistan, but for its larger global implications, with respect to terrorism.

        By the way, my family’s ancestral home is in Pakistan.

      6. I love history! I really appreciate you giving me a little more info. We didn’t get much history about India in school honestly. So you are first generation from India? My ancestral home is Crete, Greece. I loved going there and seeing where my grandfather grew up and the house was pretty much in rubble because of the war.

      7. You are from Crete? Wow. I have travelled to Greece, but never to Crete.
        I am in what we call the transition generation. My dad is from the generation that had to escape the horrors of the partition. Then, is mine that has been affected by it. The third – my kids – does not relate emotionally to the Partition. Or, to the Mutiny of 1857

      8. No, I’m not from Crete but my grandparents are. Well my grandfather was and my yiayia (grandmother) was from Izmir, Turkey. My mom was first-born USA. But we went back to visit and spent 3 weeks in Greece with my huge family. It was a treat. They have a whole different attitude about life and living than we do here in the US…some good, some not so but I loved every minute of it. It’s always good for us to learn about the horrors of the past so we don’t repeat it. SOME day maybe we will have peace and acceptance but we have racial tensions here in the US STILL and mostly toward African Americans. Very sad. It’s in the news almost every single day.

      9. I get it… It’s like me not being from Pakistan, even though my roots are there.
        I have been reading about the racial tensions in the US, but I thought it was sporadic

      10. Well I guess the racial tensions are in certain places mostly. But honestly, I find that it’s always in the news. I don’t experience it myself because I was raised in Oakland and the Bay Area is extremely diverse. But it’s ALWAYS in the news about something somewhere here. When will we EVER get over this? sad

      11. The Bay Area is near San Francisco, right?
        Well, in my view, if I look at India, and what I have been reading about Indian history, it seems that Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs lived peacefully side by side for centuries. People associated themselves with their region and their neighbours more than their religion. It is after 1857 that the division between the religions started to take place. As the fight for Independence picked up then, from the 1920’s the voice for a Muslim homeland was heard. The origin of this voice lies, it appears, in the power rift between Nehru & Jinnah. As Muslims have formed hard line groups since then, so have the Hindus. And yet, we claim we are better educated than people of 200 years back!

      12. Thank you for that mini history! I really like hearing it from someone who lives there too. I think it makes a big difference. The Bay Area actually includes SF. The bay area consists of all the cities around the bay….Oakland, Berkeley, and even San Jose (although years ago it really wasn’t considered part of the bay area). Then we break it up into North Bay, South Bay, East Bay…there is no West Bay though although there is a “Peninsula” which are the cities south of SF and north of SJ. Whew. There’s a lesson in our mini geography. Have you been here?

      13. I know exactly where that is. I’ve lived in the Bay Area, including SF on and off, all my life. Next time you are here, let me know! My husband and I would love to have lunch.

  4. Dear Rajiv, humanity has tremendous problem. Today’s leaders think only about time from one election to another. They intimidate (or even murder) futurologists. They are afraid to face truths and to make decisive steps to prevent self-destruction.

  5. This is a topic of fairly constant discussion among my family and friends. It’s an age-old problem, but the crisis point does seem, logically, much nearer than to previous generations. A friend commented the other night that she’d just been listening to a fairly erudite group of scientists and futurists, among whom was one who claimed (seemingly with equanimity) that there are people living now who will be among the first to reach 300 years of age.

    My first question is: WHY? And the second, on its heels, must be: HOW? As you’ve noted, the divide between rich and poor has always grown rather than shrunk, and even if by some miracle of art and science and faith some discoveries make our finite resources of the elements of earth, air, fire, and water suddenly vastly more expansive, the problems will remain. A just and evenhanded distribution is impossible unless virtually everyone becomes uncharacteristically less greedy and selfish and power hungry. Will we accomplish three or four times as much good in this expanded lifespan? Will we see three or four times as much wickedness and stupidity? Will the *quality* of long-and-longer lives be as rich as it is now, or worse, or better?

    I, for one, am quite content (if not relieved) that I’m unlikely to be among those remaining to witness the answers, if any. The odds don’t impress me much, given human history. I have a very rich and happy life right now, but even as it stands I know it to be of undeserved and probably unsustainable good fortune as much as anything. I sincerely hope I’m wrong and that something nearer to Nirvana will grow, but I’m not holding my breath! Thanks for the great post.


    1. Thanks Kathryn for that reply. 300 years is a long time. I would imagine that you would feel stretched at the end of it. When I read about Gollum and his obsession with Sauron’s Ring, he felt stretched, and he had lived 500 years.

      If I was born 30 years ago, I would have witnessed the British butcher the Indians after the 1857 Mutiny. I would have seen Hindus and Muslims start to move away until Pakistan was carved out of India in a frenzy of hate and blood. Not sure if I would want that… The implications of carrying the wounds of the past can be horrendous. We are not a peaceful species.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.