Population remains a thorny topic for many quarters and governments around the world. So many graphs have been shown where as population size increases, per capita income decreases. So people make some causality analysis, one is caused by the other, but which one really causes the other?
This is one of the issues tackled by Barun Mitra, Founder and Director of the Liberty Institute in Delhi, India. Barun gave a talk at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF) Manila office last week, January 27 evening. In this picture, Barun is between me and Jules Maaten, FNF Resident Manager in the Philippines. The audience wasn't big (short notice and preparation) but the discussion was intense and very lively. I had to cut the discussion by 8:30pm as food was ready and discussions can still continue over nice food and wine.
Before Barun talked, I gave Jules a copy of my first book, "Health Choices and Responsibilities", 230 pages, published by Central Book Supply Inc., and was delivered to me only 2 weekends ago.
Barun showed several graphs and tables. One table that struck me was the expected number of new working age population from 2010-2020. India about 123 million, China only around 25 million! The one-child policy coercion by the Chinese government since the 70s has caught up with it. Lots of Chinese are now ageing, the number of young Chinese who will work to support themselves, their elders, other seniors with no children, the government bureaucracy, will not be enough soon.
This will have huge demographic, economic and political implications for China. The hundreds of thousands of factories in China will soon be using foreign workers or robots to keep up production. Millions of productive and entrepreneurial Chinese who have 2 or more children are living in Hong Kong, US, Philippines and other countries.
About the Reproductive Health (RH) bill being debated in Philippine Congress, I actually did not study it much because my impression is that it is a battle between a big Government and a big Catholic church, each trying to influence or impose their respective wills on an otherwise autonomous unit -- the household. Barun told me that between a big G and a big C, he'd choose the latter. Me too.
What I don't like in the RH bill is one provision where sex education will become part of public education curriculum. What? Less hours for science, math and english, to accommodate more sectoral issues like population, environment, HIV, and others pushed by various influential groups and their respective political agenda?
A trying-hard nanny state like the Philippine government would have the implicit desire to limit natural population growth (ie, population control) because more population of the poor would mean bigger demand for public education, public health, public housing, public credit, etc.
Which is the fault of a BIG government that wants to assume more government responsibilities and would give little room for personal and parental responsibilities. Why is education a government responsibility and not parental responsibility (at least at the tertiary level) by the way?
After Barun's lecture, nice food, softdrinks and wine took the center stage. Here with my fellow UPSE alumni, Gary Makasiar (to my left) and Simplicio Endaya and his wife. Barun was being pulled from one corner to another as the participants wanted to hear more ideas and data from him.
Coming from the world's 2nd biggest population country, and advocating the philosophy of more individual responsibility and more personal freedom, Barun is indeed among the best persons to talk about the subject of population policy.