ESSAY: A lecture on India: Large & Small by Prof. Amartya Sen
Affiliations such as nationality are not only matters of entitlement, they all also involve Attachment and responsibility. In a rapidly changing country, as India certainly is, one of the duties that we have as Indians is to ask: what kind of a country this is. This may lead to the further question: what does it demand of us, at this time?
I am very aware that it is rather reckless to ask grand questions of such apparent naivety. But since I don’t indulge in other dangerous activities, like taming lions, or being on the trapeze, or standing for parliamentary elections, perhaps I ought to show some bravery and foolhardiness here. Hence this lecture. India is of course a large country, with a huge population. The relative size of the Indian population is not a new phenomenon, contrary to the presumption, which seems fairly common in the world today, that India has become relatively enormous mainly because of recent population growth.
In fact, the share of India in world population prior to the eighteenth century was very considerably larger than it is today. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many other parts of the world – Europe in particular – grew much more rapidly than India and China and the non-Western world in general, and the share of the so-called West sharply increased. When that Western growth moderated, in the twentieth century, while the expansion of the non-Western population, including that in India, speeded up, there has been some catching up relative sizes, which according to U.N. projection may be completed during the first half of this century. All this does not, of course, diminish the importance of reducing the fertility rate in India (it is an urgent priority, given its social consequences), but it is important not to see the relative largeness of the Indian population as a brand new phenomenon.
Courtesy : Planning Commission
IAS ESSAY:ESSAY – 10 Yrs – From 2006 to 1997