Population, progress and poverty: Fat millionaires and hungry beggars

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Kul Bhushan’s considerations after Danica Camacho from the Philippines was born on October 30th, the 7-billionth human being on the planet

With the world population which crossed the seven billion mark at the end of last month, India’s rich-poor gap widens even more. Indians thump their chests with pride when they declare that their country is now the second fastest growing economy, joining the trillion dollar economy club to become a superpower. But they are not happy to acknowledge that India has the highest number of poor people in the world estimated at over 400 million. The rest are lower, middle and upper middle classes. Right at the top are 204,000 millionaires in dollar terms and at the peak are 50 billionaires in dollar terms. Such is the hectic pace of growth of Indian millionaires that no less than 34,000 new ones joined this select club. The frightening question is: can these islands of prosperity continue to flourish in this sea of poverty?

Even the so-called rich countries like USA have the same problem. Less than one per cent of the US population controls over 21 per cent of its economy. The average income of a white household is 20 times more than the income of a black household. The slowdown of the US – indeed all western – economies, the lack of jobs, the loss of homes due to non-payment of loans is sharply contrasted by the mega-profits of banks and multi-million dollar bonuses paid to bankers. All this anger and frustration has exploded in ‘Occupy Wall Street’ demonstrations that have started in around 900 cities in 80 countries. Thus the image of the United States as ‘the land of opportunity’ and the country of successful people has taken a severe bashing.

Osho talked about the US with its street people always hidden from the view, its poor suffering from a lack of opportunity and its denial of real freedom. Now after the 2008 recession, the ugly truth has come out. Before it erupts like the Arab Spring revolts, this rich-poor gap must be reduced in all countries while population needs to be controlled in poor countries. The average population change is currently estimated at around 75 million per year. This has to be reduced, as Osho has always advocated for India. Can we ever have peace in any country with a hundred fat millionaires and millions of hungry beggars?

Osho on Population

Q: Are you concerned about world population?

A: Certainly. I am very much concerned about the world population, because if somehow we can postpone the nuclear war, the world population is going to kill humanity. It is growing with such a speed that unless science is diverted towards human needs, it is very difficult not to have many Ethiopias. And it is a sad thing that all around you there are people dying and you cannot do anything, you feel almost helpless.

Everything can be done, but all science is geared towards death. Who cares about Ethiopia or India? Who bothers? Their whole concern is how to be more powerful than the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union’s scientists’ whole problem is how to be more powerful than America. And small, stupid nations also are lined up either behind America or behind Russia. There are a few fools like India, too, who think that by remaining unaligned, they will be in a better position and can have the friendship of both sides. They are wrong. They don’t understand the ABC of politics. Unaligned, they are enemies of both parties, not friends. Nobody can trust them, and nobody can help them.

The world is almost cut into two parts, and the population is growing in the poor countries more because the poor man has no other entertainment than sex. The rich man has many other things. He can afford many other entertainments. He can listen to music, he can enjoy Mozart, he can see a great dancer, he can go to the theater, he can have the best wine available. He has all the beautiful books to read, all the beautiful statues to collect.

But the poor man has nothing other than sex as his entertainment. So he goes on producing, and the religious leaders help him to go on producing, because they want more numbers.


Q: Do you advocate enforced birth control or sterilization?

A: Certainly. Absolute birth control for twenty years… because it is not a question of small importance. If for twenty years there is absolute birth control, it will give two things to humanity. One, the population will start disappearing. I want the world to come to one-fourth of its population; only then can it be a beautiful garden of life. Second, if people become accustomed to birth control for twenty years, sex will not remain a serious problem. After the pill, sex has no significance at all — it is just fun. It has nothing profane about it and nothing sacred about it. It is just a biological game.

And if two persons feel like playing tennis, let them play.

excerpts from Osho, The Last Testament, Vol 1, Ch 14 (Oregon, USA, 1985)

Population Key Facts

World population had reached 6 billion in 1999. Population in the world is currently growing at a rate of around 1.10% per year. The average population change is currently estimated at around 75 million per year.

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Annual growth rate reached its peak in the late 1960s, when it was at 2% and above. World population will continue to grow in the 21st century, but at a slower rate compared to the recent past. World population has doubled (100% increase) in 40 years from 1959 (3 billion) to 1999 (6 billion). It is now estimated that it will take a further 42 years to increase by another 50%, to become 9 billion by 2042.

World Population

Year Population

0001 200 million
1000 275 million
1500 450 million
1650 500 million
1750 700 million
1804 1 billion
1850 1.2 billion
1900 1.6 billion
1927 2 billion
1950 2.55 billion
1955 2.8 billion
1960 3 billion
1965 3.3 billion
1970 3.7 billion
1975 4 billion
1980 4.5 billion
1985 4.85 billion
1987 5 billion
1990 5.3 billion
1995 5.7 billion
1999 6 billion
2000 6.1 billion
2005 6.45 billion
2010 6.8 billion
2011 7 billion

2020 7.6 billion
2027 8 billion
2030 8.2 billion
2040 8.8 billion
2046 9 billion
2050 9.2 billion

As per May 2011 statistics, 24 most populous countries in the world (those having a population over fifty million) are:

1. China – 1,341,335,000
2. India – 1,224,614,000
3. United States – 310,384,000
4. Indonesia – 239,781,000
5. Brazil – 194,946,000
6. Pakistan – 173,593,000
7. Nigeria – 158,423,000
8. Bangladesh – 148,692,000
9. Russia – 142,958,000
10. Japan – 126,536,000

Other main countries:

France – 62,787,000
United Kingdom – 62,036,000
Italy – 60,551,000
South Africa – 50,133,000

Text by Kul Bhushan – previously published in Osho World Magazine

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