New Dawn in India:
It appears (India’s Surprising Economic Miracle ECNOMIST vol. 397 no. 8702 October 2, 2010 page 11 and A Bumper but Freer road page 75 of the same issue) that India is growing very fast and is set to overtake China.  There are those who think China may overtake the United States some day, so we are looking at the mild irony of the oldest unbroken culture in the world becoming in time the greatest superpower. 

The ECONOMIST gives two reasons for this.  The first is demographic and the second is political.  India is the world’s biggest democracy.  Democracy is a precious thing and requires great vigilance and sacrifice to maintain.  But democracy can be established fairly quickly.  It did not take very long for the United States to go from being a crown colony with no representation in the British government to being an independent alliance of republics.  The biggest problem seems to have been the military one although one must respect the accomplishments of those who set up a viable political structure.  China has no independence to win, and given the will could become a republic in short order. 

The demographic situation is harder to change.  India has a vigorous birth rate.  China does not.  In theory China could relax the one child policy they have had for many years and their population would stop aging.  I doubt that would work.  Where it has been tried in China there has been no increase in the birth rate.  From the weight of the evidence, the upheavals of the communist revolution so roiled the population that genetic diversity has gone up and thus fertility down.  Also young people have been moving into cities with the result of greater economic opportunities but inevitable fertility decline.

India has been spared comparable effects on the distribution.  People are pretty much where they were and the population is structured by the much loathed in this country but probably very valuable and to them very dear caste system.  Their birth rate has been maintained.

Even President Obama is making a display of reaching out to this neglected partner.  The diplomatic situation is difficult.  India and Pakistan have old enmities that will not soon go away, and the United States is deeply committed to Pakistan as an ally.  Still it is a gesture that has been long in coming and I think it is a good one.

Many times I have looked at the globe and searched for doom and gloom.  I don’t know why.  I’m just like that maybe.  But every time I have reached a suitably dismal prediction I have been forced to think, “But India will still be there.  She will be strong.  She will be educated.  Her population will not be dying.  It won’t be all that bad.” 

Of course once it is understood how fertility and kinship are related to each other, it won’t be bad anywhere unless people so choose.  But to date the knowledge is not widespread and thus people are not truly free to choose.

Hope for the best.

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