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Has India Become the Poster Child for the World's Population Woes? Has India Become the Poster Child for the World's Population Woes?

Has India Become the Poster Child for the World's Population Woes?

by Reno Ong
June 3, 2010

The image above evokes a certain reaction. It's a sense of claustrophobia, of overcrowding, and of a general impression of population excess. This seems to be how most of us are programmed to think about countries like China and India.

Lisa Hymas, senior editor at Grist, has written a reaction to a Mother Jones article that she claims "inappropriately frames" developing nations as main players in global population problems while ignoring the acts of wealthy western nations:

But I think both she and Mother Jones erred in making India the focus of this particular piece. A person casually browsing through the magazine is likely to come away with one impression: population problem = India. Even people who read every word of Whitty's article will be left thinking about the relationship between population pressures and India. Optics matter. If Indians aren't the main offenders, why put them in the spotlight? Why not illustrate an article about the global population problem with photos of New York City's traffic-choked streets, or London's jam-packed Tube system, or a crowded mega-mall in Alberta, or Phoenix's bleak sprawl?

True enough, while certain countries are home to a tremendous amount of people, the population problem extends beyond that of congestion and population size. Scarcity and resource-availability are two crucial aspects of this global issue. Taking those into account, it seems that many other countries that don't necessarily suffer from overpopulation—but that have destructive consumption habits—could have a thing or two to improve on, as well.

Photo (cc) by flickr user mckaysavage

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