The recent earthquake in the Sichuan province of China has been very devastating. Thousands of people lost their lives and the terrain has been mauled beyond any recognition. Rivers have changed course and dams have burst. Chinese army is struggling with a war like situation in peaceful times with no conventional enemy in sight. In many places damaged dams are being exploded with ammunition for avoiding greater catastrophes. Thousands of people have been rendered homeless in a country that is considered one of the galloping nations in the global development race. Once again, natural warnings are addressed to those who tend to take Nature for granted while charting out fast track courses for development. And the more divorced one is from natural logic the more severe would be the punishment.
In the all pervading trauma that follows any earthquake there are so many subtle aftershocks that can miss our notice. The devastating earthquake has exposed many basic errors in the social development measures that Chinese had highlighted to the whole world as their own unique ones, impossible for any others to imitate. There is no doubt that China is a special country and they have tremendous advantages as a nation with predominantly one race, one language and one religion. Yet when it comes to translating developmental goals into action in terms of reforms in the society the straight jacket systems can develop chinks. Disciplined people too can come across totally unexpected obstacles while working towards goals set up by their masters. The earthquake scenario in China has thrown up many such situations and we should take note of them for avoiding the same mistakes.
One of the sad and striking stories that have emerged from the earthquake scene is about the number of Chinese villages that will be 'people-less' after a few years. Several schools have been destroyed and with them the single child from most of the households. It is now too late for many of the couples to compensate for their losses. They are proud citizens who were earnestly participating in the fast track growth of their nation. But suddenly they are at crossroads with nothing to look forward to. Nobody will take care of them in their old age and all their sacrifices are in vain. They heeded to the dictates of a tough regime for accelerating national progress but now they themselves have no future. Raw logic of economics and development has ruined their lives forever. They do not have anything left in this life and many do not believe in rebirths either.
China's single child policy has been lauded by many as something that only Chinese could decide and implement. Population control is a must for accelerating the progress of any country and it is all the more important for overloaded ones like China and India. Yet when an 'over-democratic' country like India attempted to implement their two-child family planning program it was cleverly sabotaged by the organized communities. External and internal agencies worked overtime to use it as an opportunity to cheat the majority and accelerate their own population growth. Enough is enough and now India must learn from catastrophe in their neighborhoods. India must say good-bye to its two-child norm and relieve the majority community from the state-induced inhibition towards larger families. The Indian majority must multiply at a higher rate for the betterment of India in every sense.
Building dams anywhere and everywhere is an easy option for irrigating an ever increasing requirement of agricultural land. Unlike in India, where each dam-building project is preceded by reasonable & unreasonable objections and intimidating mass movements, it is a much easier exercise to construct dams wherever required in China which is disciplined and under a strict dictatorial regime. The umpteen number of small, medium and massive dams in every province of China is a proof of this. Environmental and ecological impact assessments are not an essential step in their decision making process. The one and only objective is development for the Chinese nation and for Chinese people. And now we know what happens when the natural terrain is mutilated without any consideration for the sake of development. The natural reaction can be much more devastating than any terrorist attack.
A damaged dam is a much greater threat to the nearby areas than any river in full flood. Chinese army is working in full steam to demolish such damaged dams in dozens. And each demolished dam will give rise to a whole lot of new problems. The flow of river will take newer paths that will call for more rehabilitation of affected people. Thus thousands of people have been rendered homeless by the careless logic of ubiquitous irrigation dams and the entire advantage has been wiped out by one earthquake. It is true that China could meet the food requirement of their massive population much easier than India, but the way they have chosen is now questionable. Natural flow of rivers cannot be hampered just for the sake of irrigating more and more lands for food.
The overall message is now loud and clear. Natural resources, natural patterns and natural logic cannot be tampered with merely for achieving material progress and development. Due consideration has to be given to everything that is related to a natural system or process while attempting to harness it for unintended purposes. Population growth and food production are just two of those natural processes that cannot be manipulated with limited objectives. Nature has its own ways to limit the population and provide food for them. Man-made governments must design their national objectives in line with the natural objectives. And not only the two objectives must match but also the government measures must be subservient to those of the all powerful Nature. No 'undefinism' can ever overtake the natural pace of development and progress. Any apparent acceleration will always get corrected and that too in very violent fashions. India's planners must learn from the social aftershocks of Chinese earthquakes.