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'Limits of growth'

Highlights

We are now 112-crore strong as per the census figures for 2011 released recently. In these two years, we might have added at least another 2 crores....

We are now 112-crore strong as per the census figures for 2011 released recently. In these two years, we might have added at least another 2 crores. In 1947 the population of the country was 35 crores and after Partition we were left with 30 crores. A These facts are known to all of us and during these six decades several steps have been taken by rulers to limit the growth to reasonable limits. There is no denying that there is increasing awareness among the people, by and large, and two or three children families have become the norm.

Futurologists have been alerting us sufficiently from time to time about the impending doom if we fail to take remedial measures on all fronts. They predicted that at least two-thirds of the world � underdeveloped and developing countries � will continue to grapple with familiar problems of population explosion, poverty, unemployment, hunger, housing shortages and diseases, dramatic and even traumatic changes are likely to occur in the highly developed and affluent countries.

Those changes will be mainly brought about by technological innovation resulting in 'super-industrialism' of those societies. Will the average human being, accustomed as he is to traditional attitudes and ways of life, be able to adapt himself to the changes, unexpected and sometimes undreamt of or will he wilt and wither under the oncoming 'avalanche' of change?

'Future Shock'

This is the subject of a fascinating and epoch-making study entitled 'Future Shock' by Alvin Tofler. This book headed the 'Time' list of best sellers for many months in late 1960s and won widespread acceptance and admiration at all levels, particularly among intellectuals, scientists, sociologists and psychologists. Tofler starts with the premises that according to growing body of reputed opinion the present moment represents nothing less than a second 'great divide' in history.

'Automation' represents the greatest change in the whole history of mankind. Man has never seen so much change as he has done during the last few decades. A Now, we are heading towards what may be called 'super- industrialism'. It will entail life patterns so fast, so different from what man is used to for the past so many centuries that it will also create many problems of growth � industrial, economic and technological.

Some of the problems listed by Tofler are extensive and rapid urbanization. Earth's urban population will double every 11 years, bringing in its wake problems of environment, pollution, unrest, traffic breakdowns, lawlessness and even revolutions.A Man's extensive use of resources will lead to rapid depletion of resources of the earth, driving man into the sea and probably into the space for finding further resources! Then there is an explosion of knowledge brought about by rapidly expanding communication network through books, radio, television, telephones and computers. When he wrote that, the present cell phone revolution had not even been dreamt of.

A whole new field of biological engineering is likely to develop in the next few years. A couple may be able to 'select' and 'purchase' an embryo in a baby bank. Motherhood may become unnecessary, thus releasing women for the more manly tasks. All this will lead to a growing disillusionment with moral standards and values.

Controlled technology The problems that man will have to face require of him an extraordinary degree of adaptation and adjustment which will lead to great deal of 'stress' and 'distress'. Tofler defines future shock as distress both physical and psychological. He offers a few remedial measures designed to prevent such a shock.

He cautions against 'economic philistinism' which has its sacred goal of increasing Gross National Product without considering the baneful effects of earth's environment, available resources and the future needs. He feels that technological innovations must be screened to find out whether they will serve public good before such innovations were launched.

In effect, he pleads for 'controlled technology' tailored to subserve overall social goals of the people. According to Tofler unless mankind takes up a study of the future based on present trends and available knowledge, man will find himself incapable of coping with the change that he himself has brought forth. One of the most remarkable books, 'Future Shock' based on painstaking research, offers an invaluable insight into man's future on this planet.

Will the average human being, accustomed as he is to traditional attitudes and ways of life, be able to adapt himself to the changes, unexpected and sometimes undreamt of or will he wilt and wither under the oncoming 'avalanche' of change?

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