Thoughts on economics and liberty

Response to Parag Hede regarding the role of population in India’s Third World status and performance

Parag has commented:

Comments below:

It is true that overpopulation appears to be a problem. But in reality, it is not population itself that is the problem but lack of opportunities (education, good jobs) for the population.

A large population is an asset, not a liability. The human brain – ingenuity – is the greatest resource. Furthermore, natural resources are not finite. We are constantly discovering new reserves and alternative substitutes. Likewise, for the production of food. Food prices are constantly falling as a relative share of our incomes, as humans are able to grow more food on less land, by using better technology. Humanity is not in any danger of ever running out of natural resources or food, no matter how much our population increases.

Well-educated people who can employ their skills in meaningful, nation-building, indeed, civilization-enhancing work, are never undesired, no matter how many of them are there. In fact, more such people are there in a country (or the world), better it is for that country.

But when learning opportunities and good employment opportunities are limited (which are results of bad governance and bad systems in a country), population becomes a drain on the system. In this case, a person takes more from the country than he produces for it. In that case the person does become a burden.

SBP’s goal is creating more opportunities and setting up better systems so that each and every individual is enabled and empowered to contribute to their maximum potential. With good systems and incentives in place, each and every person can and will become an asset for our great country. The more the number of highly educated persons in India, the greater the scope for innovation.

In fact, under the scenario of policies that SBP will implement, our large population (of capable people) will allow us to progress even faster.

The government should just see to it that they provide essential public goods such as law and order, police, justice, and some infrastructure. It must ensure reasonable equality of opportunity through the facilitation of high-quality education and high-quality vocational training for the poor, and create a business-friendly and business-enabling economic environment for the private sector to create jobs and innovate.

The government has absolutely no role in curbing the population or interfering with a couple’s personal choice to have as many children as they wish.


The size of a country’s population does not correlate with a country’s level of poverty. Even in India, even as our population has grown manifold after independence, absolute poverty has declined after liberalisation of the economy.

The richest parts of India, such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, etc. are also the most densely populated.

The richest parts of India, such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, etc. are also the most densely populated. Singapore, Hong Kong, Bahrain and Netherlands are more densely populated than India but are also much richer.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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