Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A modest proposal

The 2011 Census, currently underway in India, is likely to come up with a population figure exceeding 1.2 billion.

If it keeps growing at this pace, the country will soon face a massive shortage of food and space, resulting in much misery for all. Everybody has been saying this all along but done nothing about it.

It therefore falls on my broad shoulders to lead humanity out of this crisis. I’ve been exercising my mind to find a solution to this problem and have drawn inspiration from a few science-fiction books and movies.

One method as suggested by the movie Soylent Green set in a dystopian future was to feed the population with processed food that was centrally manufactured by a Govt-controlled Corporation. The processed food was called Soylent Green and it was made from human bodies. This system is efficient and has other merits too, but is not very elegant if you ask me.

The film Logan’s Run came up with the idea of euthanasia. Those who reached the age of 30 were bumped off in a religious ceremony known as Carousel. This method is undoubtedly elegant, but is bound to cause some serious imbalance. You can't have the entire population made up of exuberant sub-30 creatures. You need some moderating influence and sagacity that comes only at my age.

I personally prefer the method advocated by Kurt Vonnegut in his story 2BR02B. For a change he doesn’t paint a dystopic future. He, in fact, describes a fairly Utopian setting where illness has been completely eliminated and death can happen only by accidents, if at all. But, the population of the USA is tightly regulated and maintained at forty million, through a combination of infanticide and assisted suicide. If you wanted to have a baby, you had to find someone to volunteer to die.

This is not only an elegant and simple mechanism, but can also be made foolproof using the efficiency of the free market. Those who desire to have birth certificates for their newborns must produce a ‘death certificate’ of some other person, purchased in a ‘Life Exchange’. The proceeds from the sale of the death certificate will go to the heirs of the deceased, offering them an incentive to put him up for sale in the first place.

Post-Census India will need some such model. Human inventiveness knows no bounds and I am sure that we will be able to build on this concept and refine it to the complete satisfaction of all.


Ramesh said...

ahh i can already see protests happening for the last proposal .. congress will ask for an amendment which exempts the gandhi family, the communists will immolate themselves calling it anti-poor and bjp will push for a change to ensure that the proportion of hindus in the population remains constant :P

Raj said...

Ramesh, don't worry. I'll ensure that market forces take care of all these pinpricks. If someone is exempt, his/her price in the Exchange will go up, and heirs will be tempted to put them up for sale.