Soroor Ahmed

The biggest irony of the post-Covid world is that China, the most populated country on the planet, managed to keep its economy going. In South Asia this credit goes to Bangladesh, where maximum number of people lives in one square kilometre. In many ways the performance of these two countries is better than those of several developed nations having much sparse population, for example, Australia, Canada, the United States.
If in this greatest health crisis of the century, China and Bangladesh can overcome the challenge then it would be wrong to treat human beings as a liability, which many of us still, rather wrongly, believe. Instead it is an asset, that’s why expression like human resources has been coined.
In this era of aging population the developed world is facing scarcity of hands, the countries having large population can certainly export their human resources and earn a lot. This is actually happening. And countries like India and China are among the top remittance earners of the world too. In 2020, India earned 83 billion dollars while China 60 billion dollars. But in India, this earning is more a result of distress and abrupt migration, rather than a planned one.
Gone are the days of obsolete Malthusian theory where the population was treated as a burden. That is why China, having 140 crore population, has in the last six years switched over from one-child policy to two-child policy to three-child policy now.
It is another thing that in India we are going the other way round even though the total fertility rate has come down well below the replacement rate of 2.1 per cent all over the country, barring Bihar, Nagaland and Meghalaya. Even in these three states the TFR is falling rapidly. Further fall in TFR would prove dangerous and lead to the problem of aging population.
Countries having huge population like China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc. are emerging as the biggest human resources exporters of the world. In the process they are expanding their soft-power to the western world. The cultural influence of these countries too is increasing in the West and if the things go the same way the latter would have to struggle to keep alive its monopoly.
In this globalised world, in which transportation and communication have become easy, there is no problem in becoming the supplier of rich human resources. But the tragedy is that we are doing precious little to make the human resources richer by investing in education, health, training, teaching human values, etc.
Why just talk about exporting good human resources. Skilled human resources can convert a poor economy into a good one, provided the whole things are managed in a better way. After the advent of Internet in 1997, millions of jobs were created in India and several other countries of the Third World. Now after spread of coronavirus and subsequent lockdown last year a new culture of “Work From Home” has emerged. This concept is going to stay and countries having good human resources can get job and business opportunities. Without bothering to travel thousands of kilometres in foreign land the skilled workforce can earn fast bucks while still remaining at their respective homes.
Once again Bangladesh is a better example as it was a basket case till a quarter century back. Its labour force which went outside to work also contributed immensely to improve its economy. Then a chain of garment industries emerged which helped the country grow much faster.
The problem with many of the Third World densely populated countries is that they have adopted the western-model of development. Instead of setting up or promoting environmental-friendly small-scale and cottage industries we are going overboard in building huge plants. After the rampant invasion by big private investors, job-cut has become a fashion. As unlike the government the big corporate houses have no social concern and they are not bothered about providing employment for the huge multitude of population.
Nowadays even the government is little bothered about utilising the service of big human resources. We are investing billions on the research for building driverless Metros, when the need of the hour is to create more and more jobs.
The problem is going to be aggravated further if we continue to blindly switch over to the artificial intelligence and robots. It is not that they have no need in this modern world. What is of concern is the manner in which even the Third World countries are following the West on this count.
The time has come to wage a relentless but peaceful struggle against misanthropism and embrace philanthropism.

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