Infosys Co-founder Narayana Murthy today warned about the consequences of India’s high population growth rate and said the country did not put population control on the “front burner” since the excesses of the forced sterilisation during the Emergency in the mid-70s.
Speaking at the convocation ceremony at Techno India University in Kolkata, Mr Murthy told students, “High population growth has the potential to wreak havoc on our country in the next twenty to twenty-five years.”
“Ever since the excesses of the forced sterilisation during the Emergency, our country has not put population control on the front burner. India’s per capita land availability is just 7 per cent of the United States, while in Brazil, it is just 5 per cent. The per capita land of India is one-third that of China among countries with large land mass,” Mr Murthy said.
Mr Murthy quoted an article in the Technology Review from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to highlight the impact of high population growth on access to water.
“India has only 4 per cent of the world’s freshwater but accounts for 16 per cent of the world population. The most urgent need is to reduce the population growth rate,” he said.
“Certain parts of India are making decent progress in reducing their population growth rate, while others have not paid sufficient attention to this important issue,” the Infosys Co-founder, who was the chief guest at the ceremony, said.
Quoting former US President Franklin D Roosevelt to stress the importance of freedom in a democracy, Mr Murthy said, “President Franklin D Roosevelt defined a true democracy as having four freedoms. Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Faith, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want.”
“Democracy works best in an environment of pluralism, where every citizen has the freedom to practice one’s own beliefs and faith without imposing it on others and without hampering the progress of others. Democracy in India will only prosper if we create a mindset that reflects the commonality of our beliefs rather than our differences,” he said.
The Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, Ratan Tata, was also awarded the Doctors of Letter degree for an exemplary career as an industrialist and philanthropist. Cricketer Sourav Ganguly, actor Sushmita Sen, singer Kavita Krishnamurthy, scientist Dr. Tessy Thomas, writer Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay were also among those who received DLitt degrees.
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