RISING ANTI-NATALIST?

BY SUNIL DANG

The debate has shifted from being an ‘Anti-nationalist’ to being an ‘Anti-natalist’. Yes you heard it right. We aren’t sure if you have come across this term before but yes, this has suddenly begun to attract some traction in India. For the uninitiated, being an anti-natalist means believing in a philosophy that advocates that it’s cruel of parents to bring humans into this overburdened world & increase carbon emissions & leave this planet poorer.  

Move over the late Sanjay Gandhi’s slogan of “Our hum do, hamare do’, we may soon be denouncing procreation in its entirety. Already ‘Live in without baggage’, ‘no marriage till 40’ & ‘Just two of us’ as friends have become a fad in India. Adopting other’s children or pets in the form of dogs & cats may be the substitute for children. Hope we don’t reach a point where being celibate is celebrated & being biologically alive is loathed. Can it get so boring?

Well, in the Indian context, not to be going through the triad of marrying, procreating & parenting could be considered blasphemous; However given the dire financial, environmental & emotional challenges faced by most of India, the anti-natalists belief about bringing a child into a world with poisoned air and water being criminal isn’t without any basis. They also think that since we live longer now, the same has left little resource for our progeny on this planet.

Now therein lay the paradox. Just because raising a child is immense responsibility that asks for care, space, money, commitment & sensibility, it isn’t convincing enough to shed our biological instincts. Should we be out rightly dismissive of child rearing? Just because some study equates the impact of having one fewer child to reducing 58 metric tonnes of CO2 for each year of the parent’s life, we should forget about bringing our progeny to this planet?

Well anti-natalism has for sure thrown a challenge at the Government? We are perhaps witnessing a reverse trending of sorts, a replay of what older nations like Japan & China have gone through in their developing years. Our country prides itself with 65-70 % of its population being below the age of 30. That is pure resourcefulness which not many competing nations have. It isn’t a disadvantage being a young nation & getting younger every year. Yes, there are challenges that people & the government have to tackle collectively, lest we fall prey to the devil’s machinations that go against the run of the nature. The government would be well guided to check such dysfunctionality that has the potential of becoming a movement of weird proportions.

A case in point may be to have one child theory gain momentum. This can be enforceable by means of legislation or a law & not by wishful thinking. When the government is encouraging save ‘Girl child’ & very suitably banning “Pre-Natal sex determination’, it can’t be seen watching such charade from the sidelines play out without intervening at the appropriate time. Or else slogans like Beti, Beti padao’ shall look more farcical.  We may dig deep & find that the roots of anti-natalism hinging to some sects of gnosticism at the turn of the first and second centuries AD. These sects believed that salvation came from knowledge, and all forms of worldly matter were evil. Some interpretations of early Buddhist texts also offer warnings against bringing children into a world that is full of misery and suffering.

But wouldn’t we be negating the very theory of biological science & evolution by paying too much heed to outright abandonment?  Agreed that our resources are being stretched to breaking point & this realisation is crossing people’s minds once too often. This may well be the uncomfortable truth that is perhaps motivating some to not contribute further to the problems. But whether environmental concerns alone shall decide for or against producing children, the theory is highly debatable.