While browsing through Dadabhai Naorjoji's Poverty and UnBritish Rule in India (1901), I came across this fascinating section which is a "MUST READ"!
We attribute (or at least I do) the fightback against Malthus to Julian Simon, but I'm delighted to note that both Macaulay and Naoroji both vigorously attacked Malthusian folly. At least I'm in good company.
Despite that Malthus never seems to die. The ENTIRE "intellectual" class of India is smitten with Malthus, and if it could, would sterlise every single Indian (but themselves).
This question of population, of “the ever-increasing multitudes,” requires further examination. Macaulay, in his review of Southey’s “Colloquies on Society,” says:
“When this island was thinly peopled, it was barbarous; there was little capital, and that little was insecure. It is now the richest and the most highly civilised spot in the world, but the population is dense But when we compare our own condition with that of our ancestors, we think it clear that the advantages arising from the progress of civilisation have far more than counterbalanced the disadvantages arising from theprogress of population. While our numbers have increased tenfold, our wealth has increased hundredfold. . . . . If we were to prophesy that in the year 1930 a population of fifty millions, better fed, clad, and lodged than the English of our time, will cover these islands, . . . many people would think us insane. We prophesy nothing; but this we say, if any person had told the Parliament which met in perplexity and terror after the crash in 172o, that in 183o the wealth of England would surpass all their wildest dreams, . . . . that for one man of ten thousand pounds then living there would be five men of fifty thousand pounds, our ancestors would have given as much credit to the prediction as they gave to ‘Gulliver’s Travels.’"
I claim no prophecy, but the statesmen of 1833 have prophesied, and the Proclamation of 1858 has prophesied. Do what they have said, and their prophecies shall be fulfilled.
Now let us see a few more facts. Because a country increases in population it does not necessarily follow that it must become poorer; nor because a country is densely populated that therefore it must be poor. Says Macaulay “England is a hundredfold more wealthy while it is tenfold denser.” The following figures speak for themselves:—
The densest Province of British India is Bengal (43). Thus here are countries denser and thinner than British India, but every one of them has a far better income than British India. Belgium, denser than the densest Presidency of British India, is eleven times more wealthy; England as dense, is twenty times more wealthy. Here are some very thinly populated countries: Mexico, 13 per square mile; Venezuela, 4.7; Chili, 8.8; Peru, 18.6; Argentine Republic, 2.6; Uruguay, 7.8; and several others.
Are they therefore so much richer than England or Belgium? Here is Ireland, at your door. About its people the Duke of Argyll only a few weeks ago (22nd of April last), in the House of Lords, said: “Do not tell me that the Irish labourer is incapable of labour, or energy, or exertion. Place him in favourable circumstances, and there is no better workman than the Irishman. I have myself employed large gangs of Irishmen, and I never saw any navvies work better; and besides that, they were kind and courteous men.” [Sanjeev: So true of Indians as well. No more hard working people exist in this world.]
The population of Ireland is less than one-third as dense as that of England; and yet how is it that the income of England is 141 and that of Ireland only 1,16 per inhabitant, and that the mass of the people do not enjoy the benefit of even that much income, and are admittedly wretchedly poor?
British India’s resources are officially admitted to be enormous, and with an industrious and law-abiding people, as Sir George Birdwood testifies, it will be quite able to produce a large income, become as rich as any other country, and easily provide for an increasing population and increasing taxation, if left free scope.
Sanjeev: That last bit is the key. LEFT FREE SCOPE.
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