Amidst, the catastrophe of Covid – 19, I am reminded of a Theory of Population propounded by Thomas Robert Malthus. The theory is famously known as Malthusian Theory of Population. Malthus in 1798 wrote this theory in his book An Essay on the Principle of Population. The theory explains that population grows in terms of geometric progression while food production grows in arithmetic progression. In simple terms,
From the above, we can infer that the same number ‘2’ is making a big difference when it is working as a multiple, rather than a addend. Now, this difference is witnessed between the population growth and the growth in the food supply. This leads to destabilization of the relation between food supply and growing population. Malthus, does not stop here. He continues to say that nature has its own mechanism of restoring equilibrium through checking the population growth. These are called as positive checks. These include: wars, epidemics, famines, and other natural calamities. Such positive checks control the growth of population and stabilize the relation between food supply and population. In order to avoid these positive checks, Malthus recommends some preventive checks which must be adopted by man to control the population. These preventive checks will further, help in containing the positive checks themselves. This theory looks very much relevant today, as the population of the world has reached its greatest number, that is 7.8 billions. Due to increased economic prosperity, most of the people are not following population control measures. It is not that only uneducated and poor sections of the world are doing this. Even highly educated people are going for more children as they think they can afford to have more kids due to their prosperous life. This brings back to the current Global crisis of Covid -19. UNO has declared it as a global pandemic, a word that is rarely used. Now, can this be called as a positive check that has been refered to by Malthus. Yes, the world is going through a positive check which is difficult to control as man has not taken enough measures to put the preventive checks. High populations cause this positive check even more severe. Asia and Europe have more density of population (96.4 and 72.9 per square kilometre). and therefore controlling Covid-19 will be an enormous task. How and where exactly the Corona virus infected the humans is not yet confirmed. But, Wuhan’s illegal live animal market has been one of the major contributor to this. Now, we are coming to what Malthus said, food. China, in order to support the growing populations largely depends on the sea food. And because, there is huge demand for sea food in the market, it calls for illegal trade. Obviously, it implies that safety measures are not put into practice in producing this sea food. The Middle East and Europe are the most overpopulated regions of the world. Though China and India are highly populated, their geographic areas makes them less denser than Europe and Middle East. However, the density of urban population is another important feature to be noted. Outbreak of any epidemic is difficult to be controlled in highly dense urban areas. Again Asian and European cities stand ahead. It is pertinent to note that Covid – 19 cases are more in the densely populated areas of the world. A world map of Covid – 19 cases and density of population coincide. This is not a mere coincidence but the tragic reality. And here lies the significance of Malthusian Theory of Population.