I have been reading Dan Brown's Inferno since last week. And before you get all judgemental, I have a predisposition for thrillers and allow myself a treat of thrillers once in a while.
Anyway, first thing that the book has done is made me realise that I want to read Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. I want to read about his journey through hell, purgatory and finally paradise. Actually, I mostly want to read the inferno bit of it. Because, apparently hell is described in the most beautiful way. Second thing, it made me think.
I don't know if Dan Brown intended to make his book on the ethical dilemma or not. But, the book does pose a very interesting question. If you had a switch which could kill half the people on the earth (any random half which could include you or your relatives), but ensure that the rest of the human race survives, would you do it? I think I would. But then, that's my answer now. I don't know what I would do if I was faced with the actual switch. The book talks about the bane of overpopulation and how it will be the very reason to destroy the human race unless something is done to stem the population growth and the population in general. Very bold statements are made in the book about releasing diseases into the population to stem its expansion. Which can be termed as quite frightening. But the fact remains that overpopulation is leading to a strain on the earth's resources. And no amount of renewable resources can hide the amount of abuse the earth is under.
As a resident of India, I am very well aware of how bad overpopulation can be. With a population of 1.24 billion with a growth rate which is showing no signs of slowing down, the overpopulation factor is one of the major factors which is impeding India's growth. WIth limited access to amenities by a vast section of the society, the Indian society is suffering from the ill effects of overpopulation. One way to control this growth in population is to implement the one child policy like China did. However, in India, promoting the one child policy to combat overpopulation is most likely to lead to a further decline in the already low gender ratio. The same was witnessed by China with an increase in sex-selective abortions. Though, there has been a ban on sex-selective abortions in India, it is very difficult to monitor such cases, with a number of mom and pop sonography centres across the country performing the discreet services of sex determination.
Anyway, I am no expert on population. So, writing anything more than an opinion on the facts presented in the books is beyond my realm. But the book got me thinking. Which is not something I expect to do when I am reading a thriller. Would I pull that switch? If not me, then hopefully, there is someone brave enough to pull that switch.