Radical social change needed

(The following article was posted in the "Meditations" column of the Hindustan Times, one of India's largest English language daily newspapers, on 2 July 2004.) ACCORDING TO a recent Families First poll, the average cost in America to ralse a child to the age of 18 is Rs 1,4 crore. Miranda Burkes of Wisconsin, USA, complains, "I can't even think of having anuther kid. Where's the money going to come from?" Her view is that she has freedom of choice, and can enjoy herself by going to a local mall once a week -- for life in a network of 'unending variety'. Despite Miranda's lament, and contrary to popular opinion, a majority of Americans do not favour abortion on demand - only in cases of rape and incest. Just 29 per cent think 'no fault' abortions should be granted. What's the Vedic version? Well, Vishnu intervened when Ashwathama attempted to abort Parikshit (Bhagavata 1.12.1.) There's something wrong in the way our economy operates, and in our social structures. Maybe there's something to be said for the 'joint family' - for raising many wanted children in a caring atmosphere, where lots of adults are around to help the kids feel loved. Not likely in today's world of 'double income no kids' (DINK) family units where pundits predict that a population explosion can't be supported. Some experts say that if by 2020 birth control trends remain constant, world population would see a precipitous decline. But others know there are not enough people in Europe to run several economies. All this begs for a radical social change. Maybe a reverse trend towards a less centralised way of life. More naturally advanced, more organised for love. Kids don't cry. You"!l understand when you grow up. People thought they could live peacefully without vou. (The writer is emeritus member of the ISKCON governing body commission)