A couple of weeks back, I was traveling to Mumbai, a densely populated city on India’s west coast. It is the financial centre of the Indian subcontinent. It is a region, famous for its demographic diaspora.
Mumbai is also famous for its maze-like, super-cheap and robust railway connectivity. I remember I took a train from Kalyan to Bandra to visit a friend’s house. It was an hour-long journey. I wasn’t traveling alone. I was traveling with the friend himself. And we were discussing a lot of topics during the commute. One such topic was ‘homelessness’. Homelessness is the condition wherein people fail to arrange a safe, secure and stable habitat.
For a very long time, I have believed homelessness to be a manmade disaster. The reason was simple. In my opinion, anything naturally available and critically essential to human existence must be made into a basic human right. But, a quick google research tells me that is not the case with land! Internationally, no treaty or declaration specifically refers to a human right to the land.
Countering my left-wing socialist views, my friend argued with rationals. He made me calculate the total surface area of the land on earth. Using simple high school mathematics, a few basic calculations and a couple of obvious assumptions, I found this to be approximately 60,000,000 square miles. Of this, 33% is desert, 24% is mountainous and only the remaining is actually habitable. This leaves us with approximately 25,000,000 square miles of habitable land. Then I divided this by the approximate number of people living on earth. We found out that each person (irrespective of his or her age and gender) can have up to 2 acres of land to live on. Not to forget, this habitable land also includes the forests and therefore ain’t very beneficial. Now, if we also brought into consideration the land space required for farming, manufacturing and other essential constructions, we would be left with less than 1 acre of land per person. Also, every 3 seconds, a child is born and every 11 seconds a person dies. The ratio roughly turns out to be 4 to 1. With life expectancy increasing, the 11 seconds will rise and the 3 seconds will decline. “In other words, we have a severe land crisis bomb ticking on which is going to blast, if not now, very soon!” he concluded.
I did agree with his rationale to some extent. He had a valid point. But the socialist ‘me’ couldn’t settle with this. I argued for this unjust fallacy. When you think about it, the majority of our world works to pay their rent, or for a place to live in. But why? The land belonged to everyone equally in the beginning. It surely didn’t belong to the governments. And neither did it belong to any private entity. They didn’t create it. The land was created by nature, by God or whatever you’d like to call it. But somehow we have found the reasoning in being charged for what should be free unequivocally. We continue to be sheeple, thinking that money should be given in exchange for things that are rightfully free to all the living beings by default. And we have even developed rationales to justify this fallacy.
My friend cut me short again! “And where do you plan to build the factories? Where do the 6-lane highways lie? Where does your shopping mall stand? And where do we place this railway station?” my friend fired, pointing out of the window.
“And why do we need them? Why do we need shopping malls? Why do we need 6-lane highways? Can’t we live like people used to live in good old days? Can’t we have lived in our own parcel of lands and have grown just the amount of food we need to survive?” I argued back.
Bandra arrived pretty soon. And we had to get down. Of course, we didn’t talk on this anymore.
I don’t know who was right and who was not. But I still believe this thing. There doesn’t have to be homeless people, or people being evicted because the economy can’t sustain itself and provide jobs. There doesn’t have to be hungry people because the economy can’t produce enough.
However, as easy as they might seem, they are too idealistic to be followed in this pragmatic world. For that is why tough socialists have constantly failed and feeble capitalists have survived.
OMP Admin Note: Moinak Das is an aspiring writer and an impromptu storyteller. A curious wanderer as he is, you can expect any genre in his writings. So enjoy reading and let the ink of imagination flow.