Monday, March 28, 2011


India is big.
I knew this, of course, that it is the second largest country in population, that it's an enormous landmass, that it is jam-packed.
I knew this, but I didn't know this.  Not until I saw it.  Just one very small part, one tiny piece.  And started thinking about how the tiny piece was just a very small portion of a much much larger whole.
Numbers can be overwhelming, even to a professional mathematician.  We can perceive small numbers well: up to six or seven with easy, and with training we can appreciate quantities on the order of tens or hundreds quite easily, if approximately.
Once we get into the thousands or tens or hundreds of thousands, even appreciating the order of magnitude gets to be more difficult.
Consider then, that India has more than 17% of the world's population, at almost 1.2 billion people.  I didn't realise that it was quite that big, nor that it is projected to overtake China within ten or fifteen years.
What does 1.2 billion mean?  Half of the population is under 25, so that's 600 million under 25. More than 400 million of school age.

Of those 400 million, over half will drop o
ut prior to their eighth year of school.  Nearly forty percent will have already dropped by the age of ten!  That's 160 million children under the age of ten who have already quit school.

Let me put that figure in perspective: in India, there are more children under the age of ten who have dropped out of school, than there are people in all but six countries!

Yours, still staggering under the magnitude of the figures.

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