I’ve done a lot of practical anthropology, living in villages with people and realizing how difficult it is to get out of poverty. When in poverty, people use their skill to avoid hunger. They can’t use it for progress.
Fame is a dangerous thing. It’s what the post-industrial society wants. They want fame and many followers on Twitter. But to really make the world understandable, that challenge is remaining.
I am not an optimist. I’m a very serious possibilist. It’s a new category where we take emotion apart and we just work analytically with the world.
To get away from poverty, you need several things at the same time: school, health, and infrastructure – those are the public investments. And on the other side, you need market opportunities, information, employment, and human rights.
Fame is easy to acquire; impact is much more difficult.
While teaching a course on global development at Uppsala University in Sweden, I realized our students didn’t have a fact-based worldview. They talked about ‘we’ and ‘them.’ They thought there were two groups of countries: the Western world, with small families and long lives, and the Third World, with large families and short lives.
Beyond 2050 the world population may start to decrease if women across the world will have, on average, less than 2 children. But that decrease will be slow.
My interest is not data, it’s the world. And part of world development you can see in numbers. Others, like human rights, empowerment of women, it’s very difficult to measure in numbers.
I am a toxico-nutritional neuro-epidemiologist. It’s the study of neurological disorders caused by a mixture of toxins and malnutrition using epidemiological methods… We are just three or four in the world, even fewer than sword swallowers.
I loved statistics from a young age. And I studied very much in Sweden. I used to be in the upper quarter of all courses I attended. But in St. John’s, I was in the lower quarter. And the fact was that Indian students studied harder than we did in Sweden. They read the textbook twice, or three times or four times.