Indian Population- Boon or Bane?
A United Nations report has revealed some startling facts.
By 2050, i.e in just next 36 years, India's urban population will surpass that of China. India is expected to have 404 million urban inhabitants while China is likely to have 292 million city population.
The statistics can either be India's strength or simply its Achilles'' heel.
While countries with teeming numbers worry about reining in the population, experts say it need not be seen as a problem.
Dr. George Mathew, Chairman of Institute of Social Sciences, said, "Our schools, colleges, etc. can generate enormous human resources which many countries are lacking, including China."
As China, Japan and many other countries face an aging demographic profile, India's population is younger and projected to stay that way for the next 30 years.
By 2020, the average age of India's population will be just 29 years, compared to 37 in China.
And that's expected to give India a competitive advantage.
26-year-old Ashim Jolly is an example of this. Having studied in the United States and worked with blue chip companies there, he saw a window of opportunity to return home in 2011.
He opened up a cell phone applications development venture in New Delhi.
"I think I am certainly very happy moving back to India. Twenty-nine only points that we are going to be very very younger generation going out and taking on newer challenges, which when, I think statistics also say- with age there are changes that happen. So, when you go beyond a certain age and certain things and challenges that you don't want to hop on to. When you pass the thirty mark and you have responsibilities, you have family, you don't plunge into challenges that enrisk that you would have otherwise taken at an early age. I think it really points to the fact that we are going to be hitting ourselves against some really things our way, which probably other geographies might have to think twice about taking those challenges," said the young entrepreneur.
Even as this demographic makes it attractive for multinational companies to do business in India, it also provides them a hinterland to sell their products.
Between 2006 and 2011, consumer spending in the country almost doubled, from 549 billion USD to 1.06 trillion USD.
But in order for India to reap the benefits of population growth, it needs to be able to harness the abilities of its people.
According to Prof Moneer Alam of Population Research Centre, "young people, who aspire and want to do something, very unfortunately they are not properly trained. Even if they are trained, the quality of training given is not that good. The quality of education that we get in our universities is not really that good. Many of our youth are not really trained in employable occupations."
And if this boon turns into a burden, there can be big risks, like lack of jobs that can snowball into social unrest.
Analysts believe that India's growing population can be a double-edged sword and the country needs to put in place the right policies to maximise the potential of its people by enhancing the state of education, health and infrastructure, so that India figures at better in various human development rankings.
(Posted on 11-07-2014)