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Is India Ready to Cash on its Demographic Dividend?

Is India Ready to Cash on its Demographic Dividend?

 By  Manish Prabhat

Demographic transition creates a small window for countries to leverage their demographic dividend and leapfrog to a higher level of income-employment situation. This opportunity comes in the middle stage of demographic transition when the population pyramid shows signs of maturity and bulges in the middle, indicating a relatively larger share of youth or working age persons in total population, and hence a low dependency ratio. Consequently, countries can engage this human resource to augment its productive capacity. If sensibly utilised, this can raise per capita income level dramatically – pulling up the country to a substantially higher plane of living standards. However, the efforts will fall flat if this group of youth, on which so much depends, are not productive enough to enhance output significantly. Often questions are raised about the employability of the youth because of their inadequate education, training, and market ready skill and if the youth are not absorbed meaningfully into the workforce and are productive enough, this demographic dividend will turn into a demographic nightmare. Huge youth unemployment is the surest way to social tension, unrest, and unlawful activities. Hence to understand India’s readiness in this aspect we must look at the issue of education, skill formation and employment among youth in India. In this overview paper we find that current skill/training situation of youth in India is inadequate. Surplus and shortage coexists in the labour market indicating serious mismatch between supply and demand. There is an urgent need to relook at human resource development pattern in the country. It appears that a socioeconomic crisis is looming large and demographic opportunities will turn to threat unless intervened immediately.

To reap this opportunity, which comes once in the whole lifetime of a country, India is needed to make the youth of her country prepared. The investment done today for the training of youth will benefit the nation in terms of higher GDP and high standards of living. India can become the work hub of the world. A number of economists and scholars have pre announced that India will be the next superpower in the coming years. Their outlook is purely based on the demographic dividend phase of India. When the whole world lacks the necessary workforce, India will provide the workforce for them. Imagine! How big this thing is?

Various steps are needed to facilitate countries in leveraging their demographic dividend. Investments in education, health, and job creation are vital, as are policies that favour the fertility declines that have created and sustained the window. Policy objectives include the following.

  • Ensuring that infants receive good medical care.
  • Protecting women’s reproductive health (and enhancing their health knowledge, since they play the central role in the health of their families).
  • Stressing the health of children and teenagers, to improve educational performance.
  • Focusing especially on low-income populations, with strong public sector programs.
  • Reducing unwanted pregnancies since it benefits maternal health and family welfare and hastens the changes in age structure.
  • Improve human resource capabilities and create jobs to absorb the large numbers of teenagers coming into the workforce.
  • Encourage savings to generate productive capital.

Manish Prabhat studies at Kirorimal College, University of Delhi. A geographer, having the desire to explore the world. He is an avid reader and loves to observe the happenings around. Loves to think on issues affecting the society when alone. Other than that he is a civil service aspirant with a hope of changing the social perspective about the needs and rights of children. He believes in respecting all rather than a particular group of people.

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