Thursday, September 17, 2015

Commentary - India's Demographic Dividend

A recent news headline says- Uttar Pradesh: Engineers and PhDs among 23 lakh applicants for 368 peon positions. And the headline seems to say it all! There was a time not long ago when India’s fast growing population was seen as one of its gravest problems. Of late, the population burden has begun to be seen as a ‘demographic dividend’ or an asset especially as while the ratio of working [or capable of working] youth in the Indian population is on the increase, nations like Japan and China will soon be burdened with a greater ratio of unproductive ageing population competing for resources with the working youth. As many other nations grow older, India is getting younger by the day. 

True, in many parts of India, government jobs are seen as secure and permanent and also less challenging. But the figures quoted by the UP news story is hardly explained by the cultural bias. The question is – is India ready for a virtual invasion by millions of youth seeking jobs in the next few decades? The elephant is no longer knocking at the door. It is sitting sprawled out in the living room asking us the question – are the 23 lakh [2.3 million] applicants to be seen as ‘human capital’? Among the 23 lakh applicants, 255 happen to be PhDs. In case in doubt over the enormity of the problem, another linked headline will leave you clear-headed - The Better Educated You Are in Bihar, the Likelier You Are to Be Unemployed.

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