Day 43 – Q 4.What is the demographic window of opportunity for India? Are we on the right track to make full use of this window? Critically examine.
4. What is the demographic window of opportunity for India? Are we on the right track to make full use of this window? Critically examine.
भारत के लिए जनसांख्यिकीय अवसर की खिड़की क्या है? क्या हम इस विंडो का पूर्ण उपयोग करने के लिए सही रास्ते पर हैं? समालोचनात्मक जांच करें।
Demographic window of opportunity is said to be occurring when the ratio of the working age population is high and the dependency ratio in terms of proportion of children and elderly people low. This advantage can create the space needed to increase investments in enhancing human capabilities, which, in turn, can have a positive influence on growth and development.
A study on demographic dividend in India by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) throws up two interesting facts. One, the window of demographic dividend opportunity in India is available for five decades from 2005-06 to 2055-56, longer than any other country in the world. Second, and more interesting, is the fact that this demographic dividend window is available at different times in different states because of differential behaviour of the population parameters.
- India has entered a 37-year period of demographic dividend, which could spell faster economic growth and higher productivity.
- As such, the government needs to engineer its policies to harness the opportunity.
- It must also formulate policies to take care of higher medical costs as the population ages and productivity shrinks.
- As more people live away from their parents, India will also need to have an affordable social security system that provides pension to the elderly and takes care of their daily needs and medical expenses.
India’s step towards reaping the benefits of its demographic dividend:
- Education: India is home to the world’s largest concentration of illiterate people in the world. It has made gains in human development, but challenges remain, including big barriers to secondary schooling, low-quality public services, and gender discrimination. The draft National Education Policy 2019 provides for reforms at all levels of education from school to higher education. It seeks to increase the focus on early childhood care, reform the current exam system, strengthen teacher training, and restructure the education regulatory framework.
- Providing Skills: According to the National Sample Survey, out of the 470 million people of working age in India, only 10% receive any kind of training or access to skilled employment opportunities. Recent initiatives such as “Skill India Mission” aim to train and create an employable skilled talent pool of 500 million people by 2020.
- Nutrition mission: Key nutrition-specific and sensitive interventions such as exclusive breastfeeding, complementary feeding and micronutrient supplementation are the need of the hour. Steps taken by govt: POSHAN Abhiyan: POSHAN Abhiyan is government’s multi-ministerial convergence mission with the vision to ensure attainment of malnutrition free India by 2022. It is focusing on ensuring the nutrition of children, women, and pregnant mothers in impoverished areas and the government seems to be looking at community management of the problem.
- Employment: Lack of jobs combined with a demographic dividend will increase the share of the population that is dependent on the working population. This will increase the economic insecurity of the elderly, as there will be fewer people generating wealth. Various schemes of govt to generate employement are MGNREGA, Start up India, Stand up India, MUDRA Bank, Din Dayal Upadhyay Gramin Kaushal Yojana, Self employment and talent Utilisation (SETU), Atal Innovation Mission, Make in India etc.
- Human capital: Investing in people through healthcare, quality education, jobs and skills helps build human capital, which is key to supporting economic growth, ending extreme poverty, and creating more inclusive societies.Various schemes of govt to develop human capital are Rashtriya Ucchatar Siksha Abhiyan (RUSA), National Research Proffessiorship, PMSSY, Janani Suraksha Yojana, Mission Indradhanush, National Ayush Mission, Skill India Mission etc.
Technological change is making labour partially or wholly redundant in a number of sectors, across the world. Even where labour is still necessary, increasing complexity of production requires labourers to have a minimum skill level that is much higher than the skill level required during the labour-intensive output boom in China and South-East Asia in the past decades. Also, an alarming aspect of the current employment situation is that a large proportion of employees are not in a very happy situation. According to a study, nearly 40% of employed people are not satisfied with their job profiles. The major reasons for dissatisfaction cited are unsecure jobs, low salaries, stressful environment, and mismatch between job and qualification.
Another appalling concern is that a significant proportion of qualified women drop out of the workforce for reasons ranging from no suitable jobs in the locality—particularly in rural areas—to family responsibilities and marriage.
This is not only a huge loss of valuable human resource, but also has a deleterious impact on family incomes. The government of India had launched an initiative called Skill India to equip millions of people with basic blue collar skills. Even here the results will take time because the quality of primary schooling in India is very poor.
The more one thinks about it, the more difficult it is to see how India will be able to reap the benefits of a demographic dividend. A period of mass unemployment and social unrest is looming unless there is a shift, both internal and external, that at the moment is nowhere to be seen.
- To be able to harness the potential of this large working population, which is growing by leaps and bounds, new job generation is a must. The nation needs to create ten million jobs per year to absorb the addition of young people into the workforce.
- UNFPA advocates a differential approach in forward-looking policymaking and programme planning to harness the demographic dividend opportunity. For example, the focus in the states where the window is closing soon will have to be on ageing and migrant-friendly policies and programmes, while the focus in the states where the window is open and will close in the next 10-15 years will have to be on empowering girls and women, provisioning of health, education and skill development for young people, and employment generation. The focus in the states where the window is yet to open will have to be threefold—addressing harmful practices such as child marriage, access to quality sexual and reproductive health services and family planning services to all, and provisioning of health, education, life and vocational skills to all the young people.
- Improved infrastructure, skill development, access to easy finance, reducing barriers to entrepreneurship and forums for mentorship of emerging entrepreneurs in partnership with corporates are some of measures.
- The current situation calls for more and better schools, especially in rural areas. It also calls for better transportation links between rural areas and regional urban hubs.
- The government must also ensure better quality of jobs with a focus on matching skill-sets and job opportunities.
- There is a need to look into these qualitative issues of job satisfaction, job profile and skill matching, and the creation of opportunities for entrepreneurship in order to be able to harness the vast potential of human resources.
Fine-tuning the planning and implementation of schemes and programmes by factoring in population dynamics is likely to yield greater socio-economic impact and larger benefits for people.