I am frequently visiting various universities and educational institutions in Bharat to get an opportunity to interact with the students, scholars, intellectuals and academicians directly concerning the relevant topics of Bharat’s development. One of the most cherished dreams of every Indian is to see Bharat as a “Viswa Guru” not only from economic aspects but also from cultural, moral and ethical aspects too.Today, we have 37 crore growth engines which refer to the youth population of the country who fall in the age group from 15 to 29 years.
Growth Engines of Our Economy
According to the National Youth Policy 2014, India considers the population of the age group from 15 to 29 as youth. When the working population of a country is between 15 and 65 years, it is assumed to be the demographic dividend of that country. When a country has a population below the age of 15 and above 65, it is called the non-working population, who are economically dependent on others. At this juncture, our youth is to be considered as effective growth engines of our economy.
The demographic dividend stage in India started in 2018 and will continue till 2055. Of course, the dividend trend starts to decline from 2043. This period is high time for all the policymakers and social scientists to catch up on the demographic dividend in a very productive way for Bharat’s economic development.
According to the World Population Meter, the total population of the world is about 790 crores. Bharat stands with 138 crores of the population which shares 17 per cent of the world population. Among the total population, the working-age population in Bharat is the highest in the world at this point with a median age of 28 years. Therefore we are a young country. The median age for China is 38, for America it is 40, for Europe it is 46 and for Japan, it is 48. Naturally, the younger population is having more propensities to contribute to the country’s economic development. When a country is undergoing its demographic dividend phase, it is observed that its per capita income, as well as national GDP, is high. For example, Japan entered the demographic dividend phase in 1964 and continued till 2004. During this time, Japan has registered its GDP growth rate in a range of 6 per cent to 9.4 per cent. Today, the growth rate of Japan has stagnated at 2 per cent to 2.2 per cent, due to an increase in the old age population.
Similarly, Italy had the demographic dividend age during 1984-2002. The Republic of Korea has been growing impressively from 1987 and tends to continue till 2027 with double digits in GDP. Likewise, Spain had a demographic dividend phase for 23 years. China entered the demographic dividend phase in 1994 and will continue till 2031. During the early ’90s, China’s GDP growth rate registered at 8-9 per cent, and during the year 2000, China surpassed double-digit growth in GDP. Thus, it is observed that there is a direct correlation between demographic dividend and GDP growth.
Among the total population, the working-age population in Bharat is the highest in the world at this point with a median age of 28 years. The median age for China is 38, for America it is 40, for Europe it is 46 and for Japan, it is 48
The IMF working paper of 2011 found that the substantial foundation of the growth experienced in India since the late 1980s is attributed to the country’s age structure and changing demographics. As per the estimates by various economic agencies, India will have double-digit growth in 2021, subject to COVID-19 situations. It is estimated that during the third quarter of 2021, our GDP will register about 10 per cent. This can be attributed to the working-age population and demographic dividend at present time in our country.
Victor Hugo says, “Nothing can stop the idea whose time has come”. The time of Bharat has come at this juncture. If civil society and policymakers are not aware of the demographic dividend, they can’t be in a position to utilise the young minds in the constructive development of the economy. In such a case, we will lose the opportunity which is given by the demographic dividend. For instance, African countries do not have a favourable ecosystem, infrastructure, technology or R & D. Hence, they could not channelise the human resource for their economic yield. China, Japan, America and Europe have utilised their demographic dividend well. Now, it’s the time for Bharat to be alert to make sure to have an eco-system, proper infrastructure facilities, research and development activities, innovations and skills to prosper Bharat’s economy.
The most valuable thing in this world is skilled human-resource and not any materialistic or tangible items such as silver, gold or diamond. All these materialistic resources have limited economic value in nature as they cannot reproduce themselves. As per the renowned economist Julian Lincoln Simon book, The Ultimate Resource reveals that human ingenuity is a more important resource to economic growth than natural resources because skilled and working-age population growth is accompanied by the improvement in resource efficiency. A growing population will frequently support economic growth rather than hampering it. The skilled and efficient people shall innovate and bring substitutes to the exhausted resources. This is in line with the concept of colonising the Moon and Mars and erecting hotels in the middle of the sea. Humans can produce new resources once the existing ones are exhausted.
Bharat is fortunate to have that biggest development factor and resource in its youth, especially the core youth between the age group of 15 and 29, with the highest levels of energy, aspirations, ambitions and curiosity to innovate, research and development. They are highly productive and can become the growth engines to drive the economy of the nation. India’s youth population at present is 37 crores which form 34.23 per cent of the total population. China’s youth population is 27.83 per cent, in America, it is 25.69 per cent, in Japan it is 20.69 per cent. Among the big economies, we have the highest percentage of the youth population. Bangladesh has a 34-35 per cent working population, but its economy is not as voluminous as Bharat and other economies.
India’s youth population at present is 37 crores which form 34.23 per cent of the total population. China’s youth population is 27.83 per cent, in America, it is 25.69 per cent, in Japan it is 20.69 per cent. Among the big economies, we have the highest percentage of the youth population
This is a golden opportunity for Bharat to lead the world. If we miss this historic opportunity, the upcoming generations will be highly disappointed by us. Every country has its core strength. America’s strength lies in Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). A huge part of their income comes from patents and copyrights. China, the second-largest economy, earns from its low-cost manufacturing industry which makes it a 16 trillion-dollar economy. The strength of Japan is its automobile and electronics industry. Maruti Suzuki has a 64 per cent share in the Indian market. The fourth-largest economy, Germany, has its strength in high-tech engineering. Russia is powerful in defence manufacturing. They sold us an S-400 missile recently for a hefty amount of Rs 38000 crores. West Asia is rich in crude oil. Now the question arises, what is the core strength of Bharat? Is it a 165-billion-dollar IT and software industry or a 2 lakh crore agro-export? Forty per cent of the world’s rice export is sourced from Bharat. We are also a pharmacy hub of the world, exporting 20 per cent of the pharmacy products to the world. But, still, we consider our biggest strength is our 37 crore youth population. We should repose all our hopes in the strength of our youth. Now the million-dollar question is: how to make our youth into potential growth and productive engines?
The most significant factor is the desire and ambition of its people. If we are in a position to inspire their goal, we can become the world leader and torchbearer, not only in the economy but also in health, cultural values and environment as well. We have plenty of capacities to lead the world and we did it earlier. Professor Angus Maddison reveals that from 0 AD to 1500 AD, Bharat contributed to 33 per cent of the world’s GDP, because our economy was so strong, it was rural-based and decentralised, youth was encouraged towards entrepreneurship from the beginning. After the colonisation by Pathans, Turkish, Mughals, French, Dutch, and English, our economy crumbled. The country struggled for a thousand years to regain its glory.
Bharat Will become AatmaNirbhar
Today, our contribution to the world’s GDP is less than 4 per cent. It was not even 2 per cent in 1947 when we attained Independence. We had been at the top and now we can bounce back. We need to have strong willpower and a strategy to motivate the youth for entrepreneurship with innovative ideas. Concepts like GDP and employment are to be altered and reoriented as per Bharatiya context and the youth of this country has to be the job provider rather than a job seeker. And ultimately, it is we the responsible citizens of the country along with the professionals and academicians, who have to rise to the demand of the nation and ignite the spark among these 37 crore growth engines. It is high time to create awareness among our youth to become entrepreneurs and to create employment opportunities for the masses and future generations. In a way, they shall become self-reliant and thereby the country will become AatmaNirbhar Bharat.