Let’s make our population an asset!

“Our masses will not let us down if we don’t let them down.”

- Dr.K.Venkatasubramian, Former Member of the Planning Commission.

It is a well known fact that the population of India is the most striking feature of the nation. Most of the times, we look at this feature as a liability rather than an omen of optimism because of its ever increasing lineament. The count of India’s population, released on the World Population Day marked its population to be 1.27 billion, indicating a tremendous growth of 1.37% annually from 1.99 % in 1960. The global population has increased 3 times during the last century while the increase in population, India witnessed, is over 5 times. This detonating population growth is conventionally considered to be a downer to the development of the economy with much pressure on the land leading to its detriment. But what must be looked into is the demography of India and its impact. Understanding that demographic acceleration and deceleration can have a wide impact on the economic development of a nation is where the determination of whether India’s population is an asset or a burden starts. The dependency ratio, i.e, the ratio of the population working outside the working age group relative to the population within the working age group is a key indicator to help learn the dynamics of population growth and its consequences. A lower dependency ratio makes the nation’s savings rise in turn giving a boost to the investment ratio which leads to more productivity, ultimately making way to better development. Reports and research have shown the declining pattern in the age dependency ratio thereby conferring two significant features, a large working population and the growth of the saving habits among the population. Both these factors are irrefutable factors of optimism in the population growth.

India has the youngest population in the world with a mean age of 24 years, in a globe that is senescing quite rapidly. This large young population is the most vital factor of efficiency and dynamism; and the very forte of the economy of India. Educating the masses, skilling them, and generating employment for them is the prime concern and activity of the Government. This process of education and skilling of the working population can be defined as the cause for a booming developed nation. And this is no esoteric theory. Earlier, albeit the Government’s positive contribution to the education sector of the nation, sharpening the skill of the employees was not up to par. Skill development is very essential for bringing about the fullest potential of the working population. With the current Government’s induction of a Ministry of Skill development and Entrepreneurship and its allocation of a large sum towards the higher education sector, the issue of skill development is also being addressed and improved. With regard to the growth of the saving trend, India has witnessed a consistent growth rate in the Gross Domestic Savings Rate from a 9.2% in 1951 to a 33.7% in 2011. The rise in savings does help us ascertain that this increasing population is definitely a boon to our economy.

With these positive indicators embellishing the role of an increasing population, it must, however not be ruled out that India’s population which is larger than that of US, Brazil, Japan, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh combined is also a warning to the Government and civil society to create conditions that will help this large population be a force multiplier of prosperity.

Every worker/ employee requires some amount of recognition and respect towards his job, irrespective of whatever the nature of his job is, in order to encourage himself to do better and work harder. The willingness to work harder leads to the tendency to save more. More savings leads to a boosting investment, in turn leading to a productive economy. Hence, it is very important to promote dignity of labor in our nation. Every job must be treated with respect and dignity that will not only advocate for more work and job creation but also decrease the large gap between the rich and the poor (which is indubitably a hindrance to the development of the economy). The Government must take up steps and measures on whose implementation the dignity of labor is upheld and promoted among every section of the society so that the flow of money and power into the pockets of a few people would be curbed.

Further, India produces enough food to feed its entire people but yet the irony lies on millions still going hungry due to a hapless distribution policy and a saddening scenario of food grain wastage estimated at 40–60%. Cutting wastage has been on the manifestos of many political parties and successive governments but the implementation of the same promise is what is profoundly questionable.

A large population is not a bad sign. It is in fact the strength of the nation. It is what makes India the largest democracy in the world. But uncontrolled growth of population that is seen to pollute the essence of the economy is just a challenge that can be tackled the right way. And once the need for such population is recognized and measures are taken to develop them into potential workforce with due respect given to each one of them, the first step into entering the world of Developed Nations is earmarked.