Thursday, June 3, 2010

I am talking about us and our population!

While safely away as an NRI, I used to worry about the ever expanding population of India.
I had a notion that many of our problems stemmed from our uncontrolled growth in population! It seemed to be expanding in the same manner as the universe! While there is limitless space for this to happen in the cosmos, India I thought was limited in every way.

After my return, my worries about the exploding population were dismissed with disdain! I was told that our population was our strength. We were doing very well they said.

Wikipedia also says: 'The economy of India is the eleventh largest economy in the world by nominal GDP. and the fourth largest by purchasing power parity (PPP).'


Copied from Wikipedia.

It was also heartening that the percentage of the population below poverty line was dropping! All very encouraging. I still had niggling worries. I wondered about the real numbers of the Indian population during this period. In 1973-74 our population was 600 million and today it is around 1200 million. So in real numbers, about 300 million still live below poverty line!

(Seeing the way prices have shot up since we returned, I am sure that more and more of our people are pushed below the poverty line! I guess that the real figures will emerge much later.)

The impression I gathered as I spoke to people was that those who mattered and could make a change, were really not concerned! The collective wisdom of the aam janata appeared cynical. It opined that 'They, the politicians, do not want people to be better. They want them to be where they are, a mass or a mob that could be manipulated at will. Possible only if the people are kept ignorant and poor!'

To be honest it is not just the politicians, who are the least admired as a group, there are many more who harbour similar thoughts!

Then today I saw this article: Well worth reading. While I share his concerns, will we ever get down to it and do what is necessary? I am not so sure!

Demographic time-out by R Jagannathan Thursday, June 3, 2010 2:00 IST

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The demographic dividend that India is currently reaping is so much a part of accepted wisdom that we are in danger of becoming complacent about it. Loosely speaking, a country derives a demographic advantage when its working age population is rising, leading to growing demand, rising private consumption, booming government revenues....

......But there’s a big if to all this.The power of demography has to be harnessed through the right social and economic policies. There are five things we have to fix quickly: education, labour markets, economic policy, governance and corruption. If we don’t, the demographic advantage will turn out to be a curse. Just as there is nothing more useful than having a youthful labour force, there is nothing worse than having a disengaged and angry population that does not find meaningful jobs........

Read the full article.

http://www.dnaindia.com/opinion/column_demographic-time-out_1391204

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