- Abhay saxena
Since times immemorial, a country located choicely by nature in the beautiful stretches of southern Asia, has been reckoned as the land of knowledge. Seekers from around the world flocked there aspiring scholarly accompaniment of masters and sages. Indeed, India was an epitome of elderly wisdom. Those were good ancient days when our civilization flourished swiftly and the country evolved as the knowledge superpower. There was, however, a downside to this cultural revolution. A large proportion of Indian populace comprised of elderly with a dismal percentage of working youth. The regional polity, economics and social order were majorly dominated by aged groups and individuals leaving youth with limited opportunities. The mean age of Indians hovered in mid forties.
Now a cut to modern times – the statistical headlines reveal that India has world’s largest youth population. Every third Indian, today, is a youth and by an estimate, India shall become world’s youngest country by 2020, having median individual age of 29 years. Surveys indicate that 356 million Indians are 10 to 24 years old and we lead more populous China, which has only 269 million in that group, on this parameter.
We are in the middle of a dynamic transformation wherein burdens of our past are being fast replaced by rich demographic dividends. The most encouraging aspect of this transformation is the fact that our rising youth population is also growing more educated, more productive and more participative in socio-political processes. As seen in the general elections of 2014, youth voter played a decisive role in formation of government. Today’s Indian youth aspires for a quality life and does not refrain from working hard to attain this goal. With a multitude of options and alternatives in educational and career arenas, our youth population is set to turn around all economic indicators that hitherto reflected sluggish growth.
At international platforms, Indian youth is generally seen as a rich pool of talent. There is an opinion that Indians are quick to adapt to foreign socio-political environments and exhibit superlative professionalism and understanding of technologies and economics. Hiring of Indian students globally has increased manifolds in recent years. Today, international forums – educational, entertainment, cultural and political, to name a few – have bountiful attendance of India’s young guns, who are making lasting impressions on stakeholders and partners. Indeed, this is the best time to be an Indian belonging to working age group which is set to reach the figure of 64% of total population by year 2020. This demographic potential shall take Indian economy far ahead of those of entire Western world, Japan and even China, who are aging faster than us.
The future is bright but we also have some uphill tasks at hand, if we are to harness the fruits of our unique demographic potential. More than 20% of our urban population today earns less than a dollar a day. Levels of incomes have risen, but so have costs of living, making it difficult to enhance savings. Access to quality education and modern healthcare, especially for rural youth, is still inadequate. Among young women, maternity mortality is still on a higher side and their general health indicating rampant anemia is a telling sign of poor nutrition and food insecurity. Educational disparities still exist resulting in unequal access to livelihood opportunities.
There is a bright sunshine on the other side of tunnel, but we need to take prudent strides. Our governments – states and centre – need to take stock of things wisely and prioritize the desired outcomes. Youths are our greatest human resources and we must develop them to fullest for a widespread affluence. Transparency in political systems, affordable education and healthcare, conflict free socio-cultural amalgamations, employment of eco-friendly technologies and our country being a war-free zone hold the key for a smooth take off to prosperity where every Indian youth becomes an integral part of magnificence, which India is known for, since ages.