• 02 October, 2022
Foreign Affairs. Geopolitics. National Security.

Growing Population- An Asset or a Burden?

oorja gund
Wed, 27 Jul 2022   |  Reading Time: 3 minutes

Being a citizen of a developing nation, we often admire the higher living standards and extensive growth rate of the developed western world, and desire to live in conditions like those. So, what is it that keeps pulling us from becoming a developed economy?

Despite being one of the youngest countries- with more than 62% of the population in the working age group (15-59 years), and the largest democracy in the world, India lags in indigenous manufacturing capabilities, R&D, and technological advancements. Although there are multiple factors leading to this condition, yet there is one problem which can be identified as the umbrella cause- The Growing Population.

According to the UN, India is going to surpass China in terms of population in 2023. There can be two viewpoints to this situation.

From one viewpoint- More people mean more competition over limited resources, which could disturb the societal balance of resources leading to a hike in demands for food, water, energy, healthcare and more. Following a chain reaction, it would impact the development and economy, and even contribute to ecological degradation due to exploitation of resources. Also, there can be serious healthcare impacts as the available medical facilities can support only upto a limit, which was evident during the pandemic. Overpopulation would also lead to higher competition for limited vacancies in jobs, in turn increasing unemployment, consequently giving rise to social instability. In case of India, this could further incite conflicts among the diverse cultural communities. Also, an unemployed population is more vulnerable to external radicalisation, which could be a threat to national security, especially for India, which is surrounded by rogue nations like Pakistan and China.

From another viewpoint- This large population could mean more manpower, leading to more growth, in turn bolstering the economy. This is what China has done by harnessing the potential of its population, turning the country into world’s factory and becoming the master of the global supply chain. But can India do the same? India has been struggling to employ its population in manufacturing hubs or factories due to lack of the required skillset in its workforce. There is a huge competition for job vacancies in India, but the aspirants lack the needed skills and training, and hence deem unfit for employment. And this is what makes India’s behemoth population more of a burden than an asset.

In India, less than 5% of the workforce has vocational training, compared to 26% of that of China. This makes it difficult to send this labour force to the fields. Thus, reforms in educational institutions should be done to provide practical knowledge to meet industrial requirements. Also, Indian population lags in significant computer knowledge and thus there is an immediate need of digital training to the people for future technological advancements of the country. A skilled population would be more productive and would prove to be a gamechanger in taking the country on the road to become an export dependent state from being an import dependent state, by boosting its manufacturing industry. This would successively contribute in countering adversaries like China by cutting off exports trade.

Hence, to utilize the strength of its growing population, India needs to invest in education, healthcare, skill development and digital literacy. It also requires to implement measures to improve gender parity in jobs and to prevent this discrimination in labour force participation from destroying the demographic dividend. Although, the government runs some ambitious programmes like Skill India and Digital India, yet there is a dire need for better implementation along with some necessary laws for population control to provide the nation a breathing space that it requires to function smoothly.


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Kalidan Singh

Aug 08, 2022
Yes, population. But culture (attitudes, values, mores, priorities, sense of decency, trust among people) gets in the way of producing anything of quality. Indigenous designs, production, process engineering are beyond sub-par. I recently saw the Royal Enfields in a foreign market. Terrible finish, zero innovation since WWII. Cut rate prices. There is not a piece of hardware, nor software, not an item of clothing, not one metal, not one machine, not one synthetic, not one thing manufactured (and designed in India) for which anyone will pay a premium. Everything is cut rate, low quality, entirely expendable. The problem is hardly that this situation exists. The problem is not only just that Indians seem not to know this. The problem is that Indians are in denial; ready to defend that India already is a super power without the capacity to manufacture anything of value. Ballywood and cricket, third rate slave-trader gemstones the size of dust produced by child labor - does not an economy make, never mind a super power. It is our culture; corrupt, transactional, tolerant of dishonesty. Social groups have people showing off about how they screwed the customers. There is something fundamentally wrong given the entire purpose of trade and business in India is hera-pheri, dishonesty, and the massive attempt to get away with looting and cheating the customer. If the Indian market was truly open, virtually all manufacturers would go out of business. A nation that sends boys to Ladakh, and then leaves them to fight with the Chinese soldiers with clubs and fists, should really not talk about being a serious power, and confront the causes of this miserable performance.

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