NEW DELHI: In five years from now, in 2020, the average age of India’s population would be around 29 years, perhaps among the lowest in the world.
While global economy is expected to witness a shortage of young population of around 56 million by 2020, India will be the only country with a youth surplus of 47 million. To use this demographic dividend, the Economic Survey, 2015, released on Friday, says, “India would need is that these ‘surplus’ young people are healthy, suitably educated, and appropriately skilled to contribute optimally to the economy.”
The Economic survey took into account the projected average age of population in 2020. The average age of 29 years has already been surpassed in some states like Kerala (33 years), Goa (32.3), Tamil Nadu (31.3), Himachal Pradesh (30.4), Punjab (29.9), Andhra Pradesh (29.3) and West Bengal (29.1).
Survey says due to substantial fertility decline in the south during the last two decades, the south is ahead in the demographic transition compared to the north, according to the Economic Survey 2014-15.
There are challenges galore to use this demographic advantage. Referring to the educational challenges, Economic Survey pointed out that total enrolment in primary schools has declined in 2013-14 while upper primary enrolment has grown. This is in line with the demographic changes in the age structure. However, the overall standard of the education system is well below global standards. “The single most significant finding of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is that learning levels across the country, whether in public or private schools, have not improved. Clearly, the policy prescription lies in shifting attention away from inputs to outcomes and focus on building quality education and skill development infrastructure. The Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat initiative to create a base for reading, writing, and math fluency is a good step in this direction,” the survey said.
Expressing concern over decline in the child sex ratio (CSR), the survey said that new scheme, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao aimed to address the declining CSR through a mass campaign targeted at changing social mindset and creating greater awareness.
Besides Swachh Bharat Mission, Mission Indradhanush launched in December 2014 will cover all children by 2020 who are either unvaccinated or are partially vaccinated against seven vaccine-preventable diseases. The erstwhile Department of Ayush (Ayurveda,Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddhi,and Homoeopathy) has now been elevated to a full-fledged Ministry.
The 2014 Human Development Report (HDR) presents the Human Development Index (HDI)-values and ranks-for 187 countries. India’s HDI value for 2013 is 0.586, ranking it 135 out of 187 countries and territories, the lowest among the Brics countries with Russia at 57, Brazil at 79, China at 91, and South Africa at118, and slightly ahead of Bangladesh and Pakistan.