News / Asia

    India Challenged to Provide Jobs, Education to Young Population

    Commuters make their way on the platform at the Churchgate train station during the morning rush hour in Mumbai, India, October 31, 2011.
    Commuters make their way on the platform at the Churchgate train station during the morning rush hour in Mumbai, India, October 31, 2011.
    Anjana Pasricha

    As the world hits the 7 billion population mark, much attention is focused on India, which will surpass China to become the world’s most populous country in less than two decades.

    The population growth will mean a nation full of working-age youth, which economists say could allow the already booming economy to maintain momentum. But educating this next generation, keeping it healthy and employed also could be a steep challenge.

    Thirty-year-old Ravinder Pande works as a chauffeur for a  businessman in New Delhi earning $200 a month. He has migrated to the Indian capital from neighboring Uttar Pradesh state, which the United Nations believes will be home to the world’s 7 billionth baby, born on October 31st.   

    Pande said he made virtually no money working on the small farm he owned and could not find any other work close to his village.

    Need for skilled manpower

    With nearly 200 million people, Uttar Pradesh is one of India’s most crowded and impoverished states, with few industries.

    Fortunately for Pande, an economy racing ahead at about eight percent is creating new jobs in emerging hubs like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.  

    Chandrajit Banerjee heads the Confederation of Indian Industry.

    “There will be a demand for skilled manpower in every level, starting from a white collar right down to whatever you need, be it a carpenter to an auto mechanic to a driver… you have a whole range of requirements that are coming up and shall come up over a period of time,”   said Banerjee.

    These jobs are critically needed in a country expected to hit the one-and-half-billion mark around 2025. It will be one of the world’s youngest countries. By the end of the decade the average age of an Indian will be 29. This “youth bulge” will last until 2050.  

    Services versus manufacturing

    Economists say this is a chance for India to reap what is called a “demographic dividend” - an opportunity to harness the skills and talents of young people in a growing economy at a time when most countries have aging populations.

    However there are huge concerns. Economists say current rates of growth, although high, may not create enough jobs. The country will add a staggering 10 million people to the workforce every year, in the next two decades.

    Well known Indian author and columnist Gurcharan Das said the farming sector, where two thirds of the country works, is in a state of decline and earnings are meager.

    The services sector, led by information technology, is fueling India’s boom, but not adding jobs on the scale that is needed.

    “What is concerning is that our economy is fired by services, not manufacturing. At least it is not the low-tech labor intensive manufacturing, which creates lots and lots of jobs, for example as China is doing or other counties in Eastern and South East Asia have done. Our real challenge is to creating a manufacturing and industrial revolution. We need to create far more jobs and you cannot expect services alone to do that,” said Das.

    Other key challenges lie ahead. The public education system is not only failing to keep pace with surging demand, but is often of poor quality. This has led to fears that much of this young workforce will not gain the skills needed to power the economy.

    For example, chauffeur Pande said he wants his two children to acquire skills that will help them do better jobs than driving. But he has left them behind in the village because he cannot afford housing for his family in the city.

    Pande is not optimistic about how they will fare in the village. He said teachers often do not take classes in the village school. He is unsure if they will achieve success in their studies or get opportunity to tap their talents.    

    Cultivating vocational skills

    The Confederation of Indian Industry, with the government, is expanding programs to give vocational skills to young people. But the Confederation’s head, Banerjee, said the need is huge.

    “If you are unable to train with targets of like 500 million people, which the prime minister talked about, if you are not able to achieve that, all of this would be unemployed youth because they are unemployable in terms of today’s standards. And that can become a disaster and it could even have a huge negative social impact… so we have no choice but to focus on skilling,” said Banerjee.

    A 2008 report by the Boston Consulting Group has warned that failure to make India’s young people productive will mean that the country will have an army of young people left behind.

    The other big concern is health care. In Pande’s home state, Uttar Pradesh, infant mortality and malnutrition rates are high. It is not the only region that faces this problem. Nearly half of India’s children under five are malnourished. The school dropout rate also is high.

    Sarah Crowe, spokesperson for the United Nations Children's Fund in New Delhi warns that these twin problems “could keep India back.”       
    “That child is unable to really grow to its ability and will remain in a state of stunting, and not be able to learn when it goes to school, and indeed later earn and really pay back into the economy, and help the country and region move forward," said Crowe. "Out of 200 million children who start school, only 10 percent complete grade 12, so that again means that potential is not being fully met.”  

    Policymakers admit the clock is ticking away. Others warn that India needs to step up investments in health care and education to ensure that its demographic dividend does not turn into what some call a demographic liability.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora