What will India, and the other South Asian countries, look like in 2025? There are two contrasting views on this, the optimistic and the pessimistic. The optimistic outlook is that India will achieve double-digit growth rates (Buiter and Rahbari 2011). South Asia too will experience strong growth, primarily due to India. The pessimistic outlook is that growth will be derailed by many transformational challenges the region faces. Which of these two outlooks will prevail? We examine this in a recent book called Reshaping Tomorrow (Ghani 2011).
The optimistic outlook
The optimistic outlook is based on the favourable structural trends including improved governance, the demographic dividend, the rise of the middle class, and the new faces of globalisation.
All countries in the region have an elected government for the first time since independence. Governance has improved in two ways that will enhance the politics of democratic accountability (Mehta 2003). The first is the diminishing importance of identity politics, and the second is that the rates of incumbency – the likelihood of a sitting legislator or state government being re-elected – are down. This is leading to governance that is more focused on development.
While China’s spectacular growth has already benefitted from demographic dividend, India is yet to do so (Figure 1). By 2025 India will be more populous than China. Its population will also be much younger. More than 10 million new workers will join the labour force, every year, for the next two decades. This is equivalent to the entire population of Sweden joining the labour force. The demographic dividend will benefit growth not only through the swelling of the labour force, as the baby boomers reach working age, but also due to society’s ability to save more because working age happens to be the prime years for savings, and the increased fiscal space that will divert resources from spending on children to investing in infrastructure and technology (Bloom et al 2011).
A massive shift towards a middle class society is already in the making. India’s middle class (daily expenditure of $10-$100 in PPP terms) will rise more rapidly compared to China, because Indian households will benefit more from growth than Chinese households, given the prevailing distribution of income (Kharas 2011). The size of the middle class will increase from 60 million in 2010 to more than one billion people by 2025 (Table 1). Growth, education, home ownership, formal-sector jobs, and better economic security are cause and consequence of an expanding middle class.
Figure 1. The demographic dividend and growth in GDP per capita 1980–2009
Source: World Development Indicators, 2010.
Notes: “Demographic Dividend” (DD) is calculated as the ratio: (working-age population)/(non-working age population)*100. Change in DD represents 2009 value minus 1980 value. Growth rate in GDP per capita uses GDP per capita in 2005 constant.
Table 1. South Asia’s middle class 2010–25
Source: Kharas (2011)
The world has already benefited from global capital flows and trade in goods. It is now the turn of trade in services and migration. Technology has enabled services to be digitised, transported, and traded, long distance, at low cost, without compromising on quality. Trade in services are the fastest growing component of world trade during the last two decades. India’s service export is growing at a much faster pace compared to goods export form China (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Service revolution
Global migration rates have been sluggish over the last 50 years. But this will change. Current demographic trends suggest a rapidly ageing population in OECD countries, and a young population in South Asia (Ozden and Parsons 2011). This generates powerful incentives for labour mobility, as well as unique opportunities for improved global efficiency. But there is an alternative outlook.
The pessimistic outlook
The pessimistic outlook is backed by equally strong arguments. History tells us that there are no more than a dozen countries that have managed to sustain an average growth rate of 7% a year for 25 years. Many have reached middle-income status, but very few have gone beyond.
Growth in the region could be derailed by lopsided spatial transformation, lack of entrepreneurship, large informal sectors, high levels of conflict, gender disparities, and deep pockets of poverty.
Rapid growth has produced billionaires in India. But, the broad character of the region remains agrarian and rural. This has more to do with the peculiarities of growth patterns -- services-led growth, which is more skill-intensive, compared to manufacturing-led growth, which is less skill-intensive, and the fragmented nature of transformation, than the pace of growth (Panagaria 2011). Slow growth in manufacturing despite rapid GDP growth should by itself not be a worry, provided it is not in the way of growth in employment opportunities for unskilled and low-skilled workers at decent wages in industry and services so that these sectors still manage to rapidly pull the underemployed workers in agriculture into gainful employment. With the changes in technology that have taken place, it is an open question whether labour-intensive industry will be able to survive and grow in the manner that the East Asian countries experienced.
Entrepreneurship is central to job creation. But South Asia has too few entrepreneurs. While India has a disproportionately high rate of self-employment and many small firms, this has not as readily translated into as many young entrepreneurial firms as could be hoped. Yet there is no question that entrepreneurship works. Formal-sector job growth has been strongest in regions and industries that have exhibited high rates of entrepreneurship and dynamic economies.
The informal sector remains overwhelmingly large and persistent (Figure 3). Around nine out of ten employees in India do not have formal jobs. What is worrying is that informal employment does not seem to disappear with rapid growth. There is a strong association between informality and poverty (Figure 4).
Figure 3. High concentration of informal jobs in South Asia
Source: OECD, 2009. World Development indicators 2010.
Note: Forty-eight countries with available data shown. Chart uses latest data on informal share of employment available (1995–99 or 2000–07). GDP prer capita is in 2005 constant PPP international $.
Figure 4. Strong association between informality and poverty
Source: OECD, 2009. World Development indicators 2010.
Note: Forty-five countries with available data shown. Chart uses latest available data on informal share of employment (1995–99 or 2000–07).
South Asia has experienced high levels of internal conflict (Figure 5). Most countries in South Asia are currently immersed in, or are just emerging from, conflicts of varying nature and scope, ranging from the recently ended civil wars in Sri Lanka and Nepal and insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan to low-level localised insurgency in India. The result is human misery, destruction of infrastructure and social cohesion, and death. The knock-on effects are huge (Iyer 2011).
Figure 5. High levels of conflict in the past decade in South Asia
Proportion of country-years in armed conflict, 2000–08
Source: Iyer (2011).
India, despite reaching middle-income status, is home to the largest concentration of poor people in the world. More than one billion people lived on less than $2 a day in 2005 in South Asia. Nearly 250 million children are undernourished and suffer from hidden hunger. Child mortality and malnutrition levels are among the highest in the world. More than one third of adult women are anaemic. One woman dies every five minutes from preventable, pregnancy-related causes. The share of female employment in total employment is among the lowest in the world.
What can be done?
Growth cannot be taken for granted. The link between demographics and growth is not automatic. A demographic dividend could morph into a demographic disaster, if people are not healthy, educated, and trained.
Globalisation also does not automatically engender growth. India needs the infrastructure – ports, transport, and communications – to take advantage of trade. This is not just about the shift away from agriculture and into industry and services. It is also about the transformation required to move into higher-quality goods and services.
Growth, however, is not an end in itself. Policymakers should not think of growth separately from inclusion. Increased income disparities should not be viewed as the price to pay for higher growth. A development response that aims to promote growth first and then deal with human misery later is not sustainable.
The demographic dividend is a time-bound opportunity. It provides policymakers an incentive to redouble their efforts to promote the skills of the working-age cohort so that it has the ability to contribute productively to the economy. Time is of the essence. Policymakers need to take action today to reshape tomorrow.
Disclaimer: This draws upon the work in Reshaping Tomorrow. The views expressed here are those of the author and not the World Bank.
Buiter, W and E Rahbari (2011), “Global growth generators: Moving beyond emerging markets and BRICs”, VoxEU.org, 22 April.
Bloom, David E, D Canning, and L Rosenberg (2011), “Demographic Change and Economic Growth”, in E Ghani (ed.), Reshaping Tomorrow, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ghani, Ejaz (ed.) (2011), Reshaping Tomorrow: Is South Asia Ready for the Big Leap?, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Iyer, L (2011), “Managing Conflict”, in E Ghani (ed.), Reshaping Tomorrow, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kanbur, R and M Spence (eds.) (2010), Equity and Growth in a Globalizing World, Washington, DC: World Bank.
Kharas, H (2011), “The Rise of the Middle Class”, in E Ghani (ed.), Reshaping Tomorrow, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mehta, PB (2003), The Burden of Democracy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Panagaria, A (2011), “Avoiding Lopsided Spatial Transformation”, in E Ghani (ed.) Reshaping Tomorrow, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pritchett, L (2006), “Let Their People Come: Breaking the Gridlock on Global Labour Mobility”, Washington, DC: Center for Global Development.
OECD (2009), “Is Informal Normal? Towards More and Better Jobs”, Paris: OECD.
Ozden, C and CR Parsons (2011), “International Migration and Demographic Divergence”, in E Ghani (ed.), Reshaping Tomorrow, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Zoellick, Robert, B (2010), “Democratizing Development Economics”, Lecture Delivered to Georgetown University, 29 September.
Tags: India, South Asia
India is a country where people from different cultures and religions live in harmony with each other. However, discrimination is done on the basis of a person’s gender, caste, creed, religion and economic status in many parts of the country. India of my dreams would be a place where there is no such discrimination. India has seen a lot of development in the field of science, technology, education as well as other spheres over the last few decades. I dream of India as a fully developed country that does not only excel in the aforementioned fields but also continues to keep its cultural heritage intact. Here are essays of varying lengths on ‘India of my dreams’ to help you with the topic in the school during exam or essay writing competition.
Essay on India of My Dreams
India of My Dreams Essay 1 (200 words)
India enjoys a rich cultural heritage. People belonging to various castes, creeds and religions live peacefully in this country. However, there are certain groups of people that try to incite people to serve their vested interests thereby hampering peace in the country. I dream of India that is devoid of such divisive tendencies. It should be a place where different ethnic groups live in perfect harmony with each other.
I also dream of India as being a nation where every citizen is educated. I want the people of my country to understand the importance of education and ensure that their children seek education rather than indulging in menial jobs at a tender age. Adults who have missed a chance to study during their childhood must also join adult education classes to seek education in order to find a better job for themselves.
I want the government to provide equal employment opportunities for all so that the youth get deserving jobs and contribute towards the growth of the nation. I want the country to become technologically advanced and see growth in all the sectors. Lastly, I want India to be a country where women are treated with respect and are given equal opportunities as men.
India of My Dreams Essay 2 (300 words)
India is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious society that has seen a steady progress in various spheres over the last century. I dream of India that progresses at an even greater pace and joins the list of the developed countries in no time. Here are the key areas that need attention in order to make it a better place:
- Education and Employment
I dream of India where every citizen is educated and is able to find a deserving employment opportunity. No one can stop the growth and development of a nation full of educated and talented individuals.
- Caste and Religious Issues
India of my dreams would be a place where people would not be discriminated on the basis of their caste or religion. This would go a long way in strengthening the nation.
- Industrial and Technological Growth
While India has seen both industrial and technological growth in the past few decades, it is still not at par with many other countries. I dream of India that advances technologically and sees a boom in every sector.
There is a lot of corruption in the country and its rate is only growing by the day. The common man is suffering at the hands of corrupt politicians who are only interested in fulfilling their own selfish motives. I dream of India that is free from corruption at all levels. It would be a place where the betterment of the country would be the sole agenda of the government.
- Gender Discrimination
It is sad to see how even after proving themselves in every sphere of life women are still considered to be inferior to men. I dream of India where there is no gender discrimination. It would be a place where men and women are treated as equals.
In short, India of my dreams would be a place where people feel happy and secure and enjoy good quality of life.
India of My Dreams Essay 3 (400 words)
India takes pride in being home to people belonging to different castes, creeds and religions. The country is known for its rich culture and unity in diversity. It has also seen a boom in various industries over the past few decades. However, we still have a long way to go. Here are some of the areas that we need to work on in order to make it an ideal nation:
There is a lot of economic disparity in the country. The rich here are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poorer by the day. I dream of India where wealth is equally distributed among the citizens.
Lack of education is one of the main hindrances in the growth of the nation. The government is making efforts to spread awareness about the importance of education. However, it should also take steps to ensure that each and every person in the country seeks education.
There is a lack of good employment opportunities in the country. Even those who are well-qualified fail to get deserving jobs. The dissatisfaction level among the unemployed lot is high and they often take the road to crime. I dream of India that provides equal employment opportunities for all so that each one of us works for the growth and betterment of our country.
Casteism is another major issue that needs to be worked upon. India of my dreams would be a place where people are not discriminated based on their caste, creed or religion.
- Gender Discrimination
India of my dreams would be a place where women are given due respect and treated as being equal to men. It would be a place where women safety would be of utmost importance.
I dream of India as being a place free of corruption. It would be a place where the political leaders would be dedicated towards serving the countries rather than fulfilling their own selfish motifs.
- Technological Growth
India has seen a rapid growth in the field of technology. I want it to grow at an even greater pace and attain newer heights to make its place among the first-rate countries.
I dream of India where people of different castes, creeds, religions, ethnic groups and economic/ social status live in perfect harmony with each other. There should be a fair play and government must ensure equal employment opportunities for all its citizens.
India of My Dreams Essay 4 (500 words)
India of my dreams would be a country where freedom of equality is enjoyed in its true sense. It would be a place where no discrimination is done on the basis of a person’s caste, creed, religion or social/economic status. I also dream of it as a place that sees abundance of industrial and technological growth. Here are some of the areas that particularly require attention:
Though more and more women are stepping out of their homes and making a mark in different fields there is still a lot of discrimination against women in our country. From female foeticide to restricting women to household tasks, there are a lot of areas that need to be worked upon. Many non-profit organizations have come forward to promote women empowerment. However, we still have to work a lot on changing the mindset of the society. I dream of India that sees women as an asset not a liability. I want it to be a place where men and women are treated as equals.
Though the government of India is making efforts to promote the significance of seeking education, many people in the country still don’t realize its importance. India of my dreams would be a place where education is made mandatory for all. The government must go a step further to ensure that no child in the country is devoid of education.
Many qualified youths in the country fail to get good employment opportunities. The opportunities are either limited or do not pay enough to the deserving candidates. This is mainly because of weak industrial growth. There are certain other factors such as reservation that bar the deserving candidates from getting good opportunity. Many of the youths who fail to get good employment opportunities in India fly abroad and put their minds to work for the economic growth of other countries while others roam around unemployed.
The country is still not completely free of discrimination on the basis of caste, creed and religion. It is sad to see how people belonging to the lower and weaker sections are even denied their basic rights in certain parts of the country. Besides, there are various fundamentalist and separatist groups that provoke people to propagate their religion and talk ill about the others. This often leads to unrest in the country. I dream of India where people are not discriminated based on their caste and religion.
Corruption is one of the main reasons why India is unable to grow at the speed at which it should. Instead of making an effort to serve the country, the political leaders here are busy filling their own pockets. I dream of India where the ministers are dedicated wholly and solely towards the development of the country and its citizens.
India of my dreams would be a country that sees all its citizens as equal and does not discriminate them based on any criteria. I dream of a place where women are respected and are seen equal to men. I also want India to see advancements in the field of science, technology, agriculture and education in the times to come.
India of My Dreams Essay 5 (600 words)
India is a country where people belonging to different ethnic groups, castes and religions live amicably. It boasts of a rich, variegated cultural heritage. Though colonised for a long period of time, India has come a long way ever since its independence. It has seen a huge social and economic growth over the last couple of decades. However, there is a lot of economic and social disparity in the county. People are also looked down upon because of their caste and religious preferences in many parts of the country. India of my dreams would be a place where every citizen enjoys true freedom of equality.
Areas of Improvement
There are a number of areas that our country still needs to work upon in order to grow and develop further. Here is a look at the four key areas that require immediate attention:
Education is the building block for any nation. One of the major drawbacks in our country is that people still do not recognize the importance of education. Those living in poverty or below poverty line particularly overlook the importance of getting educated. They do not realise that lack of education is one of the main factors responsible for their poverty. The Government is taking steps to ensure that more and more people have access to education by way of promoting the right of free and compulsory education for children and also by opening adult education schools. India of my dreams would be a place where every citizen is educated and skilled.
- Gender Discrimination
Gender discrimination is another issue that needs to be worked upon. While women are becoming aware of their rights and are doing well in various fields, they still have to fight a number of odds in order to make their place in the society. The birth of a girl child is still considered a curse in many parts of the country. Girls are not encouraged to go for higher studies. Even those who are well-qualified are expected to look after their family post marriage rather than working outside. At work, the wages paid to women are lesser than that paid to the men and the list of discrimination goes on. I dream of India that is devoid of discrimination against women.
- Technological Advancement
While India has seen a lot of growth and advancement in the field of science and technology, it still requires working harder in this sphere. It is sad to see how genius minds from the country fly abroad to seek employment opportunities and contribute to the technological and industrial advancements of those countries rather than contributing to the development of their own country. I dream of India that offers good employment opportunities to deserving individuals and together all work towards the further technological advancement of the country.
- Crime Rate
The crime rate in India is growing by the day. Numerous cases of rape, robbery, dowry and murder are reported each day and many others go unnoticed/unreported. Lack of education, unemployment and poverty majorly attribute towards this. India of my dreams would be a country where the government is more sensitive towards the safety and security of the people. It would be a place free from all kinds of crime and exploitation.
India has seen a rapid industrial growth, technological advancement and progress in several other fields over the last few decades. However, there is still a lot of scope for improvement. India was once called the golden sparrow because of the prosperity it enjoyed. I want the country to attain that glory yet again. I do not want it to enjoy just economic richness but also become richer culturally and socially. All the citizens of the country must be treated equally and there should be no discrimination or injustice.