India's Population Committee: Demographic Insights

  Mar 04, 2024

Deep Dive: India's Population Committee and the Demographic Dividend

India's Demographic Landscape:

India recently surpassed China as the world's most populous nation, with an estimated 1.428 billion people in 2023. This large population presents both opportunities and challenges. Notably, India boasts a young demographic, with around 68% of its population falling within the prime working-age group (15-64 years). This presents a unique window of opportunity to leverage a demographic dividend, a period of potential economic boom due to a high ratio of working-age adults to dependents.

The Committee's Focus:
The proposed high-powered committee on population aims to address two critical aspects of India's demographic landscape:

Extending the Demographic Dividend: While India currently enjoys a young population, experts warn that the window to maximize the benefits of the demographic dividend is limited. The committee will explore strategies to extend this period, potentially by:

Encouraging higher female labor force participation: This could unlock the potential of a currently underutilized segment of the workforce.
Investing in education and skill development: Equipping the workforce with relevant skills can enhance their productivity and economic contribution.
Addressing Rapid Ageing: As India transitions to an older population in the coming decades, the committee will also delve into strategies to mitigate the challenges associated with an ageing population. This might involve:

Strengthening social security systems: Ensuring adequate support for the elderly population is crucial.
Promoting healthy ageing initiatives: Encouraging healthy lifestyles and preventive healthcare can improve the well-being of older adults.

Fertility Rate Disparities and Potential Strategies: The committee might also examine the issue of uneven fertility rates across different Indian states. While the national Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has dipped below the replacement level (2.1 children per woman), there are significant variations between states. Southern states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have lower TFRs compared to central states like Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The committee might explore:

Understanding the reasons behind these disparities: Analyzing the factors influencing fertility patterns across states is crucial for effective policy formulation.

Targeted incentives for states with lower fertility rates: The committee might consider offering incentives like improved healthcare or education facilities to encourage childbirth in these states, but emphasizes that there are no plans for coercive population control measures similar to China's one-child policy.
Looking Ahead:

The committee's work will be critical in shaping policies to:

Maximize the benefits of India's demographic dividend: By extending this period and ensuring effective utilization of the workforce, India can potentially achieve significant economic growth.
Prepare for an ageing population: Proactive measures can help mitigate the challenges associated with an older population and ensure the well-being of all citizens.
The committee is expected to begin functioning after the presentation of the full budget, anticipated around July 2024, following the general elections. Its recommendations will be closely watched, as they hold the potential to significantly impact India's future trajectory.


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