India was once called a golden bird, not just because she had a lot of gold, but because India was a leader in trade, education, philosophy, spirituality, you name it and India was there. In fact, India and China held a share of almost half of the world’s GDP until 1700 AD.
So what happened then?
Well, India was colonized and countries like the United Kingdom, France and Germany grew during the industrial revolution whereas India and China lagged behind. Then we saw the dominance of the United States, Russia, and Japan because of their technological advancements during the twentieth century.
But now the trend is changing once again. India and China are coming back to their old glory. In fact, Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) had predicted that India’s economy could grow from 2.7 trillion dollars in 2018 to 10 trillion dollars by 2030. So, by the time a kid in kindergarten joins college, India’s economy would be more than times as big. India’s global GDP ranking in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) term by 2050 is estimated to be second only to China, even leapfrogging the mighty USA.
But, why does India stand out among other countries despite having so many problems and challenges?
The answer lies in something that Indians always used to think as a liability, its population, especially the young population. About 800 million people in India are under the age of 35, which makes almost 65% of India’s population and this is at a time when the world is actually aging. India’s median age is 27 years, while of the USA is 38 years, Japan and Germany are tied at the top spot with 46 years and even China stands at 37 years. So, China actually got old before it could get rich. This high concentration of young people in India can potentially fuel India’s growth.
But what does youth actually bring?
Not only a lot of people in the working-age contribute to the economic output of the country but they also act as consumers and drive the economic demand which helps the businesses to grow. But more importantly, what youth brings is new ideas, new energy, new ways of working and sometimes even a paradigm shift. And we have seen the change that can be brought by startups run by young and talented people with Google and Facebook as examples, which have just changed the way we live and work.
So, how can India make sure that her youth is actually a demographic dividend and not a demographic bulge?
In simple words, its an asset and not a liability. India needs to give her youth an environment that they can thrive in. They want opportunities, good education, and quality of life. They want the freedom to pursue their passions, they want to be entrepreneurs, and they want to make a mark in this world. These aspirations are a little different from the ones the earlier generation had. Financial stability and job security are not enough for some.
Along with this, the employment landscape is undergoing a major shift. We are now witnessing what is referred to as the Industrial Revolution 4.0. It was, in fact, the most talked about thing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The previous Industrial revolutions were the set of changes that got sparked when the steam engine came, or when the electricity came or when computing came. But this time, it is going to be much bigger and faster than the previous ones. The reason is the emergence of new groundbreaking technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, 3D Printing, Blockchain, Quantum Computing and many more. And they all complement each other to give an enormous effect. They will have the ability to change the way we live & work and mind you that the growth is exponential in nature.
Whenever we had an industrial revolution or a rapid industrial change, debates about unemployment have been there. A Mckenzie report, which came in December 2017, estimated that between 400 million and 800 million individuals could be displaced by automation and will need to find new jobs by 2030 around the world. But the fact is that automation and new technologies would eventually create more jobs than it would destroy. The problem, therefore, is not of job destruction but of job displacement. These new jobs would be fundamentally different from the ones it destroys and would require a different set of skills. So, there would be both winners and losers in this economic wave eventually.
Whenever there is this rapid change, the talk is about adaptation. Charles Darwin said ‘ It’s not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent but the one most responsive to change’. If India has to stay afloat in these changing times, she needs to change the way she thinks and educates her kids. Education is going to be a key driver of growth in this new age.
‘ It’s not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent but the one most responsive to change’.
According to Einstein, ‘The goal of education is not to fill your minds with facts and information but it is to train your mind to think’. And Socrates added ‘ That all thinking begins with wonder’. That wonder is the inquisitiveness that we all have when we are children to understand the world but somehow gets lost over time. India needs to encourage kids to be curious and inculcate skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity which are going to be the most important skills in this age of automation. Ideas are more powerful than mere facts.
India has a great potential to grow, provided she invests in developing her people and eventually if every Indian comes together to work for India’s development, India would certainly be called the golden bird once again.