Mohan Guruswamy writes how demographics will favour India: “In 2020 India will have more than 270 million people in the 15 to 35 age segments, when productivity and economic contribution is the highest. If savings rates hold and with productive potential at its peak in 2020 and we will have a great window of opportunity to make it as a developed and prosperous economy by 2050.”
Will India exploit this opportunity? Not by the way things are:
The appropriations on health, education and welfare have now cumulatively dipped to about 6% of our GNP, dropping from 6.4% in the previous year. We have just earmarked Rs 75,389 crores for education (center and state governments) which at 2.9% of GDP represents a contraction from the previous years actual expenditure of 3.1%. The total amount spent by the central and state governments on healthcare is Rs 33,915 crores or just 1.3% of the GDP.
Consider this, if we de-subsidise just milk and domestic gas, it will fund the health care and education of many millions who do not get anything from the State now. If we just do away with the so-called fertilizer subsidy of Rs 7,000 crores, which really is a gift to the high cost domestic fertilizer industry, we will in effect double what we spend of irrigation at present. This will create millions of new jobs in the rainfed areas where the majority of Indians below the poverty/hunger line live.
Similarly if food subsidies totalling about Rs 21,000 crores, which actually are subsidies to middle and large farmers, mostly in Punjab, Haryana, coastal AP and western UP, India’s infrastructure will look entirely different in just a few years. But will Parliament ever be able to discuss this seriously, given its class composition and pre-occupations?