Home ministry worries about young and jobless workforce
Bad governance and too many expectations would become a cause of concern, it says
United States President Barack Obama has patted India for its increasing youth population and economists the world over believe that a staggering 51 percent youth in 1.21 billion people can turn India into an economic powerhouse. But, the security establishment in the country is worried exactly for these reasons. It has warned that the rising youth population of India could create an internal security challenge.
At an internal seminar conducted by the Indian Army think-tank Centre for Land Warfare Studies in March to discuss strategy for internal security, Home Secretary GK Pillai asked whether the youth bulge can prove an asset or is it a demographic disaster.
The minutes of the seminar quote him as saying that in the wake of rising expectations in the coming years, India is expected to be more turbulent.
“We do not have an internal security strategy mainly because of several conflicting views on the subject. Things, however, are improving and ways and means will be found to effectively tackle the challenge,” he said.
He added that the youth bulge coupled with several non-military security threats in the form of bad governance, illegal migration, cyber terrorism, environmental degradation, climate change, organised crime and counterfeit currencies, was a perfect recipe for disaster.
He said, “People’s expectations have been increasing. Illegal migration in the long run will pose a very serious challenge. For instance, by 2030 when Bangladesh gets affected by climate change, many of the affected people may come to India. As a result of the environment degradation, people will fight over food and water in the future. Cyber terrorism is another silent threat that will increase in intensity in the future. Thousands of Indian computers are hacked every day by the Chinese and the Pakistanis. Such attacks will increase further in the future,” he said.
Between 2011 and 2030, India will add 241 million people to the population of workers. China is way behind, adding just 10 million people during the same period. There are also concerns at the surplus male population, as the sex ratio in the country has dropped to the lowest level since Independence.
Pillai added that this increasing population requires better policing measures and judicial intervention. India not only needs an additional eight lakh police personnel, but also needs to rationalise the population to judge ratio, which, at present, stands at 1.02 lakh.
“To improve accountability, the Justice Accountability Bill is on the anvil but it has faced opposition. There is also an urgent need to amend the Bar Council of India Act to churn out good lawyers,” the home secretary said.
Experts believe that making such a large population employable poses a huge challenge.
The chief economist of the Asian Development Bank Afzal Ali has also warned of social unrest unless India lays down an effective plan to educate and impart skill to such a large population.
Some 60 per cent of the demographic increase will occur in five of India’s poorest and worst-governed states, including Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
“An unskilled, underutilised, frustrated young population will derail economic growth, undermine harmony and breed violence,” warns the prominent Hyderabad-based civil rights activist Jayaprakash Narayan.
Another area of worry for the policy makers in India is the surplus male population. The 2011 Census figures show child sex ratio dropping to 914 females against 1,000 males.
In a research paper, the anthropologists Valerie Hudson and Andrea M Den Boer have underlined alarming trends of violence, crime, and social instability in cultures that had devalued the natural family unit through placing exaggerated worth on male offspring.
“When society places more import on producing male children than on producing a functional family, it upsets the scales of nature, leading to unbalanced communities where males grossly outnumber females. The future often seems bleak for the surplus men as well, who do not have the opportunity to live normal lives,” reads the paper.
Iftikhar Gilani is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.com.