A decade for youth to make India a developed Nation
- Part 1 -

Deepak Aley *


According to official data shared by the National Statistical Office. India’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 7.8 % in the April-June quarter of current fiscal (2023-2024), compared to a growth of 6.1% in the previous quarter of fiscal 2022-23.

India remained the fastest growing major economy as China’s GDP growth in the April-June was 6.3%. Overtook Britian last year to become the world’s fifth largest economy,and recently surpassed china to become the most populous country.

It appears that India is at the right track of becoming 3rd largest economy by 2030. In a report released last month, SBI’s economists said that the path taken by India since 2014 revealed that the country is likely to get the tag of the third-largest economy in 2027 or FY 2028 based on actual GDP data as on March 2023. India was the world’s tenth-largest economy in 2014.

But the question remains to the youth and to Indian as a whole ,how much we are contributing for the country to make it 3rd largest economy? India is called a “youth nation” because of its large and youthful population, which is seen as a potential driver of economic growth, innovation, and cultural influence.


Individuals aged 15 to 29 years are typically considered youth in India. This age group encompasses a significant portion of the population and represents a dynamic and diverse segment with unique needs, aspirations, and challenges. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world’s largest youth population.

Despite the estimated decline in the numbers, India will still remain a relatively ‘young’ country in 2030, with 24% of its population (365 million) in the 15-29 age group. At a time when several countries across Europe, the United States and even China are grappling with the twin problems of an ageing population and declining youth, how India nurtures its youth population will determine its future growth trajectory.

To maximise the potential gains from this “most dynamic and vibrant segment” of the population, the Government of India’s Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports drafted the National Youth Policy (NYP) 2021, envisaging a 10-year vision for youth development by 2030.

According to national family and health survey report NFHS-5, over half of India’s population is still under age of 30. 25% of India’s population is in the age group of 0-14 years, 18% in the 10-19 age group, 26% in the age bracket of 10-24 years, 68% in the 15-64 years age group, and 7% above 65 years.

India’s working-age population made up 60.7 per cent of its total population in 2011, and this grew consistently through 2016 and 2021. It is further projected to grow through 2026, and reach 65.1 per cent in 2031.By 2030,india will have the highest working age population among all the other large economies in the world.

A study on demographic dividend in india by UNFPA(UNITED NATION POPULATION FUND) throws up two interesting fact. One,the window of demographic dividend opportunity in india is available for five decades from 2005-06 to 2055-56,longer than any other country in the world.

PROJECTION: Dr Bibek Debroy, Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, projects that India will grow comfortably at a real rate of 7.5% to pass through the upper-income category and approach the high-income status by 2047. Dr C Rangarajan, former Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to Prime Minister, calculates that India would need to grow at a real rate of 6.18-6.74% to achieve the status of a higher-income country by 2047. Both economists arrive at similar numbers though they take different starting figures and currencies to project their calculations in their papers on macroeconomic essentials.

TRUTH: The fact is that India does not have the luxury of just 3-4 decades to economically grow,but only 1 decade or 10 years to achieve the goal. Among the talk between, “world largest and youthful work force and demographic dividend”, one major talk or point missing is MEDIAN AGE GROUP. India’s fight is against no one but with itself, where it is ticking like a time bomb.


The median age is a statistical measure that represents the age at which exactly half of a given population is older, and half is younger. It is a measure of central tendency and is often used to understand the age distribution within a population. The median age is expressed in years. For example, if you have a population of 7 people in your family and their ages are as follows (in ascending order): 19,21,25,48,50,71 and 75.

The median age in this case would be 48, because it’s the age at which exactly half of the population is younger than 48, and the other half is older than 48. The median age is useful for demographic analysis and can provide insights into the age structure of a population.

It’s often used in conjunction with other demographic indicators to understand population trends, plan for services and infrastructure, and make policy decisions. For example, a country with a high median age may need to plan for an aging population with healthcare and pension needs, while a country with a low median age may focus on education and employment opportunities for its youthful population.


The median age of India’s population is 28.2 years, data from the World Population Prospects (WPP), which forms the basis of the UNFPA report released. This makes the average Indian 10 years younger than the average Chinese whose median age is 39 years,which makes India the youngest nation in the world.

But, India’s young demography will not remain young by 2036 and the proportion of people below the age of 24 will fall to 34.7% by 2036 from over 50% in 2011. And the median age of Indians will jump 10 years to almost 35 by 2036, with some 13 large and industrialized states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh expected to have even a higher median age of its people than the national average.

Economists and experts believe India has a limited window to harness its human capital and absorb it in the workforce, and argue that the projected ageing of the population will have several consequences—the demographic loss, the low productivity in the labour market, an increasing share of dependence in socio-economic life, and need for a wider social security coverage among other things.

Anoop Satpathy, a labour economist and faculty at V.V. Giri National Labour Institute said “We must cease the opportunity in this limited window. For that we have to categorize the young Indians into three buckets—those who are in education, those who are either employed and unemployed and, third, those who are neither pursuing education nor looking for employment. I believe we will have a sizable portion of youth in the third bracket who will need to be gainfully employed in jobs or businesses,”

“While improving quality of education and skilling is one part, transition from schools to workspace need to be faster. Now it takes longer. For that we have to create opportunities in new growth areas. Government is looking at electronics and mobile manufacturing, its growth area, similarly deep technology, solar, core manufacturing can help the people and the economy. An ageing population will have an impact on labour productivity. But, we are not like some of the developed nations and the impact will be gradual. Here you need a wider and robust social security net,” Satpathy said.

Arup Mitra, a professor of economics at Delhi University, said very soon the so-called demographic dividend possibility will dissipate. “To cease the last bite of the possible benefit, a great deal will have to be done for skill formation, plus we have the problems of labour absorption at the advent of the fourth industrial revolution,” said Mitra.

“The pandemic has created additional problems of livelihood loss. In such a situation, upgradation of skill, on-the-job training are essential along with massive investment in all the three key sectors —agriculture, manufacturing and services,” he said.

To be continued....

* Deepak Aley wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on 23 September 2023.

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