Do not let demographic dividend becoming a liability, MSDE needs to take “gigantic challenge”: President Pranab Mukherjee

President Pranab Mukherjee said government needs to focus on skill development to prevent the demographic dividend from becoming a liability and an explosive situation. He said that India is a population of 1.28 billion and this population is increasing substantially.

“More often we use one phrase India’s advantage – demographic dividend. Why do we use this phrase demographic divided because India has the largest number of working age population in the world,” he said while inaugurating the first edition of ‘India Skills’ here.

“This question is staring at us, unless we handle it appropriately and in time, this population dividend may be population liability and the situation may be explosive… either it is to be defused or it is to be converted into advantage,” he added.

He also announced the launch of major initiatives of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE). These include restructured version of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, India International Skill Centres, India Skills Online and a Labour Management Information System.

The President said all these initiatives aim at upgrading and imparting skills in youth.

He said that more than 62 per cent of India’s population is in the working age group; 54 per cent is below the age of 25. “That means India is a young nation of young population and that gives the advantage and described the demographic dividend as that advantage,” he added.

Mukherjee emphasised on the importance of providing employment to 15 million people who are entering into the job market every year within a reasonable span of time. This is correct to have a ministry specially accountable and responsible for this herculean task and to forecast on the development of skill, he said. “For the development of skill, we have launched some initiatives and launched the platform of India skills,” he added.

“I am quite confident that it would be possible for us to truly convert the demographic dividend which we have and we will be able to avoid a very serious implication of demographic dividend being converted into demographic liability and creating an explosive situation,” he said.

The President said that this task is a “gigantic challenge”.

Congratulating MSDE Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, he said Rashtrapati Bhavan is also a beneficiary of the skill development initiatives as 1,500 employees of the Bhavan get different skill certificates.

He said that just like India has like PhDs in history and science, “we must have experts in driving, plumbing and the PhDs in these areas are not less important than the PhDs in science, philosophy and mathematics,” Mukherjee said. He said the target of skilling 500 million youth by 2020 should not be extended “beyond a point” as every year 15 million job seekers are entering into the job market. “Right now 12.9 per cent of the Indian youth of age group 18 to 29 are unemployed compared to 13 per cent of the whole world. This is one side of the spectrum,” he said.

Since 2008, the world economy is standstill, euro zone crisis has engulfed whole of Europe and it has effected Indian economy also, he said adding in the major export markets there was no demand.

“The population is ageing, working age population is very fast dwindling. People are not ready to accept any burden of taxation and people are also not ready to compromise on the social securities. That means, in other words they will not like to pay for the services which they are having.

“The question is who is going to pay the bills, there is no colony, no subordinate economy. All the countries are independent today, days of colonial economy has gone. But this realisation has not yet come which is staring at our face because 8 years have passed since the 2008 crisis took place. Today is 2016, IMF and WB in their report have not given us any ray of hope so far as the advance economies are concerned,” the President said.

But, he added that in this situation, India is emerging as fastest growing economy among emerging economies in the world, thanks to foresightedness of policymakers to have a directional change in export basket and having closer economic relationship with new emerging economies in Africa and Asia.

He said recently President, Vice-President and Prime Minister visited Africa as it has huge potential for India. Terming the skill development programme as the most important, he said it will provide jobs to India’s burgeoning population and boost economy.

“Truly it is a paradox. On the one hand, we are having population in the working age group, substantial population …All the programmes aims at skill developments and that will improve the employability, generation of wealth and overall economic growth,” he added.

He, however, cautioned that if they cannot provide jobs to the huge number of people entering the job market every year, the population dividend could turn into a population liability and this explosive situation has to be prevented.

He  congratulated Ministry of Skills led by Shri Rajiv Partap Rudy under Narendra Modi government for its achievements in a short span of time.