By Naveen Jindal
Ultimately, it is people who matter. India’s population, hypothetically speaking, should be its biggest boon. When it comes to nationalism, patriotism and moral support, it surely is but in matters of economic development, public health — I beg to differ with the Cornucopians and their faith in endless abundance.
I believe in the people of India and always have, but the question is of balance. I also deeply appreciate the potential of “demographic opportunity” but I ask you this – will we be able to seize the moment, extract the economic bounties and be at the forefront of growth? Some food for thought: research has shown the higher the population growth rate of a state is, the more economically inferior it is.
I will not belabour the oft-stated population facts, figures and data but I will ask you to look around, look at our public facilities, look at our streets, hospitals, shops and houses — what do you see? I see people and a lot of them. The optimists argue that we must find ways to make people productive rather than dwelling on absolute number. I am not a pessimist but we, as a nation, have gone much beyond the inflection point. The government provides facilities for accessing health care, capital, skill and knowledge.
When people are not productive, because they cannot access facilities or they are not skilled or educated enough, they blame the failure of the public delivery system. But we must understand that although the system has its imperfections, it can only function properly if citizens too contribute and complement the efforts. Especially with an ever-growing population.