Recent reports and National Family health Surveys have signaled a monumental shift in Indian demographics. Highlighting this shift, Discuss the challenges that it will pose. Also, suggest remedial measures.

Recently released NFHS-5 report indicated a monumental shift in Indian demographics.

  • Population stabilization and TFR of below 2.0 achieved.
  • Share of young people in India’s demography has started to decline.
  • Even UNDESA highlighted that India is soon going to witness the phenomenon of ageing, & share of elderly will rise to around 20% by 2050.

Challenges posed by the shift:

  • Window to reap the benefits of demographic dividend has reduced. If human capital, health & education is not strengthened, it may turn into a demographic disaster.
  • India’s advantage of being a labour surplus nation is soon to fade.
  • May demand a structural strength in economy with less labour-intensive sectors. E.g., Shift from textile & leather to service sector.
  • Phenomenon of ageing: Rising elderly population & need for social security to them, Rising ratio of dependents in economy.
  • North-South divide may widen: Southern states like Kerala – much below TFR, Northern states like UP, Bihar – above TFR. It causes the issues like migration, etc.

Remedial measures:

  • Ageing:
    • Enhance social security net via universal insurance coverage.
    • Enhance geriatric healthcare facilities.
    • Enhance research & infrastructure on non-communicable diseases like diabetes, etc.
  • Demographic dividend narrowing:
    • Enhanced impetus to health care for all (Ayushman Bharat), education for all (NEP).
    • Invest in critical technologies like AI, Big data.
    • Impetus to higher education via schemes like USA.
  • Structural Shift – rationalize number of primary education institutes, focus on equality.

Thus, India’s demographic shifts need complimentary policy shift to reap benefits.

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