India has been clocking some fast-paced growth over the past few years.
As the world’s fastest-growing major economy, it is poised to displace Germany as the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2022, according to the International Monetary Fund. By 2032, its economy is expected to grow to $10 trillion from the present $2.3 trillion.
In this backdrop, NITI Aayog, a policy think-tank that advises the Indian government, came out with draft recommendations (pdf) last week to help stay on this trajectory and radically transform the quality of life of its billion-and-more citizens.
The report, titled Three Year Action Agenda, envisages a fully literate India that also has universal access to healthcare. “India’s 125 crore citizens, the majority of which consists of the youth, increasingly aspire for greater empowerment and a better quality of life,” the think tank said in its report. “In this backdrop, the present document charts an ambitious, transformational yet achievable action agenda for the government during 2017-18 to 2019-20.”
Quartz looks at the top recommendations from the action plan.
Double farmer income
Farmers make up nearly half of the country’s workforce, the NITI Aayog estimates.
However, over the last few decades, their plight has been a cause of concern. Failed crops and high debt pushed over 12,000 agricultural labourers to commit suicide in 2015 (pdf) alone. Many even quit farming completely.
The think tank has proposed enhancing agricultural productivity by introducing new technologies and shifting from low- to high-value activities such as horticulture, dairying, poultry, piggery, fisheries, and forestry. “We need to expand the scope of irrigation to increase crop intensity, improve access to irrigation, enhance the seed replacement rate, and encourage the balanced use of fertilisers,” the report said.
Jobs, jobs, jobs
The NITI Aayog pegs India’s unemployment rate at between 5% and 8% currently. But it believes unemployment isn’t the real challenge.
“Indeed, unemployment is the lesser of India’s problems,” the report said. “The more serious problem instead is severe underemployment. A job that one worker can perform is often performed by two or more…In effect, those in the workforce are employed, but they are overwhelmingly stuck in low-productivity, low-wage jobs.”
Taking a cue from countries such as South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and China, NITI Aayog wants the Narendra Modi government to aggressively push for domestic manufacturing under its Make in India initiative to create well-paid jobs for low- and semi-skilled labourers.
India is best poised to attract a large number of manufacturing jobs as companies shift base from China due to high wages and an ageing workforce there. “With its large workforce and competitive wages, India would be a natural home for these firms,” the report said. It recommends the setting up of two coastal employment zones on the lines of the Chinese strategy to promote exports and create jobs.