India’s Young Population Powers An Industrial Revolution
There was a time, and even now, many so-called educated people blamed India’s huge population for everything that went wrong in the country. That seems to be changing now. Take for example Thursday’s story ‘The Next Industrial Giant Is…India?’ in the New York Times.
“India’s economic advancement no longer rests on telephone call centers and computer programmers.
“A prime reason India is now developing into the world’s next big industrial power is that a number of global manufacturers are already looking ahead to a serious demographic squeeze facing China. Because of China’s ‘one child’ policy, family sizes have been shrinking there since the 1980’s, so fewer young people will be available soon for factory labor.
“India is not expected to pass China in total population until 2030. But India will have more young workers aged 20 to 24 by 2013; the International Labor Organization predicts that by 2020, India will have 116 million workers in this age bracket to China’s 94 million.
“India’s young population will also make it a huge and growing market for years to come, while the engineering skills and English skills of its educated elite will make it competitive across a wide range of industries.
“So even though India remains a difficult place to do business, several multinationals have been placing big bets on India this year in hopes of taking advantage of this shifting global dynamic.
“General Motors and Motorola are preparing to build plants in western and southern India. Posco of South Korea and Mittal Steel of the Netherlands have each announced plans to erect giant steel mills in eastern India, where Reliance of India will soon construct one of the world’s largest coal-fired power plants.
“They are finding India’s labor force well suited to their goals. When LG set out to fill 458 assembly line jobs at its factory here last year at a starting wage of $90 a month, it required that each applicant have at least 15 years of education usually high school plus a technical college.
“Seeking a young work force, the company decided that no more than 1 percent of the workers could have had any prior work experience. Despite the limitation, 55,000 young people met its criteria for interviews.
“Among villages with thatch-roofed huts and dirt roads on the outskirts of this city in central India, John Deere and LG Electronics have recently built modern factories turning out tractors and color television sets for sale in India and for export to the United States.
“In Hazira, in northwestern India, where some residents still rely on camels to carry traders’ goods, the Essar Group is making steel to be used for ventilation shafts in Philadelphia, high-rise structural beams in Chicago and car engine mountings in Detroit.”
So India’s chattering urban classes who treat with contempt the ‘other India’ will now, hopefully, have something positive to think about.