India is witnessing transformations at an unprecedented speed and scale. The transformations are spread across all spheres of activity, impacting the socio-economic and political fabric of this country. There is clearly a move towards improving liveability, making it easier to do business and improving the economy. From a governance perspective, the role of the people are evolving from being a mere voter, tax-payer and a general bystander on majority of the issues to an active participant and influencer on policy issues. There has been a renewed focus on global issues such as environment and sustainability, thereby bringing about strong measures to comply with global best practices. There have been visible audacious plans proposed and implemented by the government which have helped address the pressing issues plaguing the country’s development. The nature of the economy has also evolved from being ahighly monsoon dependent economy to being virtually drought proof, that has helped provide the policy headspace to the government to drive growth & development. Recent initiatives launched by the government have led to a phenomenon of Competitive Federalisation thereby promoting country-wide development. India is now being perceived as a land of opportunities and the destination of the future. On the flip side, it is also leading to friction being created among the old and the young, the traditional versus the forward looking, the ‘Haves’ and the ‘Have-Nots’. Below are the nine trends that we see are shaping India.
Changing Demographics – The Most Youthful Nation
India accounts for nearly 17 percent of the world’s population and is experiencing rapid demographic changes, with wide implications not only for the country but also across other regions of the world. The key demographic trend is the increasing youthfulness of the country. Roughly 50 percent of the population is less than 24 years old. The implications of this demographic structure has started playing out on the key trends in this country. Cable TV was introduced in the country around 25 years ago. Internet came about 20 years ago. So we have a large part of the population that has grown up with significantly higher exposure to information and global trends. Hence their higher levels of aspirations are driving the direction in which this country is going.
This youthful population is technologically more skilled, socially more aware, politically more involved and economically more aspirational. Many of them are what is popularly called the “Digital Natives”. This enables a greater penetration of technology, leading to a Digital Pervasiveness in the country. Their economic aspirations are leading to rapid urbanisation and also the trend of large number of start-ups and entrepreneurship flowering. India’s working age population is expected to balloon up, making India the largest contributor to the global working population. This would also makes India an even larger market. It will also provide a global workforce that is “Made in India”.
The advent of social media and interactive mediums has given rise to increasing velocity of citizens’ interactions with policy makers on various issues, driven primarily by a more aware and politically active youthful population. Correspondingly, public administration is increasingly looking to place the citizen at the centre of policymakers’ considerations. Citizens are increasingly questioning the leaders they elect to the national, NINE TRENDS SHAPING INDIA Jaijit Bhattacharya 6-9-Trends_14_19_ BEING A FLY GIRL.qxd 3/24/2016 10:20 AM Page 1 state and local levels on a wide range of issues which range from affordable housing to international relations.
The RTI Act has been considerably utilised as a tool by citizens groups to influence and shape government functioning and seek accountability on various aspects of governance. The government has also undertaken very large initiatives to introduce egovernance at the national, state and local levels for information dissemination and feedback. With the increase in internet and mobile connections, the voice of citizens are being increasingly amplified in wide ranging ways. Citizens’ expectations and demand for information and services online from governments is increasing gradually so as to improve their civic, professional and personal lives. The social media has also created avenues for the people to participate in political movements, forcing the government at Centre, State and local levels to take action on matters that earlier, were swept under the carpet. While such trends are still in their infancy, they are helping to break the stranglehold of a few powerful influencers on the government machinery, thereby increasing accountability into all arms of the government – the executive, the legislative and the judiciary.
Economic aspirations, coupled with squeezing out of excess labour from agriculture, is leading to rapid urbanisation of India. This trend is fuelled by mass migration from rural areas to urban areas and also by rural habitations evolving into semi-urban and urban habitations. According to World Bank estimates, an unprecedented 50 percent of the Indian population would be residing in urban areas by 2041. Natural growth continues to be the significant element (approx. 40 million) of urban population growth during the period 2001 to 2011, as compared to net rural – urban migration (approx. 22 million).
A report by IIHS in 2011 estimates that the top 100 largest cities produce 43 percent of the country’s GDP, with 16 percent of the population and just 0.24 percent of the land area. Apart from serious challenges related to habitat, transport and other facilities, it has also generated high expectations, especially among educated youth. India’s urbanisation is thus playing a significant role in social transformation and economic mobility, necessitating a phenomenal demand for land. Managing population densities within Indian cities is a significant challenge in accommodating urban expansion, as is financing urban expansion and city renewal – thereby calling for innovative urban planning frameworks and regulations. The trend of urbanisation is expected to kick off larger consumption of steel, cement and other commodities and manufactured goods. It would also lead to more efficient cities, thus leading to larger consumption of services. It would thus feed into the economic aspirations of a burgeoning youthful population. The government has also stepped in to support the urbanisation trend, after relative apathy for much of the last six decades. Programmes of Smart City, AMRUT, Swachh Bharat and Housing for All are expected to significantly contribute to the urbanisation trend.
Over the past two decades, there has been an exponential proliferation of digital technologies in the country. There are over 276 million mobile phone internet users in India as compared to 48 million users in 2012.The number of Internet users in India grew at an even more rapid rate, from 150 million in 2012 to almost 350 million in 2015, listing India on the 3rd rank globally. Again, it seems to be that a digitally more adaptable youthful population is driving the higher digital penetration in the country.
All information, things and spaces are getting digitised. We notice that not only is legacy information being digitised but also that new information is generated and consumed in a digital form. Governments are moving towards a regime where no paper certificates are required. Certificates will be digitally created and hosted.
From meters, to vehicles to pollution sensors, to shoes, glasses, watches, pacemakers, embedded medical devices – every thing is getting digitised and connected to the Internet under the framework of Internet of Things (IOT). And hence every thing can be remotely monitored and managed, increasing the levels of automation to unprecedented levels. Spaces are getting connected. From homes and offices to public spaces getting free Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity. Even spaces such as cars and public transportation are getting connected, and things, spaces and information are freely communicating with each other in an all pervasive digital fabric. With technologies such as 3D printing creeping in, even products are getting digitised, with the designs being sent over to homes to be printed and created, and hence if someone is short of a cup for a dinner party, all that the person has to do is print it out without stepping out from home. This is transforming how we work, interact, transact and live.
Job Creators Vs Job Seekers
The economic aspirations of the youth are driving an ever larger number of startups being conceived. India’s youth are moving away from the traditional aspiration of a comfortable job to high risk, high pay off world of startups, transforming the business ecosystems and having a deep impact on our lives. Many of the startups are supported by digital technologies and are hence in the domain of e-commerce and mcommerce. This startup ecosystem is being made possible due to the fact that a more youthful population is digitally enabled. It is interesting to note that more than 70 percent of the entrepreneurs are less than 35 years of age.
With nearly three to four startups emerging every day, India ranks third in the world in terms of the number of firstname.lastname@example.org >> January-February 2016 >> SALUTE TO THE INDIAN SOLDIER 07 TRANSFORMATION IMPERATIVES 6-9-Trends_14_19_ BEING A FLY GIRL.qxd 3/24/2016 10:20 AM Page 2 SALUTE TO THE INDIAN SOLDIER << January-February 2016 << salutemagazine@08 gmail.com startups. It has been estimated that in 2015, startups registered a growth rate of 40 percent leading in turn to a sharp increase in the number of employment opportunities within India. A large number of startups that are not necessarily in the domain of ecommerce and m-commerce,are also contributing to larger job creation in the country. These are services and manufacturing companies that are emboldened by the series of business process reforms being introduced by the central and state governments, which is making it easier to do business in India. The trend indicates a shift from being job seekers towards being job creators. The Conscious Citizen – Environmentally Sensitive Responsible Consumption
The combined pressures of population growth, economic growth and climate change is placing increased stress on essential natural resources in India and globally. These issues have made people sensitive towards sustainable resource management. There is a movement towards adopting policies and practices that help reduce unnecessary consumption, reversing a trend of unfettered consumption as a mark of development. Slowly but surely, people are moving towards environmentally sensitive, responsible consumption. The awareness of the majority youthful population of India to the issues of climate destruction, is pushing the political and social thought process and policy making. The trend is clearly demonstrated by the people support received by the odd-even cars scheme by Government of Delhi, for reducing the air pollution impact by vehicles. Even at greater personal discomfort, TRANSFORMATION IMPERATIVES 6-9-Trends_14_19_ BEING A FLY GIRL.qxd 3/24/2016 10:20 AM Page 3 people moved onto public transportation and car-pooling. This is in lock-step with the global trend that has being brewing for more than a decade, fuelled by the youth, who have now come to occupy places of decision making.
Indian government is getting the political space, supported by this moreaware population, to boldly put forth its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). India has committed to reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 33-35 percent by 2030 from the 2005 level, achieve about 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources with a target of 175 GW by 2022 and creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. The future beckons towards increasing use of solar energy and other renewable sources and more environmentally friendly transportation systems.
With almost 40 percent of the GDP linked to global trade, India has rapidly become interconnected with the global economy. The interconnectedness is not just economic, but also in terms of culture, skills, technology, medicine, policy making, language and in almost all domains of life. The process that was kicked off over a hundred years ago, with India’s participation in World War I, where modern ideas and concepts started flowing into India at a much more rapid pace, has snowballed, and India is set to come back to global centre stage, by both influencing and being influenced by global trends. This is fundamentally altering age-old traditions, some even leading to aggravated class and caste frictions.
The impact is visible on India’s cultural industry– movies, music, art etc also. New words, forms of dance and music, cinematography etc are evolving globally, with significant influence from India, with Indian art forms too being impacted by global trends. Economically, we see a continued increase in the levels of international trade and capital flows for India. As the trend toward increased economic interconnectedness is expected to continue, India would need the right policy frameworks in place to capture the benefits of trade and manage the risk through ongoing and upcoming fiscal policies like increase FDI limits in insurance, railways, defence and encouraging privatisation of loss making public sector companies.
Transformational National Initiatives
The last two years have witnessed a slew of government initiatives that have been transformational in nature. On the social side, initiatives are aimed at financial inclusion, targeted subsidy delivery etc. On the economic side, the stress is on programmes that will improve the ease of doing business in India, enabling the Startup ecosystem, Make in India, large scale infrastructure development etc.A third set of programs focus on providing a better life to its people through initiatives such as housing for all, toilets for all etc. These initiatives are driven by the aspirations of the youthful population for better living conditions and pursuit of happiness. Unless India is able to rapidly develop and transform, it could possibly stare at an implosion driven by the disgruntled youth. And hence the urgent need for the large national initiatives.
Yojana’ for instance, a phenomenal 200 million bank accounts have been opened within the country. Under improving Ease of Doing Business initiative and Smart City initiative, the country witnessed the phenomenon of Competitive Federalism. This innovative mechanism to have Centre and States work in alignment, is being extended to many other programs. Furthermore, more than 30,000-40,000 citizens are giving up LPG subsidy every day for contributing to nation building. This demonstrates that the cynicism in the society is giving way to youthful morality and exuberance. Such unprecedented response from the citizens is reshaping governance within the country into a more participatory governance. It has led to the emergence of a new trend which would significantly influence the country’s future.
For a long time, India has been at the receiving end of asymmetric warfare, in the form of terrorism. A much smaller amount of effort (in the form of crafting and running terror infrastructure) from adversaries has tied down a disproportionate amount of Indian defence assets and forces. This trend will continue and will be further exacerbated by new dimensions of asymmetric warfare emerging in the country. Thus, we are likely to see a ramping up of economic warfare in the form of fake currencies being pumped in, cyberattacks, large scale migrations (which may be unintended but is exposing the country to demographic challenges), water diversion from key river systems and social warfare enabled through technology (MMS being circulated leading to social disturbances). The ability to withstand such attacks is not limited to the abilities of the military forces but require a larger capacity building within the financial institutions, diplomatic institutions andby building resilience amongst the population.
Today, India is at an important stage in its history. How we deal with the challenges at hand will determine the future outcome of the country.
Dr Jaijit Bhattacharya is the President, Centre for Digital Economy Policy Research. He can be contacted at email@example.com