India envisions quadrupling per capita income by 2020

Friday, 24 January 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India envisions quadrupling its per capita income by 2020 provided the population growth slows down to around 1.3 percent from the present level of two percent, according to an expert panel.

The panel, headed by Planning Commission member S. P. Gupta and comprising around 30 experts in different fields, released Thursday a document 'India Vision 2020' that seeks to lay out where the planners envisage the country to be 18 years ahead.

"With a targeted gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 8-9 percent per annum and a slower population growth of 1.5 percent to 1.3 percent, India would be able to quadruple its per capita income by 2020 and reach the level of many other middle income countries," said Gupta at a press briefing.

While India's population growth has recently decelerated to below two percent for the first time in two decades, it is not so across the length and breadth of the country.

Despite a galloping population, currently estimated at 1.04 billion, India has been able to double its per capita income in the last 20 years, the experts said.

In 2001, India's per capita gross national income was about $460, which compared poorly with even developing countries like China and Sri Lanka.

As India strives to reach higher up the ladder of per capita income from the 150th to the 100th position, the challenge would be to create more employment, ensure cent percent literacy and more focus on agriculture to meet food and nutrition needs of a population expected to reach 1.35 billion by 2020, said Planning Commission Deputy Chairman K. C. Pant.

Compiled after two years of work, the report examines a wide range of important issues, said Pant. "The ones that stand out most powerfully are employment and education."

In the days ahead, as the finance ministry prepares for presenting the next annual federal budget on February 28, the planners are hopeful of some of the 'vision' finding financial support.

Over the next two decades, India faces the task of generating 200 million new employment opportunities to partly clear the backlog of 35 million unemployed people currently and the millions expected to join their ranks.

India estimates that the largest growth of population will be in the 15-64 age group - expected to reach 882 million by 2020, an increase of 46 percent at an annual growth of 1.9 percent.

The vision document, to be deliberated upon in the days ahead before being finalised, has identified possible areas for job creation and crucial policy issues that need to be addressed in order to tap this potential.

"More vocational training and stress on creating skills to meet localised needs would have to be focused upon to enable young people to find employment or start some enterprise on their own," said Pant.

In keeping with the changing global trends, the report emphasises the need for better quality education at all levels from basic literacy to hi-tech, science and technology, which are essential for raising agricultural and industrial productivity.

"The document also examines issues related to population growth, food production, health, vulnerable sections of the population, transport, communications and energy needs, besides focusing on environment and water resources, peace and security," said Pant.
Source: IANS
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