Major disparity among States

C. J. Punnathara | Updated on November 15, 2017

This was no Malthusian nightmare. Instead, it was an unforeseen demographic dividend which could catapult India's growth story into higher realms. But the dividend is unevenly distributed across India.

In certain parts of the country, the West and southern region, the demographic dividend was far more pronounced and evident. And these regions had already built up the social and industrial base to constructively exploit the dividend stemming from increased numbers of working age people.

In the early sixties, the number of people in the working age group as a ratio of dependents was more or less uniform across the country. But the ratio began to tilt in favour of the southern and western States in the ensuing decades. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat led the rally, as the number of people in the working age group in these States soared. These were also some of the very States which kicked in accelerated industrial development and economic growth.

On the other hand, the States in the heartland of India, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, revealed no such tendency. There was no major demographic dividend visible in these States over the years. The number of people in the working age group, as a ratio of dependents, did not reveal the same strident pace of growth as their southern and western neighbours did.

What is in evidence is the fact that while India as a nation might be enjoying a high level of demographic dividend, there remains major disparity among the regions and States. How has the per capita growth among the various states fared in this background? Not surprisingly, the southern and western States seem to have recorded an accelerated rate of growth in per capita income against the laggards, the States of the Indian heartland.

The disparity between the states of western and southern India and those of the heartland present a striking picture of contrast. This raises the moot question: was it demographic dividend which kicked off accelerated development and increased per capita income, or was it the other way round? It seems to have been a bit of both.

The economic development provided increased job opportunities to the people, whose production in turn contributed to the pace of economic development.

Published on May 13, 2012

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