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Population growth pattern "worrying"

Special Correspondent

Two-thirds of the new population will be from less developed States, says Shankar Acharya


Population growth projection of 619.4 million by the year 2051 If India maintains growth rate, it will improve share in world GDP Reforms must to achieve eight per cent-plus growth rate



Dr. Shankar Acharya

CHENNAI: : The projection that the bulk of the population will be young, employable and productive during the next few decades may be negated by the fact that a majority of them will be in the less developed States.

Against the population growth projection of 619.4 million by 2051, 377 million will come from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Haryana, according to noted economist and former Finance Commission member Shankar Acharya.

"This is a worrying aspect. Nearly two-thirds of the new population will come from the Bimaru States with high fertility and low growth. The four Southern States and Maharashtra form the league of low fertility, high growth States," he told a meeting of the Rotary Clubs of Madras, West, North and Midtown here on Tuesday.

Hindu rate of growth

Speaking on a 25-year perspective of Indian economy, Dr. Acharya said India had graduated from a Hindu rate of growth of 3.6 per cent in 1951 to an average 6.9 per cent by 2004. If it was maintained over the next 10 years, the country would improve its share in the world GDP from 5.8 per cent in 2002 to 8.2 per cent by 2015. In the same period, China would step up its share from 12.1 per cent to 19.5 per cent. The share of the United States would drop from 21.3 per cent to 19.5 per cent. If India could step up its growth to over 8 per cent, it could touch 10 per cent of the world GDP.

To achieve the 8 per cent-plus growth, Dr. Acharya, Member, Board of Governors, Indian Council for Research in International Economic Relations, advocated reforms in labour laws, revitalisation of agriculture, removal of bottlenecks in infrastructure, reduction in government deficit, renewed thrust on privatisation and revamp of primary education and healthcare delivery.

When the political situation made it more feasible, he suggested a "revitalised privatisation" drive that could focus on banking, power and transport sectors.

Though he was not against the public sector, "the political class lacks the maturity to let it run on its own." Without autonomy, the public sector units cannot make profits.

Open economy

Dr. Acharya said the evidence of the benefits of the open economy lay in the fact that duty rates had crashed from over 200 per cent in 1991 to 15 per cent. Employees' remittances from abroad had climbed from just $2 billion to $21 billion in the same period. Foreign exchange reserves rose from hardly $2 billion to $140 billion. All these showed that India could adapt itself to the global economy and was not vulnerable.

He was optimistic that India could overcome the current problems. Rajasthan was making a transition from the Bimaru group into the medium category. Other States had to be pulled out of the category to achieve higher growth and lower poverty.

Rotary president Shanker C. Mangadu outlined the activities of the Rotary clubs here and said the Madras club alone had implemented projects worth Rs. 5.5 crores for the tsunami-affected.

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