The problem of plenty: Why we need to fear our demographic dividend

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dividendAll the stories about India’s potential as an economic superpower are hinged on its unparalleled demographic dividend. But while we have a large number of people in the productive age group, every second child is malnourished. It is a growing mass of largely undernourished, undereducated, unemployable young people who aspire for a better life but don’t have the means to get there. Is our demographic dividend a ticking bomb? Listen to our eminent panel –Nandan Nilekani, Yogendra Yadav and Jay Panda – discuss this and much more at THiNK 2013 in a session moderated by TEHELKA’s Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury.

When former Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani got on board to head the government’s UID project that would give a unique identity number – in effect, a social security number – to every Indian resident, it was with the aim to deliver social welfare to the right beneficiaries. A man with the capacity to create incredible transformation, Nilekani has said that the initiative will provide the poor with better access to public services.

In an attempt to fight the corruption that often hinders this process of better access, Yogendra Yadav, senior fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies decided to join the political fray with the Aam Admi Party. A self-made academic, Yadav’s honesty combined with his sharp political analysis and psephological skills have made him one of the most credible public faces. In 2010, he was appointed to the National Advisory Committee for the implementation of the Right to Education Act.

Similarly irritated by the inefficiencies of the country, Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda says he would complain long and loud until his friends told him to “either do something about it or shut up.” He decided to do something.Twice elected to the Rajya Sabha and elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009, Panda is a slick contemporary politician who says he wants to resurrect the image of the politician in the eyes of the disenchanted and weary middle class.

We look forward to hear them speak and learn from their insights at THiNK 2013.

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