Can a young India lead the world
India is the second most populous country on earth after China: More than 1.2 billion people live here (as of 2018).
India has long been regarded as an economic beacon of hope among the emerging economies. The gross domestic product has grown strongly in the past few years, by an average of five percent. Nevertheless, the Indian economy has serious problems.
Skyscrapers next to slums
India is one of the leading countries in the world in innovative industries such as information technology and biotechnology. A well-educated elite has achieved social advancement. A growing middle class with a good living has developed in the cities. In addition to the skyscrapers of the large corporations, the overpopulated slums, on the other hand, grow, and the poverty and misery of the people grow. The hygienic and social conditions in Indian slums - especially in New Delhi and Calcutta - are miserable.
Unemployment and poverty
India is Asia's most important economic region after China and Japan. Despite these economic successes, there is no other country on earth where so many people live in poverty. On average, a third of the population has to get by on the equivalent of 1.90 US dollars or less per day.
8 to 12 million young Indians enter the labor market every year. This poses a major challenge for the government as the number of new jobs does not meet the job demand of the growing working population. The hoped-for employment effects of economic growth do not materialize - there is talk of "jobless growth".
Hardship in the country
In the center of India, many farmers are struggling to survive. Even today, experts estimate that around 42 percent of the population still draw their income directly or indirectly from agriculture. Poverty is widespread there due to low productivity. This leads to a strong rural exodus on the subcontinent - the youth are mostly looking for employment in the urban centers.
Suicides among cotton farmers
The dependence of Indian farmers on the world market has repeatedly led to human tragedies in recent years. For the rural population, the cultivation of cotton is often the only chance to get out of extreme poverty. But cotton is also prone to pests and drought.
That is why today around 90 percent of the cotton-growing areas are grown with genetically modified seeds. However, rising prices for genetically modified seeds or fertilizers and falling prices for cotton on the world market repeatedly lead to the taking on of debts that many farmers can no longer repay. Climate change and the associated increasing drought also play a role. In 2016, after a long drought, there were thousands of suicides among cotton farmers. But the tragedy goes back longer: It is estimated that around 300,000 farmers and farm workers have committed suicide since 1995. The number of unreported cases is high.
Rural exodus and internal migration
The difficult living conditions in rural areas mean that millions of seasonal workers and day laborers move from the country to the big cities. According to the World Bank, there are almost 40 million migrant workers in India. They do not have a permanent place of residence, but move to wherever there is work for them. The drought in the countryside in particular drives millions of people to the cities, where they secure their livelihoods as seasonal workers in simple services. Most work in Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Ahmedabad. Many of them live in shacks or simply sleep on the street.
Covid-19 leads to urban escape
India is one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus in the world. In order to stop the spread of the virus, there was also a hard lockdown with a curfew. The measures particularly affected the poorest in society, who sought their fortune in the big cities. After most of the factories closed, millions of migrant workers and day laborers fled the centers. Without work and without money, they moved back to their home villages - hundreds of kilometers and often on foot.
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