The Problem: According to UN Millennium Goal Report 2014, India is home to one-third of the world’s extreme poor despite being one of the fastest growing economies in the world. In addition to the economic woes that the country faces, it has several political challenges such as red-tapism and corruption.
As a result, millions of Indians are suffering in incalculable ways. At the same time, the Indian poor are typically subjected to development approaches of limited effectiveness. These approaches often have a “band-aid” feel that fails to address the root causes of India’s problems. All this said, India has enormous potential, and if it is tapped, we can change the circumstances and achieve the status of being the largest developed democracy of the world.
The Opportunity:Today every third person in an Indian city is a youth. According to a report published by IRIS Knowledge Foundation in collaboration with UN-HABITAT, by 2020, the median individual in India will be 29 years, making it the youngest country in the world. With India is set to become the world’s youngest country with 64 per cent of its population in the working age group, this demographic potential offers India and its growing economy an unprecedented edge that economists believe could add a significant 2 per cent to the GDP growth rate.
Accordingly, India is set to experience a dynamic transformation as the population burden of the past turns into a demographic dividend, but the benefits will be tempered with social and spatial inequalities. Our work matters at a time when exceptional demographics can be used to tackle challenges at hand, and thus cater to the need for holistic approaches to help the nation to move forward — our work helps complete the puzzle of the Indian development conundrum. In that vein, our work is important because it addresses a foundational element of Indian development – the values of many Indians. The lens that we use to diagnose the need for a renegotiation of values and prescribe instilling a sense of responsibility, is unconventional to both academics and developing practitioners, yet it yields immense potential power to compliment and consolidate current development interventions. It identifies the intellectual development of Indians beyond the academic sense, to be what can make the self-actualization of potential of India in social, economic and political terms a reality.
In essence, our work compliments existing development interventions in the nation. While it is important to send children to school and provide Indians with good health services, it is equally important to highlight citizens’ personal and collective responsibility in addressing shared challenges. Lead India Today’s work is important because it builds individual’s and communities’ capacity to take and exercise responsibility for their own development.