New Delhi: India will emerge as one of the youngest nations by 2020 and this changing demographic condition could pose some challenges as well, while providing great opportunities, as per the Economic Survey.
    
India is passing through a phase of unprecedented demographic changes, where in proportion of working age population (15-59 years) is likely to rise from around 58 percent in 2001 to over 64 percent by 2021, said the pre-budget report card on the state of economy.
    
This 'demographic dividend' provides India great opportunities, but also poses a great challenge, the Survey said, while noting that the average Indian will be only 29 years old in 2020.
    
The comparative figures for China and the US are 37 years, while it is 45 years for West Europe and 48 for Japan.
    
These demographic changes are likely to contribute to a substantially increased labour force in the country, the Survey said this demographic change will only benefit India, if our population is "healthy, educated, and appropriately skilled".
    
In absolute numbers, there will be around 63.5 million new entrants to the working age group between 2011 and 2016. Further, the bulk of this increase is likely to take place in the relatively younger age group of 20-35 years.
    
According to the Human Development Report (HDR) published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), India is still in the medium human development category with countries like China, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Philippines, Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa, and even Vietnam has a better rank.
    
Notwithstanding the fact that life expectancy in India has increased by one percentage points from 64.4 in 2010 to 65.4 in 2011, it was way behind the global average and some other nations including Sri Lanka.
    
Life expectancy at birth in Norway was 81.1 years, Australia (81.9 years), Sri Lanka (74.9 years), China (73.5 years), while the global average was 69.8 years.
    
Similarly, the performance of India in terms of mean years of schooling is not only much below that of countries like Sri Lanka, China, and Egypt which have higher per capita incomes but also below that of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Vietnam which have lower per capita incomes. It is also much lower than the global average.
    
In terms of the gender inequality index (GII), there is a higher degree of gender discrimination in India compared to countries like China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, as also the global average.

(Agencies)