With the world's fastest growing population, India is projected to overtake China as the world's most populous country by 2030. This presents a number of future demographic and social challenges concerning healthcare, welfare and education as the age structure is disproportionately young, resulting in a very high dependency ratio.
However, this problem is largely being mitigated by strong economic growth and international integration into financial markets.
India's main industries are textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, software and pharmaceuticals. As economic composition rapidly transitions away from agriculture and manufacturing towards services (31% majority), the standard of living has risen substantially. At the same time, impoverishment continues to debilitate the formal and informal economy with almost a third of the population (29.8%) still living below the poverty line.
India is located in South East Asia and is ranked seventh largest country by area. It shares land borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and Bangladesh, and its coastline is bounded by the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and the Bay of Bengal.
India has a rich and vibrant past originating out of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation more than 4 000 years ago. A long history of empirical domination and cross-tribal trade routes has brought the country to become the ethnically and linguistically diverse cultural mosaic that it is today.
Having gained independence on August 15, 1947, India is now a federal republic. The parliament is elected by a democracy and legislation is governed according to their constitution, which distributes power between the federal government and states. Corruption is a problem, with a world ranking of 85/175 on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.
- Casteism: Caste-derived hierarchies have administered social practices in India for more than three thousand years. The Dalit-Bahujan, or ‘oppressed majority’, number more than 250 million and are considered ‘untouchable’ by more affluent castes. National legislation to outlaw the mistreatment of the Dalit-Bahujan is often overlooked and their basic human rights to food, clothing, shelter, medical care, jobs and education is commonly denied.
- Female feticide: A national preference for sons over daughters has lead to a disproportionate ratio of males to females, particularly for ages younger than six. Gender-based discrimination is another issue, whereby women often lack access to education and employment. This usually leaves them no work opportunity but within the informal sector, where pay and safety is unregulated and consequently compromised.
- Human trafficking: Forced labour, commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary marriage are highly problematic in India, especially in regions where the sex ratio is particularly skewed. Children are often specifically targeted to become beggars, domestic servants, agriculture workers, factory workers and sometimes combatants in terrorist organisations.
- Education: Despite increasing enrollment, national retention and completion rates are experiencing little improvement, particularly in rural India. Systemic difficulties include lack of qualified teachers, overcrowded classrooms, generational lack of opportunity, teacher absenteeism and favouring memorisation over problem-solving techniques.
CIA WorldFact Book - https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html
Transparency International - http://www.transparency.org/country#IND_DataResearch
United Nations Population Fund – www.unfpa.org
United nation Development Reports - http://hdr.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/IND
TBC India - http://www.tbcindia.nic.in/key.html
Global Campaign for Education – http://unicef.org/India_education_1551