Three of India’s recent victories on the cricket field—the Twenty20 World Cup, the U-19 World Cup and the triseries in Australia—present a hitherto unexplored side of the demographic dividend.
By virtue of having a large population, most of them in the working age, India is expected to reap significant economic benefits in the years ahead. There is, of course, the minor issue of having to train these people for the jobs they will be expected to do, but that’s a minor quibble in a country where aspirations, not government policy, are more often than not responsible for progress.
The three cricketing victories are significant because they are evidence of a facet of demographic dividend that no one has really considered. Sport—tennis, cricket, basketball, even motor racing—is increasingly becoming a young man’s game.
A huge and growing population of young people, and growing prosperity brought about by an economy that has grown at more than 9% three years in a row, have given India the means to succeed in sport. Only one member of the Indian team that won the triseries in Australia, Sachin Tendulkar, was more than 30. In contrast, the Australian team had only three people under the age of 30.
If the country plays its cards right, it won’t just be the source of the world’s workforce but also the country that supplies the world’s sporting leagues with young legs. The European football leagues, even the American football and basketball leagues, will have to look at India—not just as a market in which they can sell themselves (this is the real importance of Chinese basketball player Yao Ming)—but as a source for players.
The best thing about the demographic dividend is that India doesn’t really need to do much to tap into it. The growing global financial clout of its companies—why, one company even has its own F1 team— provides the economic ecosystem required for sport to flourish. The recent Indian Premier League auctions showed that money is no longer a constraint, at least for some sports. Aspirations will take care of the rest.
How long before the LA Lakers send scouts to Meerut?
Will India be able to use its demographic dividend for sporting dominance as well? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org