Home >News >India >We’ll have to find ways to use free time: Bibek Debroy

With 2020—a year that had people setting targets for transformation throughout the 2000s—just weeks away, Mint invites thought leaders, entrepreneurs and heads of companies to share their vision for the next decade. Bibek Debroy, chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, shares five ideas for the future with Gireesh Chandra Prasad.

Citizens’ demands

Most often, we speak of decentralization in terms of the Union and state governments. There is an enormous amount of decentralization that is required at the local government level. No genuine decentralization has actually happened to local bodies. On the other hand, citizens have become more demanding about public goods, most of which are delivered by local bodies. Yet, very few powers are delegated to them. Citizen pressure for amenities is going to increase enormously.

A human capital problem

There is a lack of correlation between education and skills in society. If the job market is not attaching the right price to the skills imparted by the education system and is giving a premium to the those not provided by education, we have a human capital problem. There is no obvious answer.

AI & Shorter working hours

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being used to perform diverse tasks. By the end of the next decade, the role AI plays will probably be much larger. This raises a question: What will people do with their free time? Europe is increasingly veering towards fewer working hours.

‘Indian’ a collective identity

Migration within the country is increasing. Inter-linguistic marriages are becoming common. We have multiple identities and it leads to a confusion of identities. If one asks a young person about their identity, one may get a vague answer. The only collective identity is of being an Indian.

A large old population, not enough youth to fund it

Projections indicate that the population growth rate has been declining, particularly in the South. If these projections are correct, for the first time, we are seeing an absolute decline in the number of people in the under-15 age group. The trend will have very serious implications. It is the new entrants to the labour force who contribute to financing the needs of the old. In most other countries, the economic growth rate has kept pace with the demographic transition. But we are completely out of sync and will soon have a large, old population but not enough young people to fund their social security needs. It could also lead to excess capacity of facilities like schools.

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