Accept my warmest wishes for the New Year first. I hope this year would prove to be one that ends the evils of covid and the Russia-Ukraine war.
It will be a crucial year for India. The United Nations estimates that India may surpass China as the most populous country on 14 April with a population of 1.42 billion (1,425,775,850). Would having these many people be a blessing or a curse?
Although the large population undoubtedly causes certain issues, it is also our capital. Today, we have the largest number of graduates in the entire world. No other nation in the world has a population that is as young, educated and skilled. About 370 million of this young population contributes significantly to our GDP.
Young people easily adopt new technologies and workplace cultures. This boosts output while cutting costs. Owing to this, India continues to draw investors from the world over. The stock markets are doing well and their bull run shows we have been successful in luring both domestic and foreign investment.
Here is another example. Cisco has estimated that by 2023, there will be over 900 million internet users in India. In other words, 64% of the population as a whole would be accessing internet. It is undeniable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiatives have been a complete success since the onslaught of covid. The spread of 5G will certainly quicken this pace. By December, 5G had already reached 50 Indian cities. By the same time this year, 200 cities are scheduled to be included.
We Indians are special in that despite our yearning for advancement, we remain rooted in our homeland. As a result, the government’s emphasis on domestic innovation and products is rising.
Last year, the number of unicorns in India climbed by about 20. The total number of unicorns now stands at 108. We trail considerably behind the US and China. The US is home to 865 unicorns, whereas China is home to 224. This year, perhaps, will provide new prospects for aspiring billionaires in India. Will they make an effort to reduce the nation’s unemployment and inequality? The data we currently have is not encouraging. Those who benefit from the government’s incentive programme should think about it.
India has also set a goal for this year to produce 125 GW of solar energy. The hymns from the Rig Veda attest to the fact that we Indians have respected nature ever since the beginning of our civilization. Hopefully, in the coming year, we will place the highest priority on protecting the environment.
But things are not all that rosy.
In a short amount of time, our prejudices have turned into perversities. No nation can prosper while carrying this unwarranted burden. Will there be some relief in 2023? Political leaders must also seriously consider how to secure the nation’s boundaries. If this does not occur, future generations will lament that we lack the fortitude to draw lessons from the past.
Here, we also need to consider how the geopolitical environment is changing. As devastating as 2021 was for us, 2023 appears to be for China. The Chinese economy’s predicament will worsen as a result. We can use this as an opportunity. The West, incensed by Xi Jinping’s antics, took factories manufacturing semiconductors to India last year. We will, hopefully, concentrate on making our progress more export-oriented than import-based under these conditions.
In addition, we need to review the agricultural sector. We have been importing pulses and edible oils up until this point. The world will experience a worsening food and edible oil crisis if the war between Russia and Ukraine does not end. The UN has issued a warning that 48 million people in West and Central Africa could be hungry in 2023 alone as a result of the reduction in agricultural productivity.
We can play a significant role in ending the food crisis. Similar to this, this year will see some important developments in other parts of the world in the fields of science and medicine. Indian youth will need to contribute more to these.
At the start of the new year, I deliberately steer clear of talking about unpleasant issues. Only when we approach the year with a positive perspective, we will be able to contribute to making it meaningful. Please accept my warmest wishes once again.
Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan. Views are personal.
Milestone Alert!Livemint tops charts as the fastest growing news website in the world 🌏 Click here to know more.