Conclusions and policy recommendations R. K. Sinha

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Conclusions and policy recommendations

R. K. Sinha

In the new millenium, nations will be judged by the well-being of the peoples; by levels of health, nutrition and education; by the civil and political liberties enjoyed by their citizens; by the protection guaranteed to children and by provisions made for the vulnerable and the disadvantaged (National Population Policy 2000). Mere statistics relating to economic growth are not adequate; they are, at best, the indicators of the process for achieving some of the objectives stated above. The contribution of the social and political factors to the quality of life of the citizens is equally, if not more, important.

The dawn of the 21st century and the new millennium was hailed by many as the harbinger of good governance, economic prosperity, better quality of life for all and political stability in the country. With almost a decade of the opening of the economy, and with the structural adjustment lag period almost over, the future looked brighter. Many amongst us harboured the feeling that the era of progress by leaps and bounds had started, and it was only a matter of time when we would be rubbing shoulders with the more prosperous states in the world. The GDP growth rate which was 5.6% in 1990-91, dipped to 1.3% in 1991-92, rose again to 4.8% in 1997-98, 6.6% in 1998-99 and 6.4% in 1999-00. The resilience shown by the Indian capital market during the East Asian meltdown in 1997/98 added strength to our conviction about our ability to hold on our own in times of emergency and near collapse worldwide. The percentage of people living below the poverty line has been going down from 38.9% in 1987-88, to 36% in 1993-94, and, as per the latest 55th Round Survey conducted by NSSO, further down to 26.1% in 1999-00. Other indicators like life expectancy, enrolment in educational institutions, infant mortality rates etc showed signs of improvement The credibility of the economic and financial policies followed by us were thus greatly strengthened.
The dawn of the new millenium was, thus, full of hopes. It brought in its wake many aspirations, raising some valid questions. Would we be able to achieve a sustained growth of 8-10% annually as demonstrated by China? Would we be able to eradicate poverty, provide good quality education, employment and healthcare to all? The industrialised democracies of the world have taken many years to reach the present level of their development. Would we, as a democracy, be able to encapsulate the above process of development in a short span of time, say, 25 years, on the lines on which China has already demonstrated? Is the social, economic and political fabric of the country strong and determined enough to perform and leap-frog to prosperity and a caring society in 25 years' time? Would there be social, economic and political stability in the country to enable the powers that be to focus on these issues, take hard decisions, at times, in the overall public interest and to successfully implement the policies in furtherance of the developmental objectives?
The second half of the 20th century witnessed remarkable achievements, both worldwide and in India as well. It has been generally a peaceful period, localised dissensions, some internal security problems, minor clashes and the three wars with Pakistan notwithstanding. In a pluralistic society, for the democracy to have strengthened from point to point is no mean achievement. Post 1991, the reforms have been underway and Government has shown the determination to not only manage the macroeconomics of the country, but also to alleviate the sufferings of the common man. Internationally, there has been a greater awareness of the need for better coordination with like-minded countries in international fora for the common good, as well as in national interest. The role of technological innovations in meeting the aspirations of the people and for economic growth have been widely acknowledged.
However, demographic pressures, rising expectations, and ever growing desire for better standards of living are likely to pose some problems in future. At the same time, along with technological change, they could also provide the desired stimulus for accelerated growth to meet the expectations of the people. The demand for goods and services would increase, and resources would be made available to meet such demands. Worldwide, there would be no shortage of goods and services; the challenge for us would be how to reorient or reinvent ourselves to participate and take advantage of such global phenomenon, in the shortest possible time-frame. But as the gap between the haves and the have-nots increases in the short term, political reaction could lead to social turbulence and political unrest. In any game of development, there would be losers and winners. The concentration of economic strength and benefits in a few to the exclusion of the majority may have to be addressed by a progressive target-oriented policy of resource transfer to the capable and the needy amongst the majority. The disparity would then get narrowed down with better income distribution across the board. In this, the management of the losers politically, socially and economically would be a daunting task, which has to be carried out in a systematic and well orchestrated manner. The vulnerability of the losers would need to be recognised and action taken to ensure their commitment to the process of sustainable development.

The following sections are an attempt at answering these questions, based largely on the inputs provided by the preceding chapters.

Optimistic scenario
The National Population Policy 2000 (Government of India 2000) says that the medium-term objective is to bring the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) to replacement levels of 2.1 by 2010. The long-term objective is to achieve a stable population by 2045, at a level consistent with the requirements of sustainable economic growth, social development, and environmental protection. Among the socio-demographic goals for 2010 are the reduction of infant mortality rate (IMR) to below 30 per 1000 live births, and the reduction of maternal mortality ratio (MMR) to below 100 per 100,000 live births. It is assumed that TFR would be constant at 2.1 after 2010 and the life expectancy at birth in 2010 would be 68 for males and 71 for females. It would increase at a slower pace to 72 for males and 76 for females by 2025. Since these are the national objectives, they provide the basis for the optimistic scenario by 2025.
According to the Census 2001, the provisional population of India is 1027 million, although the National Population Policy 2000 had projected a population of 1012.4 million in March, 2001. The provisional census data and the projections made by the Technical Group on Population Projections, Planning Commission, have varied slightly by almost 15 million. However, based on the provisional results, India's population on March 1, 2000, is estimated to be 1010 million.
Under the optimistic scenario, India is likely to have a population of 1380 million in 2025. The sex ratio would be 950 females to 1000 males, up from 932 in 2000. About 24.5% of the population would be between 0-14 years, down from 35.7% in 2000, 68.3% in the age group 15-64 years, up from 59.8% in 2000, and 7.2% would be 65+ years of age, up from 4.5% in 2000. The dependency ratio would come down from 67% in 2000 to 46% in 2025, a situation which could usher in both increased consumerism and higher households savings rate, although the greying of the population would be significant. The population in the primary school going age (6-14 years) would go down from 210 million in 2000 to 197 million in 2025 as a result of TFR remaining at the replacement level of 2.1 from 2010 onwards. The demographic bonus would result in an increase in the population of the people in the working age (15-64 years) from 603.98 million in 2000 to 942.54 million in 2025, offering both enormous opportunities to economic growth as well as major challenges for the job markets.
The most likely scenario
In the most likely scenario, TFR is likely to fall from 3.40 in 2000 to 2.80 in 2010 and then gradually to 2.20 in 2025. The life expectancy at birth will rise from 60 years in 2000 to only 67 years in 2025 for males, and for females, it will rise from 62 years in 2000 to 71 years in 2025. India will have a population of 1403 million by 2025. The sex ratio would be 954 females to 1000 males, an improvement of 4 over the optimistic scenario. About 26.5 % of the population would be of the age group 0-14 years, 67.2% would be in the working age group of 15-64 years and 6.4 % of the population would be 65+ years of age. The dependency ratio would be 49% as against 46% in the optimistic case, mainly because of the increase of 2% in the age group 0-14 years. The population of the primary school going age (6-14 years) would increase from 210 million in 2000 to 224 million in 2025, an addition of 14 million children to be taken care of at the primary school level, and consequent cohorts management at the secondary and tertiary levels. There would be 943 million in the working age group of 15-64 years, almost the same as in the optimistic scenario. The population of people of age 65+ years would be 90 million in 2025, double of the 45 million in 2000, bringing considerable pressure on geriatric healthcare and innovative pension schemes to take suitable care of their needs.
In both the optimistic and the most likely scenarios, there would be considerable regional differences, the difference between the two scenarios being only of degrees. Two distinct regions emerge for purposes of comparison: (a) the northern region comprising of the states of Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Uttaranchal and Chattisgarh ; and (b) the southern region comprising of the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The TFR in the northern region would fall from 4.40 in 2000 to about 2.70 in 2025, while the southern region would have reached the replacement level of 2.1 in 2005 itself, and by 2015, the TFR would be only 1.80, and it will remain so till 2025. The life expectancy for males in the north would be 66 years in 2025 and for females it would be 67. In the south, the life expectancy at birth would be 70 for males and 74 for females in 2025. The population of the northern region would rise from 450 million in 2000 to 700 million in 2025, and its share of India's population would go up from 45% to 50%. The southern region would experience only a marginal increase from 220 million in 2000 to 265 million in 2025, and its share in India's population would decline from 22% to 19%. The population of the northern region would be growing at the rate of 1.4% per annum in 2025, while the growth in the southern region would be only 0.5%. The advantages that the south would derive from its early demographic transition are obvious. But the regional demographic imbalances may induce large labour population movements from the north to the south in search of better livelihoods. This has all the potential of political and social unrest.
By 2025, India's population would be almost equal to that of China, and it would still be growing at 1% per annum even though the TFR for long run population stabilisation would have been nearly reached by then. 86% of the total population increase between 2000 and 2025 would be in the working age group of 15-64 years, 11% in 65+ age group, while only 3% in the age group 0-14 years. This demographic gift could be profitably utilised to (a) raise the savings rate as dependency ratio declines, and (b) raise the productivity of labour to reach a higher level of economic growth. With the decline in the TFR, the number of women entering the labour market would increase. However, the rapid expansion of the male labour force during this period till about 2020 might delay the entry of women in the labour market in significant numbers. By 2025, 40% of the population would be residents of urban areas. About two-thirds of the population increase during this period would live in urban centres, considerably increasing the pressure on urban civic amenities. However, if the demographic gift is properly channeled, then the urban centres would be full of buoyancy, rather than despair.
Optimistic scenario
India in 2025 would have a well established education system at the elementary, secondary and tertiary levels to be able to develop manpower for different levels of the economy and to form the substrate on which research and development would flourish. Having added 203 million to the population of the literates during the decade 1991-2001, India has demonstrable capability to reach near 100% literacy level by 2025. The high rates of literacy in the rural areas, particularly among women, would encourage labour mobility from the agriculture sector to the more productive non-farm sectors. The managerial and financial skills required for the expanding and rapidly developing economy would be provided by the vibrant and matching tertiary education system.
Elementary education would have become a fundamental right, and the state would endeavour to ensure at least 8 years of schooling to every child. There would be universal access and enrolment and concerted efforts at universal retention of children upto 14 years of age. The girl child, the children of the landless wage earners, SCs and STs and the adult illiterates would become fully and functionally literate. Private schools would have considerable presence in the urban areas, urban agglomerations and the upwardly mobile rural areas, the expansion being mainly demand generated. The involvement of the community and the panchayats and other local bodies in the management of the government and government-aided schools would be near total. The gender gap at the elementary level would have nearly been closed. The drop-out rates would have fallen considerably with the rise in incomes of rural and urban poor households.
The enrolment at the secondary and the senior secondary level would have expanded to take in almost all students desirous of pursuing further studies. From the present level of gross enrolment ratio of about 60% in the secondary level, by 2025, the schools system would be generating a gross enrolment of about 75-80% with almost near full access and retention in computer literacy. There would be greater enrolment of girls, SCs and STs, particularly in science, commerce and vocational streams. From about 48-50% of the secondary school age girls being enrolled, the ratio would substantially increase and nearly match that of the enrolment of boys. There would be a heavy bias in favour of vocational and technical education, although in the Republic of Korea, Malaysia and Thailand employers and students are realising that general education equips people for the demands of a modern economy integrated with the world trading system. There would be emphasis on quality and creativity. Science education would stress on experimentation, scientific enquiry and problem solving, making the school leavers more receptive to on-the-job training. Intellectual rigour, seriousness of purpose, innovativeness, creativity, objectivity, spirit of enquiry, and the ability to think, reason, analyse and to articulate logically, would be the visible traits of the school leavers. While private schools would proliferate in both urban and rural areas, the use of distance education and the mass media would strengthen considerably.
From a level of 613 per 100,000 population of enrolment in tertiary education in 1997, of which only about 30% of the women enrolled were in the science stream, by 2025, India will be able to provide college and university education to about 40% of the population in the age cohort 18-24 years. Engineering, Medical, Information Technology and management education will be the choice of bulk of the students enrolled. From a level of about 61% of the male students enrolled in 1997, the level of female students enrolled would substantially increase to almost evenly match the male students. There would be an increasing percentage of female students in the technical, management, sciences and humanities. The growing importance of the services sector in the overall economy would lead to a substantial stress on Information Technology and IT enabled services. The void in the provision of public sector facilities for IT education would be more than compensated for by the mushrooming growth of institutions in the private sector to cater to this demand. The use of mass media and distance learning will be greatly enhanced to increase the outreach of the educational institutions specialised in these areas. The use of the electronic media, in particular, for simulated virtual class rooms to increase the reach of the teachers would be greatly enhanced. There would be a paradigm shift in the delivery system of education through these means. The emphasis would be on individual initiative to get educated at the pace at which the individual sets for himself, rather than the rigour of classrooms with limited reach and fixed schedules. The system would be flexible enough to meet the changing needs of rapid economic growth and shifting patterns of employment.
Research and Development in the laboratories and the universities would focus on state-of-the-art technologies, adapting them to local conditions, developing new indigenous ones and enhancing production and productivity. The R&D set up in the universities would be greatly enhanced to inculcate the spirit of research in the minds of the students. There would be a greater stress on sponsored applied research in the universities, apart from the fundamental research. Industry-institutions linkages would be strengthened which would give a boost to research activities and consequent improvement in productivity and production. R&D activities in the private sector would have a substantial presence, as industry and corporates realise the importance of knowledge capital in a knowledge-based economy.
Higher education, including technical and management education, would have high unit costs, consistent with the quality of education imparted. Funding of education, therefore, would be through bank loans, substantially increased tuition fees, and industry and institutional support. There would be higher staff-student ratios and more efficient use of buildings and other infrastructure to suitably reduce the costs.
Most likely scenario
In adult literacy, there is every likelihood of reaching the level of the optimistic scenario. But a substantial, may be upto even 30%-25%, number of the neo-literates would be slipping into illiteracy once again due to lack of infrastructure for continuing literacy programmes. Lack of interest on the part of parents and children, financial constraints, household chores including looking after siblings, economic activities to generate additional income for the family and lack of good infrastructure at the schools would result in limiting the universalisation of elementary education. Continuing poverty for some sections of the society and inaccessible schools would inhibit universal access and enrolment. Instead of 8 years of schooling, perhaps, on an average, there would be only 5-6 years, majority of the children, therefore, getting restricted to only partial primary education, while some would complete the upper primary stage.. The girl child, children of the landless wage earners, SCs and STs, Muslims and those below the poverty line would be the main sufferers. While enrolment may be near universal, retention would be difficult. There would be drop-outs who would require to be covered under the informal system of neighbourhood teachers under the aegis of the panchayats and the local bodies. The gender gap in enrolment may narrow down, but in retention, it will still be significant. The involvement of the community and the panchayats and other local bodies in the management of the government and the government-aided schools would be substantial. The rise of incomes of the rural and the urban poor households would not be enough to prevent drop-outs which may be in the range of 20-25% of the enrolled cohorts. The drop-outs would be after 2-3 years of schooling and would consist mainly of the girl child. The quality of education would not be consistent with the desirable levels of learning in conformity with the requirements of a developing economy. The skills associated with good literacy rate and sound elementary education, so important in a competitive environment, would be deficient by almost 25-30%. The returns on investment in education would also be correspondingly reduced.
The gross enrolment in the secondary and senior secondary would be around 70% with near full access and retention in computer literacy in the urban areas. The rural areas would be deficient in computer literacy, and, thus, the quality of computer literacy for almost 60% of the enrolled students in the secondary and senior secondary level would leave much to be desired. The enrolment of the girl students would increase considerably to match almost the level achieved by the boy students. Vocational and technical education would increase, but the full requirement of the economy would not be meet. On-the-job training of the students would be necessary. There would be considerable improvement in the quality of education I so far as intellectual rigour, spirit of enquiry and scientific temper is concerned. But these would generally be visible in the private schools where the cost of education would be higher. In the government and the government-aided schools, the quality of education would not be as high. Thus, the country would have two streams of students: (i) the brighter type graduating from the private schools who have all the potential to do well in academics, science and technical and management education, and (ii) the not so bright graduating from the government and the government-aided schools who might excel in vocational courses and the lower rungs of technical and managerial functions. A developing economy needs both streams, and, therefore, they would complement each other.
About 40% of the population in the age cohort 18-24 years would be provided tertiary education. Engineering, Medical, Information Technology and Management education would be the first choice of the students. Some would also pursue pure sciences and humanities, with a greater preference for the latter. Female students would be almost equal in number as the male students. There would be considerable emphasis on Information Technology education and education for fulfilling the needs of IT enabled services. Private sector will be dominant in the field of IT and IT enabled services education. The use of mass media, particularly the electronic media, would be greatly enhanced to increase the reach of the teachers and to provide facilities to the self learners at their own pace Despite the anguish expressed in the National Policy on Education 1986, commercialisation of higher and secondary education is on the cards. The quality of education provided by the private institutions would be higher than that provided in the government and government-aided colleges and universities. Deemed universities would proliferate in the private sector. In the tertiary sector also, barring the exceptions of the IITs, IIMs, RECs, IIITs, technical and management education would be of higher quality in the private institutions. The institutions mentioned above are world class and would continue to remain so. Government Medical Colleges and Hospitals would continue to attract the brighter students.
R&D in the universities and the laboratories would increase in scope and depth, but would still be far behind the requirement. Some sponsored research from the industry may well be carried out in the universities and the laboratories, but state-of-the-art technologies research and the frontiers of scientific knowledge would still be carried out in the western sphere. There were in 1997 a total of 10155 applications for patents filed in India by both residents and non-residents. The corresponding figures for China were 12786 for residents and 48596 for non residents ( World Development Report 2000/01). Clearly, we have a long way to go, and the prospect for 2025 does not look rosy. It looks as if we may be able to match the resident number, but in so far as the non residents are concerned, we may be far behind since the FDI inflows do not seem to be picking up to a gale. There would be a distinct need for the universities to take up fundamental research in addition to applied research, as they are likely to fail the ambitions and aspirations of the nation.. The IITs, IIMs, IISc, the various laboratories of CSIR and the laboratories under the umbrella of DRDO will be considerably strengthened and productive. Our hopes for R&D will be on them, though the numbers of scientists and researchers may be less. India had only 149 scientists and engineers per million people engaged in R&D in 1997, while China had 454(World Development Report 2000/01). Here again, by 2025, we may be able to catch up with the level achieved by the Chinese by then.
Optimistic scenario
In an optimistic scenario, there would be universal access to good quality health services which would be adequate and affordable. The distribution of financial costs and the sharing of the burden for the provisioning of such good quality health services would both be fair and just. A proper regulatory system would be in place to ensure quality, cost effectiveness and accountability in the healthcare system. The vulnerable group- children, women, aged and the disabled- would be taken care of in a special manner so that just and equitable health services are made available to them in a timely manner.
There will be a shift from the earlier state-led healthcare system to a participatory one where the private and the public sectors would be involved substantially. The responsibility of the state would get limited to the provisioning of adequate healthcare at the primary, mainly, and, considerably, at the secondary levels. The tertiary and the sophisticated, or the speciality and the super-speciality levels would be mainly the concern of the private sector. Health insurance, to cover the high costs of speciality and super speciality treatment, would evolve into a mix of risk-sharing and risk-pooling tax based system.

Most likely scenario

There would be considerable improvement in the quality of healthcare services provided to the common people. But taking into account the population increase in the coming years, universal access, which is both adequate and affordable, may not be feasible. There would be disparities in the inter- and intra- state population health status. The rural and the urban populations will witness a similar kind of disparities in the provisioning and availability of healthcare facilities. Management of healthcare would be through a mix of private and the public sectors.

It should be possible to achieve some of the National Health Policy 2001 targets for major diseases control. India would be able to control polio and leprosy by 2005 and kalazaar and filariasis by 2010. Also by 2010, blindness prevalence to 0.5% should be possible, although the greying of the population in the coming years may pose some problems. It would, however, not be possible to reduce the growth of AIDS to zero by 2007. There would be around 5 million infected cases by 2015, of which at least 10% would be full blown. Expensive anti-retro viral drugs together with prevalent poverty would make it rather difficult for the patients to get proper treatment, unless, of course, there is a breakthrough in medical research leading to much cheaper drugs, the chances for which appear quite bright. With the DOTS programme, TB menace would disappear as a major communicable disease by 2025. We would be achieving near freedom from the scourge of malaria by 2025.
On the non-communicable diseases front, considerable improvement would have taken place in the detection and treatment of cancer, whose incidence may well be around 14 lakh cases by 2025. Stress related diseases like coronary, diabetes and mental illnesses would be on the increase. About 8-11% of the population could be affected by diabetes by 2025.
It would be possible to reach international standards in regard to MMR by 2025. Levels comparable to China by 2025 would be reached for IMR.
India would have the full potential of a vast public health infrastructure by 2010. The private sector would be more active in the urban areas. For the unorganised sector, replicable models of community based health insurance schemes would be in vogue. Geriatric healthcare would be on the increase in view of the greying of the population.
Security-external and internal
Optimistic scenario
With the war on terrorism launched by the international community as a sequel to the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, terrorism would have been considerably reduced. Cross- border terrorism in J&K would peter out and the Line of Control would have been recognised as the international border. The low cost and low intensity proxy war which Pakistan had been waging against India would have given way to better social and economic ties between the two nations. The border disputes with China would have been resolved and the line of control clearly and finally demarcated to the satisfaction of both countries. Having acquired the nuclear deterrence, obtained self sufficiency in the revolution in military affairs with sophisticated use of the IT in surveillance and precise terminal targetting of missiles, the chances of forceful acquisition of Indian territory by any other state will not be there. India would have been an integral part of a stable global balance of power consisting of the US, EU, Japan, Russia, China and India.
India would have considerably minimised the threats within. International outcry against drug abuse and narcotics trade would have slowed down the activities in the Golden Triangle and the Golden Crescent reducing the risks of money laundering, fake currencies and its malefic influence on people. The funding and fanning of religious and ethnic fundamentalism would have considerably slowed down. The social and economic upliftment would have reduced income and regional disparities. The receptacles of subversive and other terrorist activities of the external forces, particularly the ISI, would have either been eliminated or rendered ineffective. The North East would have been mainstreamed and peace accords would have been signed and implemented effectively. The border disputes with Bangladesh would have been resolved satisfactorily, and the refugee problem contained. Left Wing extremism, manifested as Marxist Communist Centre(MCC) and CPI-ML (People's War Group, Peoples Unity Group and Vinod Mishra Group) with their linkages with the outside guerillas of South America, LTTE and ISI, for the supply of arms, training and money, would have waned with economic growth. Deprivation of the lowest rungs of the society, the main reason for the spread of this form of extremism, would have been considerably minimised, leading to a substantial reduction in such activities.
Most likely scenario
Despite the happenings of September 11, 2001, and the Security Council Resolution 1373 of September 28, 2001, the US is not likely to be drawn into a long war against terrorism. It is more likely to resort to diplomatic, financial and UN based assault on international terrorism in consonance with the Resolution 1373. Pakistan, having failed the clerics and religious fundamentalists in regard to Afghanistan, will, to assuage their feelings, step up cross border terrorism in J&K. But India would try to contain this tendency through the instruments of (a) giving the people of J&K a responsive and responsible government through a free and fair election, (b) good governance, (c) diplomatic endeavours to bring pressure on Pakistan in terms of UN Resolution 1373, and (d) wage its own war against terrorism in J&K and other parts of the country. There would be limited success only in J&K, through the behind-the-scenes manouvres by the US. While the LOC will be recognised as the international boundary between India and Pakistan, the problem in J&K will continue to haunt the State. It would wax and wane depending upon the hold the ruler of Pakistan has on the clerics and the army and his own personal dispensation towards peace initiatives. The proxy war is likely to escalate, and its future course would largely depend upon the political will and courage of Indian leaders to wage its own war against it. There would be a dire need for political sagacity and sensitivities to control and eliminate this menace. Defence preparedness and the state-of-the-art conventional weaponry, albeit at some cost to developmental expenditure, together with the already acquired nuclear deterrence, would provide enough cover against any armed adventurism by the neighbours. The border disputes with China would be narrowed down to the disagreements only, with the agreed areas being clearly demarcated.
With people-centric approach and good governance, India would try to mainstream the NE region. But there would be attempts by the Chinese and the ISI to foment trouble within this region, which is likely to escalate. ISI and the other secessionists groups would strengthen their links in Bangladesh posing further threats to internal security in the NE. The turmoil would also be exploited by the Chinese directly and through the Myanmar route. Peace would continue to be a hostage to politician-bureaucrat-insurgency nexus, and the chaos would be exacerbated by the invidious actions of ISI, other secessionists groups like the ULFA, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland(NDFB), Harkat-ul-Mujaheedin, Muslim Liberation Tigers of Assam(MuLTA) and Islamic Liberation Army of Assam and the Chinese. The NSCN(I-M) would sign an accord with India, but its implementation would pose problems. The healing process would spill over to the period beyond 2025, unless the people-centric policies of the Centre and the State governments start bearing fruit earlier. The social and economic well-being of the people holds the key to the resolution of this problem. Thus the Southern States would be relatively free of this malaise. Naxalites would get confined to Orissa, Bihar, Eastern UP and Jharkhand. While Jharkhand and Orissa will make some headway in controlling this menace, though not totally eliminating it, Bihar and Eastern UP will continue to be ravaged by this scourge. The narcotics trade is not likely to slowdown. Afghanistan will, after the installation of a broad-based government, try to curb opium cultivation, but the mafia in the narcotics trade would find ways and means to duck governmental action. The lures of fake currencies, illegal arms and money laundering are pervasive. They can be contained only with rapid social and economic well-being. This is not likely to happen by 2025. The trade will, therefore, flourish and continue to fan the fundamentalists elements to create confusion and chaos in the social, economic and political order.
Likely levels of violence
Criminal instincts with its various manifestations would continue to exist in 2025 as they are now. Therefore, there is no likelihood of any abatement in the normal types of violence and crimes. If at all, with the possible widening of the gap between the haves and the have-nots in the initial stages of the economic development during the period under review, new manifestations of crimes for the goodies of the new found world will increase. It is only after the social and economic well-being of the population is achieved, that there would be some abatement in these new manifestations of crimes. But this is not likely to take place before 2025. The effects of economic prosperity on such criminal tendencies would only be visible sometime after 2025. Regional disparities, differences in levels of development between states and within states, disparities in income levels between individuals, all these will exacerbate crimes involving abduction for ransom, carlifting, extortion of hafta for providing protective cover and narcotics trade. Urbanisation and the inability of the public utilities systems to cope with the pressures of rapid urbanisation would lead to mobocracy in the cities with an increase in mob violence. With electoral reforms underway, there would be an abatement in political violence, although the tendency would persevere. New subtle manifestations of political violence to defeat the electoral reforms would take birth. Caste and class clashes in the countryside would increase to subserve the political ambitions of a few. With the modernisation of the madrasas and the economic upliftment of the minorities, there is a likelihood of communal clashes to abate, although it would continue to raise its ugly head every now and then . There would be continued and sustained efforts by the ISI, other subversive elements and the disgruntled sections of the population, majority as well as the minority, to create unrest. Efforts to contain the violence against the minorities, including the Muslims and the Christians, would have only partial success.
Optimistic scenario
The growth in the urban population in absolute terms and the rate at which it is increasing is making India as one of the fastest urbanising countries in the world. As stated by the National Commission on Urbanisation, urban growth is the inevitable concomitant of economic change. The provisioning, augmentation and maintenance of urban infrastructure for a good quality of life, and the management of the environment are daunting. In an optimistic scenario, India would have 100% satisfaction level in urban housing needs by 2025, with considerably reduced levels of deprivation. There would be a proper pricing policy in place for efficient use of water so that everyone has adequate quantities of water available for drinking and other purposes. Low cost solutions to sanitation problems would ensure not only access to either private or public toilets, but also the effective collection, carriage and treatment of the sewage generated by the population. The collection, transportation and disposal of solid wastes in sanitary landfills for composting or for biomass generation of electrical power would be near total. Air, water and soil pollution would be within permissible limits, again through the application of market instruments (taxation measures) and use of public transport systems. Poverty, as we know today, would have become a thing of the past A participatory multi-municipal urban agglomeration structure of governance would have been in place to ensure good quality of public services to the urban population. The Metropolitanl Planning Committees, in pursuance of the provisions of 74th amendment of the constitution, would have been in place and fully energised to cater to the emerging demands on urban planning and governance. The State governments would have delegated all the requisite powers under the constitutional provisions to the city government in order to bring about greater accountability and responsiveness in the discharge of the functions enumerated in Schedule XII to the constitution.. Spatially, urbanisation would have been more evenly spaced in order to eliminate regional disparities and income inequalities in the different regions of the country. The existing urban areas would have considerably improved the content of the services offered in order to not only accommodate the densification but also take care of the existing left out portions of the population. The newly emerging urban complexes would from the beginning be well planned to ensure quality services to the inhabitants.
Most likely scenario
From 30% (300 million) of the population living in urban areas in 2000, there would be about 40-42.5% (595 million) of the population in urban areas in 2025. There would be upwards of 75 metropolitan cities, 500 large cities and 4430 medium and small towns by 2025. Bulk of the urban population would be in the metropolitan cities. Apart from the densification of some of the existing cities, bulk of the urban growth would be along the peripheries along multi-nodal transport corridors. Some of the corridors would be continuous, while most of them discontinuous, but easily identifiable. These corridors would follow the directions in which the investments in the services and the manufacturing sectors would take place. The structural changes in the Indian economy unfolded by an increasing role of the services and the manufacturing sectors, alongside a declining contribution of the primary sector to the GDP, will push urbanisation. There would be migration from the rural to the urban areas in search of better quality of employment with consequent increase in the productivity of labour. There would be greater stress on self-employment and the informal sector in the labour market. Natural growth, however, would account for bulk of the increase in the urban population. There would be marked variation in the urbanisation of the states, reflecting their economic growth and social and political maturity. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh will be the most urbanised states. Northern India would see Punjab, Haryana, Western UP urbanising at a faster pace.
The process of urbanisation, however, would leave much to be desired. There would be unplanned and haphazard development forced by narrow visions of the people migrating to the urban areas. Industrial townships, however, would provide welcome relief, where the growth may not only be well planned, but also comprehensive in the provision of basic amenities. But the growth along the peripheries and along the corridors is most likely to be haphazard, with consequential hardships to the residents. Informal settlements would precede formal planned ones. Slums in the cities would grow at a faster pace than the rate of provisioning of the basic services. The unplanning of planned cities would result in squalor for a sizeable, and growing, section of the urban population which would have all the potential of threatening the sustainability of the cities. Stark inequities in access and availability of these basic amenities to different sections of the urban population would only aggravate. New forms of violence and social unrest would manifest themselves as the deprived and excluded sections of the urban population try to assert their right for inclusion and the same set of basic amenities as are available to the elite groups in the cities. Water supply, sanitation, sewerage and solid wastes management would pose serious problems to the city government, solutions for which may not be within easy reach due to financial stringency, administrative incapacity and non availability of suitable land. Imaginative and innovative solutions based on low cost technologies might provide the answer, provided time, space, desire, determination and finance are not constraints in any manner. The congestion may have to be cleared by shifting to new planned settlements in a determined manner. However, it is likely that problems would only aggravate making the urban living demeaning for the rural population that would migrate to the urban areas in search of better livelihoods. The pressure on environment would be severe, with air, water and soil pollution on the increase. We may be running out of good water, land and air. There could be some positive results in some of the older metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. But most of the new metropolitan cities would be affected by degradation of the environment. Lack of availability of land would result in destruction of the green cover to make way for new settlements in the urban agglomerations. Inadequate sewage collection, transport and treatment, bulging stress on the existing infrastructure and insufficient solid wastes management would only exacerbate the problems. Mumbai-Thane, Mumbai-Nasik-Dhule-Amravati-Nagpur, Mehsana-Gandhinagar-Ahmedabad-Vadodara-Bharuch-Surat-Valsad, Chennai-Krishnagiri-Hosur, Coimbatore-Erode-Salem-Krishnagiri, Bangalore-Belgaum,Hyderabad-Ananthpur-Hindupur, Delhi-Jaipur, Amritsar-Jallandhar, Delhi-Chandigarh and Lucknow-Kanpur corridors need special attention as they are likely to be adversely affected.
The chances of complete and total implementation of the provisions of Article 243P to 243ZG (74th amendment) of the Constitution also do not appear to be bright. Most likely there would be only faint-hearted attempts at enforcing these provisions, particularly the ones related to the Metropolitan Planning Committees. The absence of a strong, committed, and financially sound system of municipal governance, including the multi-municipal urban agglomerations, would only result in greater degrees of exclusion and deprivation for a sizeable section of the urban population. While there may be reasonably high satisfaction level in the housing sector, the inequities in the quality of housing to different income groups would exacerbate the sense of being left out. Inadequate public transport systems in most metropolitan cities would increase mobility cost for the deprived and the poor sections of the society. Urban poverty would decrease, if not get eliminated, with rising income levels, but the gap between the elite and the masses would only increase. The private sector would increasingly share the burden of civic governance by providing the basic services at a cost.

Economic stability

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