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India’s Demographic Dividend May Already Have Become Its Demographic Drag: Dr Subhash Bijlani

A well known Indian academic and business leader has claimed that the much touted demographic dividend of the country may already have become its demographic drag because of the failure to skill its youth in good time.

Addressing the inaugural session of a conference on “Strategies For India@75 – Translating Aspirations Into Reality” as part of the 125th anniversary celebrations of CII at its northern region headquarters in Chandigarh last Friday, Dr Subhash Bijlani, past Chairman, CII Northern Region, and President, Magnus Consulting Pvt. Ltd., said India should by now have already embarked on an annual growth path of 8-9% in its quest to become a 5 Tn US $ economy by 2024-25. “While the dream is not in question, how we put the pieces together is,” he emphasised.

India’s Demographic Dividend May Already Have Become Its Demographic Drag: Dr Subhash Bijlani, Lifeinchd

Comparing the state to a company, he said the strength and success of both lies not in framing strategies and vision documents, which are the easiest things to do, but in implementation. He gave the example of several big US companies which went down because of bad implementation, despite having great strategies. Raising the dismal implementation of various police reforms commission recommendations s and the Child Labour Law in India, he said a big disconnect is for everyone to see. “Meticulous implementation of laws, policies and programmes will eventually decide whether we swim or sink,” he opined.

Suggesting that the country learn from our armed forces the art of training and skilling, he said in his opinion General OP Malhotra (retd), Governor of Punjab in early 1990s, and JF Ribeiro, state police chief in the late 1980s, did this to great effect during the height of terrorism in the border state.

Tracing the 125 years history of CII, ever since it began its journey in 1895 with five engineering firms, all members of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, joining hands to form the Engineering and Iron Trades Association (EITA), Dr Bijlani said the story of CII has been the story of the economic development of the country itself.

He was all appreciation for CII Northern Region, which is into its 25 years, for doing a great  job in championing the cause of the industry and trade in the region. He shared with the gathering that the foundation stone of CII’s Northern Region headquarters was laid in 1992, when Surendra Nath was the Punjab Governor and Beant Singh Chief Minister, and the building was inaugurated by then Union Finance Minister P. Chidambram in 1995.

Chandigarh Police DG Sanjay Baniwal

Director General of Chandigarh Police Sanjay Baniwal, in his emotionally charged up address, most of it in Hindi, said “during my 33 years in service I have learnt not to keep expectations from the country, but to concentrate on what I can do for it, and what role I need to play. We should be ever thankful for being born in a ‘behatareen’ (marvelous) country and be proud of our rich inheritance and culture.”

Challenging the societies which have traditionally looked down on India as a subservient society, and asserting that they had no right to give us lessons in human rights and issues of governance, Baniwal said since ages Indians have shown great wisdom and skills. The towering pillar at Mehrauli (Delhi), a great combination of rust-resistant metals, and many other such masterpieces, are shining examples of India’s advanced knowledge and skills, he added.

For ages, he asserted, this country has practised the highly evolved concept of ‘Sanatana Dharma’, a way of life to ensure the continuity of humanity on the Earth. Such a society cannot be inferior to any other, he emphasised.

Expressing confidence that the youth in India has the strength of knowledge and skills to take the country to its pinnacle, building on a strong foundation inherited from previous generations, Baniwal, at the same time, cautioned them against being distracted by actions like burning of buses and government property and atrocities on women and other weaker sections of society, which were clearly disrespectful to the nation.

He was of the view that people in high offices and positions need to lead by example. As DG of Chandigarh police his greatest challenge is to endear the police force to all sections of the society, which it is currently not, he said, adding that he is using technology as a tool to overcome this challenge. “You have to keep at it. Even small-small efforts made persistently will one day lead to impactful outcomes,” he maintained.

Shedding a typical regimental ‘fauji’ style, Chief of Staff, Headquarters West Command Lt Gen GS Sangha lightened the atmosphere in a jovial fashion as he began his address. He recounted: “I was wondering why my wife (unlike other days) was not cross with me this morning. Happy Valentine’s Day!” he wished the gathering, and the conference hall erupted in laughter.

Picking up strings RM Khanna, another Past Chairman, CII Northern Region, and Managing Director, Stanley Engineering Pvt. Ltd., who was chairing the inaugural session, quipped “We will have a bouquet sent to her immediately, Sir!” “You would save my life!” the General remarked in thanksgiving. Another round of laughter followed.

Lt Gen GS Sangha

Coming to the topic of the conference, the General said a strong indigenous defence industry is the need of the hour, and it is being accorded top priority by the country. “Some of our adversaries have moved far ahead of us in this field. Therefore, the defence forces are urgently looking for cutting edge R&D in hi-tech weaponry to close the gap. In this endeavour the armed forces have opened their doors to the private sector and young innovators, researchers and startups.

“We stand fully committed to open our field firing ranges and terrains for field trials of equipments developed by the private sector for the defence forces. We are also committed to certifying the quality of defence equipment developed, even if there may not be an immediate requirement for it for the Indian armed forces, so that these can be sold to armed forces in friendly countries.”

Informing the gathering that the world spend 1822 Bn US$ on defence in 2018, which was 2% of the global GDP, he said there is a great opportunity for the country to step up and claim a sizable share of defence exports. The Ministry of Defence has set a target of Rs 35,000 crore in defence exports for 2024, and this would be in addition to the indigenous demand for defence procurements, he added.

Gen Sangha said the government has put in place a forward looking defence procurement programme, and progressively indigenous spares are being inducted. Artillery guns are a perfect example of indigenisation, but the country has to go far. Towards this direction, the decision to set up two defence industrial corridors in the country is the single most important policy initiative taken by the government, he emphasised.

Making the Army Design Bureau as a single point of contact for the private defence industry is another major step to simplify the process of engagement, he added.

Asserting that the armed forces are always in a state of readiness, he echoed their philosophy saying “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” He ended his address with a firm commitment from the armed forces to win future wars with Indian equipment.

Haryana Agri Minister Jai Parkash Dalal

India’s Demographic Dividend May Already Have Become Its Demographic Drag: Dr Subhash Bijlani, Lifeinchd

While agreeing that the country has so far not been able to progress at a desirable pace, and that there are several inherent problems in our systems at the government and societal level, Haryana Agriculture & Farmer Welfare Minister Jai Parkash Dalal said he is a firm believer that despite all these irritants the country is progressing well and has a bright future ahead.

The pace of progress in any country is set by the political leadership. When the leadership is weak, the progress slows down, and when it is strong, as the one being provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the pace of progress is hastened, he stressed.

Giving the example of Haryana, which was formed by bifurcating the then undivided Punjab state in 1966 and initially dismissed as an unviable state lacking resources, he said the state forged ahead of others, riding on strong political leadership provided by consecutive chief ministers. Electrification, road network, irrigation canals and strengthening of education infrastructure happened at a brisk pace, which attracted industry, he asserted.

He advocated that instead of constantly cursing ourselves, and pulling ourselves down in the process, the youth, who are the future of the country, must adopt a positive approach towards taking the country to new heights of progress and prosperity.

Giving an example of resolve from his own ministry, he said an international fruit and vegetable market to be established at Ghanaur in Sonipat district has been hanging fire for the past 12 years. Land was acquired for the purpose but it was diverted for industrial use when polluting units were being phased out of the national capital.

Later another parcel of land was acquired, and still nothing happened. After taking over as minister he has insisted that the department give him two dates – one for starting work on the project and second for completing it. Come what may, the project will be up and running in the shortest possible time, the minister said emphatically.

In his introductory remarks, RM Khanna said, for a nation 75 years is a very young and dynamic age, and India looks set to take that big leap into the future. Dwelling on the role of the CII Northern Region headquarters, set up in Chandigarh with a view to help develop industry and commerce in the region, he said it has stood out because of the unflinching objectivity with which it has been able to present its views in the overall interests of the nation and the industry.  by APR Media House is an enjoyable digital reading startup, which keeps you abreast of the latest meaningful happenings of interest to large sections of folks in Chandigarh tricity, and expats from the region. It has been promoted by a public spirited senior journalist and media consultant with a view to encourage good quality and healthy journalism, a dire need of the times.

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