Honourable Prime Minister Modiji,

I write this letter with fear and anxiety. The abject failure of governments in the past 40 years is leading our great nation into a demographic nightmarish situation. Though your government isn’t solely responsible, you may well be handling this problem in the coming decade.

You have repeatedly acknowledged about the promise that India holds because of our demographic dividend. India has the most number of people in an age group which can contribute productively to the Gross Domestic Product. A cursory glance at the data shows that we are most likely to have a nightmare in our hands. It is a volcano that is slowly but steadily building up and will erupt within our generation, in our lifetime.

Sir, Look at the numbers.

1. We have about 259.5 million students between Class 1 to Class 12.

2. Another 34 million students are pursuing higher education.

3. Add another 50 million who are unemployed or under employed.

Sir, By 2028, India needs to create 343.5 million jobs for just those who pass through our education system. The rising education costs would mean that many will have loans to be repaid to our banking system. And we are not even talking of uneducated and unemployed. Simply put, India is not up to the task.

1. In 2015, India added the fewest organised-sector jobs in the last 7 years across 8 industries.

2. The contribution of unorganised sector jobs in 2017 will rise to 93%. And 60% of those with jobs do not find employment for the entire year, indicating chronic underemployment.

3. To add to our woes, global advisory firm McKinsey & Company even talks of 60% of our Information Technology workforce becoming irrelevant. We now have a problem of job losses instead of job creation.

4. A report by consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Pvt Ltd says the number of Indians in US looking for jobs in India went up 10-fold.

5. In the last couple of months, we saw our bellwether IT sector laying off people, freezing recruitment and hiring lesser number of people. Banks, manufacturing, SMEs and MSMEs (small and medium enterprises and micro, small & medium enterprises) are all recruiting lesser than before. From Wipro to Larsen & Toubro to HDFC, lay offs are the new normal. Startups are laying off by the thousands. The formation of companies has slowed to 2009 levels, and existing companies are growing at 2%, the lowest in many years.

First priority

And all this Sir, though not your doing, you will have to face.

We need to prioritise job creation over everything else. That must be the only metric that India should look at: How many jobs have we added? In annual reports, in revenue reports, in measuring growth, in ministry reports and appraisals and to judge government achievements. Nothing else matters. Everything else is data. Job creation is real.

Sir, we have a nightmarish situation ahead. By 2045, we will have more unproductive people than productive ones. We will have more employable but unemployed than employed ones. We will have more unemployable than employable. We have been in the “demographic dividend” state for two decades now. And we enter a “demographic nightmare” situation in two decades from now. We need to create 30 million jobs per year and with each passing year, we are adding to a backlog.

It is time we deal with the problem, head on. We cannot fail the nation, its youth and the promise of a better tomorrow. It is time we relook at our priorities. The nation looks to you. And the youth trusted you. And I sincerely hope you will prioritise this over every other problem and win over it.

Sincerely yours

Maheshwer Peri