Below The Poverty Line

The Economist reports on how India is weathering the global recession:

To make a serious dent in poverty, India needs to keep up economic growth of around 8% a year. In the medium term that should not be too difficult. More impressive even than the success of India’s best companies is the zest for business shown by millions of Indians in dusty bazaars and slum-shack factories. They are truly entrepreneurs. It is no coincidence, as is often noted, that Indians have prospered everywhere outside India.

But India’s task remains daunting. Some 65% of Indians live on agriculture, which accounts for less than 18% of GDP. Shifting them to more productive livelihoodsand so reducing povertywould be hard even if the number of people of working age was not growing so fast. Roughly 14m Indians are now being added to the labour market each year, and that number is rising. Half of India’s people are under 25 and 40% under 18 (see chart 2). They cannot all work for Infosys. Indeed, because of India’s historic underinvestment in education, many are not obviously skilled at anything. By one estimate, which may be optimistic, only 20% of job-seekers have had any sort of vocational training. If India cannot find employment for this lot, poverty will not be reduced and India may face serious instability.