The Week That Was:

From: Vartaa Editorial Team on Apr 3, 2016

Flyover collapse in Kolkata

The death toll in the Kolkata Flyover (bridge) collapse has now reached 26. Questions are being asked over whether CM Mamata Banerjee was aware of the construction firm's irregularities during her time as the Railway Minister under the UPA. The collapse of the under-construction flyover has led to political tussle in the poll bound West Bengal.The Kolkata Police is meanwhile looking to frame murder charges against officials of the construction firm.

Upcoming Assembly Elections

Its time for the election roulette in India again as West Bengal and Assam get set to go to Assembly polls in the coming week. Phase 1 of the elections will see a handful of seats in Assam and West Bengal casting votes. The BJP is hoping to topple the incumbent Congress in Assam while in West Bengal, CM Mamata Banerjee is looking to secure a second consecutive term in office.

PM's Saudi visit and helpline for expat in Mideast

PM Modi commenced a tour of Saudi Arabia this past week. Chief amongst his actions were addressing the concerns of India's large expat community in the middle-east which has had to face isolated incidents of violence against it. The PM announced a 24x7 helpline for Indian expats while also making a plug for the Indian model of development and the country's political stability.

Opinions you must read:

  • The Hindu comments on the central government's new found tendency to impose President's Rule across opposition ruled states. .
  • TIn light of the Vijay Mallya controversy, Mint analyses how a bankruptcy code can protect lenders in India.
  • Virat Kohli single handedly kept India going in the recent World T20. Read this piece to appreciate his evolution as a batsman.

Chart of the Week

Much has been said about population growth in India and how China has successfully "managed" the problem. At first blush, it does seem like India has a population growth problem. In year 2000, the gap between the population of the 2 countries was 210 million. By 2014, India had closed the gap to almost 70 million. According to the World Bank, as of 2014 China's population was 1,365 billion and India's population was 1,295 billion. However, there is more to the story than total population.

India's fertility rate has been falling dramatically. Fertility rate is the average number of births per woman. The replacement fertility rate is " total fertility rate at which women give birth to enough babies to sustain population levels." The global average for this rate is roughly 2.33. As you can see from the chart, India's fertility rate has fallen from 3.3 to 2.5 and continues to fall. This is an encouraging development. This means India's population growth is slowing down and could soon reach stable levels. Thanks to the broad implementation of the 'One Child" policy, China's fertility rate is 1.66. In fact it is so low that China will not sustain its current population in the long run. This is not great news for the country because the proportion of the aging population will continue to grow and that of the working age population (15-64 years of age) will continue to fall.

If you toggle to the "Population ages 15-64, % of total" chart, you can see that in China, since 2011 this proportion has been falling. This has serious implications for a manufacturing powerhouse such as China which depends on its low cost workforce to propel its economy. This was largely why, last year China abandoned the "One Child" policy. For India, this number has been steadily increasing. This is sometimes referred to as the 'Demographic Dividend' by economists.

The throngs of people in public places in every major Indian city can be overwhelming, and may lead us to believe that India's population problem is insurmountable. On the contrary, recent data paints a hopeful picture. If current trends continue, India's population will stabilize over the coming decades and the large pool of working age population could very well power the country's growth engine.

*Chart renders best on Desktop. We publish a modified version for phone.