The successive decennial census being conducted in the country has revealed two features of the nation’s population triggering debates in different circles highlighting concerns about both. One is the predominant presence of youth in the total headcount portrayed as a mass of human resources with potential to generate an economy many times of the currently estimated contribution from this section. The opportunities to reach that potential, officially stated as five trillion dollars’ worth in the next five years, to earn third place behind USA and China, should prompt the land’s youth to sit up and get into action by overcoming hurdles and challenges by falling in line with the Napoleonic diktat that the word impossible is in the dictionary of fools. The second feature of the data thrown up by the census, namely declining presence of females as a ratio to that of males in the total population of the country, has caused greater attention to be bestowed in various circles that count on raising female presence in different democratic bodies, Parliament downwards, corporates and the wage-earning sections at large.
Whether numerical equality of genders in human population is a natural phenomenon or it has to be so as an ideal are matters that can be debated till the cows come home as it were. Also, to what extent human intervention can achieve that equality and what are the pragmatic options are issues that cannot be taken lightly, considering the complexity of factors impacting both.
The national task of harnessing the energies of the nation’s youth, currently estimated at half its total headcount of 1.40 billion (140 crore) seems to be on right track, namely establishment of centres to impart various skills in the youth, including both genders. However, the issue of empowering female section, being vigorously pursued in many pockets across the country, including Karnataka, doesn’t seem to have taken off the ground. Lest anyone get the impression that country’s women are in the same class as their male counterpart in respect of being engaged in economically productive activity, one is obliged to remind the hearth in virtually every home across the country continues to be manned by women, apart from their major presence on fields producing nation’s food crops.
In the backdrop of foregoing scenario, providing only a glimpse of the plight of female population in our times, the media reports of women wage-earners facing hardships of the kind that don’t need elaboration, don’t see males in good light. This feature has all signs of worsening as gender inequality remains unaltered.