The steam engine (and its successor, the internal combustion engine) heralded the industrial revolution that led to economic growth in the West. These engines required fuel - coal and petroleum. As the industrialised countries exhausted their own sources of supply they turned increasingly to other sources, which resulted in the economic growth of the supplying countries, such as the oil producing countries of the Middle East. This pattern is unfolding again. The growth paradigm of Western economies requires another kind of fuel – knowledge workers and skilled professionals. For example, U.S. growth rates of the 1990s are primarily attributed to productivity increases enabled by a highly skilled workforce. In the next two decades developed countries will face a shortfall of fuel (skilled professionals) and once again will have to look towards developing countries to make up the shortfall.
India has a distinct comparative factor advantage as a vast reservoir of skilled manpower. The demographic differentials reveal that over the next 20-30 years, India has distinct advantages in a population profile concentrated in the younger age group, where many new opportunities can be fully optimised.
What are the policies that would enable India to optimise these emerging opportunities and what should we as a nation do in concert so that we turn out to be winners and not losers?