by: Manjari Chatterjee Miller and
India has one of the world’s largest youth populations. This trend is an asset as long as young people can receive an education and develop their skills.
This interview with Anita Rajan is part of the Asia program’s Women’s Voices from the Indo-Pacific Project, produced by Senior Fellow Manjari Chatterjee Miller and Research Associate Clare Harris, featuring influential women in India’s political, economic, technological, and social fields whose work matters for the U.S.-India bilateral relationship and India’s relationship with the world.
Anita Rajan is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Tata STRIVE and vice president of Tata Community Initiatives Trust. Tata STRIVE is a leading skill development player in the social sector. Ms. Rajan has been with the Tata Group for twenty years. She worked closely with the CEO of Tata Consultancy Services for thirteen years and has been with Tata STRIVE since its inception in 2014, initially serving as its chief operating officer. Her experience in skill development comes through supporting the advisor to the Prime Minister on Skill Development and the chairman of the National Skill Development Corporation. She holds a BA in math from St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi, a BA in education from Mumbai University, and an MBA in marketing from the Sydenham Institute of Management Studies.
Ms. Rajan cares deeply about providing opportunities for India’s youth to acquire the education and skills they need in order to lift up both themselves and their families.
What do audiences in the United States commonly misunderstand about the intersection of education, employment, and the youth bulge in India?
I think it is important to understand the potential of India’s young talent if they are provided with the right skills, the right education, and the right opportunities for employment. Young people in India today want a better life for themselves and their families and are willing to work for it. They view education and training as their pathway to better livelihoods.
This workforce has huge potential not just for India, but for the world. Indian talent has already made a significant contribution to the information technology sector in the United States, demonstrating what this talent can do.
700 million people or fifty percent of our population are now technology-savvy. With the increasing pervasiveness of the internet, our children are becoming much more aware about the jobs available to them. For example, in smaller towns we have a lot of young girls who are aspiring to become cybersecurity experts. This would have been unheard of a few years ago.
Another important point to understand about India is its growing middle class. We have a large middle class who are huge consumers and drivers of domestic growth. India is therefore a great place to invest.
All these factors point to a nation with huge potential.
At the same time, given the numbers entering the workforce each year—over ten million—the current level of jobs will not suffice. Moreover, India’s youth bulge is in regions where jobs may not be, causing migration to urban areas. The issue is thus how to make these young people aware of all the growth sectors in India, both rural and urban, and the different kinds of jobs they can choose so that they are able to explore and rise to their potential.