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The 21st Century has been correctly identified as the Age of Information. One of the first scholars to recognise the emergence of this megatrend was the American futurist John Naisbitt.Exactly three decades ago, in 1982, Naisbitt in his book, Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives predicted the dawn of the technology age and the rise of information technology.

The globalization of the economy was an important megatrend that he anticipated then. His prediction that nations would no longer be able to prosper economically by isolating themselves with an inward looking economy, but would have to become part of a global economy, proved right in the years to come.

The emergence and impact of the Chinese and other Asian economies, the rise of small businesses and speed as a competitive weapon were identified as other important changes that were set to sweep the world. As Naisbitt noted, economies of scale would “give way to economies of scope, finding the right size for synergy, market flexibility and above all, speed."

Megatrends impact and affect our lives fundamentally and in more ways than. Some of the megatrends that we see in India today are as follows:

  1. Indian Economy on the Upswing: Indian markets, the Indian economy and Indian businesses have begun scaling up significantly, especially in the sectors of telecom, automobiles, commercial space. Infrastructure, healthcare and multi-brand retail are also expected to register a significant growth.

    The India Brand Equity Foundation has noted that IT would continue to be a growing sector and job creator, projected to touch turnover of $225 billion by 2010. The Indian telecom sector already has 850 million mobile phone subscribers; more mobile phones than toilets or bank accounts.

    According to a report by the All India Management Association, Boston Consulting Group and the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) the growing healthcare sector is expected to employ more than 40 million people by 2020.

    Frost & Sullivan in its report titled 'Strategic Assessment of Small and Light Commercial Vehicles Market in India'  has noted that the Indian small and light commercial vehicle segment is expected to grow at 18.5 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the next five years. India is emerging as the small car manufacturing hub for the world and a strong automotive R&D hub with foreign players like Hyundai, Suzuki, General Motors setting up base here.

    Another high growth sector is the Direct-to-Home satellite TV market which is expanding rapidly in rural India. Broadcast & Cable Sat has noted that this market is projected to touch 45 million subscribers by 2014, up from the 36 million expected to touch in 2012, making it a bigger DTH market than the US. This has had a tremendous impact on mindsets across the country. One research paper by economists Robert Jensen and Emily Oster states that villages with cable TV are showing lower acceptance of domestic violence and reduced son preference.

  2. Growth of the Middle Class: An established megatrend that is showing its impact on all sectors of Indian life- be it urbanization, consumerism or politics. According to projections by the New Delhi-based think tank, the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) by 2015-16, India would have 53.3 million middle class households with a strength of 267 million people. These households would have an annual income between Rs 3.4 lakh to Rs 17 lakh (at 2009-10 price levels). As per 2000-01 prices, middle class classification was based on annual income of Rs 2-10 lakh. In 2011, India had 31.4 million middle class households (160 million individuals. This growth in the middle class would lead to a huge demand for products such as cars, televisions, computers, air-conditioners, microwave ovens and credit cards.

  3. Adverse Impact on Environment: The expansion of the economy, growth of markets and production and the rise of urbanization would throw up its own challenges on the environmental front. This would be in the form of pollution, greater stress on land use and water resources, demanding sustainable solutions.

  4. Rising Disparities: The Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and other economists such as Jean Dreze have expressed concern about the rising divide between the rich and poor amidst the pursuit for double-digit growth. This view has been challenged by Rajesh Shukla, director NCAER-Macro Consumer Research. According to him,  data has shown a big reduction in rural poverty during the high growth period 2004-05 to 2007-08. The high growth states of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have shown a faster pace of decline in rural poverty than urban poverty. In contrast, urban poverty declined at a faster pace in Bihar, Orissa and Chattisgarh, possibly because the immediate benefits of high growth in these states were mostly felt in the urban areas. He has stressed that removing inequality-causing distortions while pursuing growth would be a continuing challenge.

  5. Demographic Dividend or Liability? One of India’s distinct advantages over many countries is its young population with more than half of India's 1.3 billion people below the age of 30. While this means that the nation has a robust and productive work force, this demographic dividend could turn into a liability without a growth in infrastructure, employment opportunities and skills upgradation of the youth through better education and vocational training.

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