Crunch in China, India

THIS is as incredible as those classic man-bites-dog tales. China, a country of 1.3 billion people and long known for cheap and abundant labour, is facing a shortage of manpower. Even though official statistics by the Communist government continue to talk of 150 million people in the countryside looking for jobs, the world’s fastest growing economy is already beginning to show disturbing signs of serious human resource crunch.

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Published: Tue 30 May 2006, 10:53 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:21 PM

Ditto in India, another emerging giant of one billion people that is often seen as one of the two superpowers of the future —the other being the red China, of course. In fact, Boston Consulting Group, a US-based consultancy, predicts that the world’s biggest democracy will be hardest hit by such a crisis with a shortage of at least 47 million hands by 2020 staring it in the face.

This is a crisis of global proportions and implications. With labour charges and wages in India and China being 70 to 80 per cent cheaper than the US and Europe, any shortage hitting these two emerging economies could have a cascading effect on the rest of the world —and global economy.

There may be lessons in this for the countries that have traditionally looked at their growing population as a burden, rather than as a boon. Apparently, there is indeed strength in numbers.

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