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Population Bulge Tests India's Growth Aspirations

And as India's growth rate lags its potential, it's an ever bigger task for private companies to absorb the fast rising number of young job seekers. Despite low wages, foreign companies aren't rushing in to plug the gaps, wary of unpredictable turns in government policy, frequent strikes and other negatives.

Driven by their exposure to television and films showing the good life, young jobseekers have rising aspirations. Their inability to reach them is leading to enormous frustration.

Kumar gets hired by the day as a laborer with a house painting crew, sending part of his meager earnings back to his parents, itinerant farm workers.

Every six months he heads back to the exchange to renew his registration.

"My hopes are high. Each day I get by on hope," he said.

Seconds later, fatalism took over. "Whether I succeed or not, that is in God's hands."

There is concern that if growing numbers of young people in India do not find employment, or if they find themselves in dead-end jobs, the risk of political violence escalates, said Ashish Bose, a leading population expert.

India's economic and regional inequalities along with age-old caste, religious and class tensions provide ample cause for disgruntled young people to find a grievance to rally around, with the danger of them resorting to extremism.

India, with the world's largest chunk of illiterates at over 250 million, has to invest massively in technical and academic education, said Bose.

"Anyone who has some skill is potentially employable," he said.

Employment analysts say only 15 percent of working age Indians have the skills needed to find a good job â¿¿ a deficit the government is trying to address through public-private partnerships focused on worker training. But with millions of young people entering the job market each year, the sheer numbers dwarf any government-sponsored program to impart skill training to first time job seekers.

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