he principal objective of development planning is human development and the attainment of higher standard of living for the people. This requires a more equitable distribution of development benefits and opportunities, better living environment and empowerment of the poor and marginalised. There is special need to empower women who can act as catalysts for change. In making the development process inclusive, the challenge is to formulate policies and programmes to bridge regional, social and economic disparities in as effective and sustainable a manner as possible. The Eleventh Five Year Plan sought to address this challenge by providing a comprehensive strategy for inclusive development, building on the growing economic strength of the economy in the past decades. This strategy has to be continued and consolidated further in the Twelfth Five Year Plan. The Approach Paper to the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-17) rightly stresses the need for more infrastructural investment with the aim of fostering a faster, sustainable and more inclusive growth.
13.2 India is passing through a phase of unprecedented demographic changes. These demographic changes are likely to contribute to a substantially increased labour force in the country. The Census projection report shows that the proportion of working age population between 15 and 59 years is likely to increase from approximately 58 per cent in 2001 to more than 64 per cent by 2021. In absolute numbers, there will be approximately 63.5 million new entrants to the working age group between 2011 and 2016. Further, it is important to note that the bulk of this increase is likely to take place in the relatively younger age group of 20-35 years. Such a trend would make India one of the youngest nations in the world. In 2020, the average Indian will be only 29 years old. Comparable figures for China and the US are 37, 45 for West Europe, and 48 for Japan. This ‘demographic dividend’