India spends less than one percent of GDP on care work infrastructure and services. In view of the statement, explain how increased public investment in care economy infrastructure can be instrumental in meeting multiple policy objectives.

With less than 1% investment in the care economy, it has remained a large domestic and informal work. Increased public investment in care economy infrastructure can be instrumental in meeting policy objectives:

  • Old age – India’s old age population is set to rise to 20% of the population by 20250 and needs support structure in the form of old age homes, healthcare, etc.
    • This increment will not only ensure the well-being of older people but also ensure that their economic contribution continues.
    • Cochin provides a class for homecare community Dementia Health Workers. This model can be emulated.
  • Children – Children show high stunting of 35.5% and underweight 19%, showing the need for investment in childcare (NFHS 5).
    • Investment in Anganwadis has already benefitted 76 million children and can further improve health indicators.
    • ASHA workers can be trained for preschool education as well, leading to early childhood care and education which is also the goal of the National Education Policy.
  • Mental Healthcare – WHO called India as world’s most depressing country, with 1 in 7 Indians showing mental health issues.
    • Currently, India spends only 33 paise on each mental health patient, highlighting the need to increase investment in mental healthcare.
  • Women’s work – Currently 90% of care work is performed by women, which is unpaid as well.
    • Investment in care infrastructure can increase women’s participation in the formal economy and increase India’s GDP by 27% (IMF).

Thus, investment in the care economy can have multiple benefits for society as a whole.

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