Occupationally, 75 percent of the civilian labour force, which is currently estimated at 56 million, is directly or indirectly engaged in agriculture. Only 12 percent is engaged in industry. Unemployment is estimated at around 18.5 percent. In terms of age structure, it is more youthful than in the western countries. Heavy pressure of population on scarce land has no doubt created an extremely unfavourable land-man ratio.
Coupled with this is the problem of unequal distribution and heavy fragmentation of land in the rural areas. This is expected to improve with more vigorous efforts at poverty alleviation and raising of educational and social consciousness. Sluggishness of the agricultural sector has resulted in its increasing dependence on the whims of nature and the per capita daily availability of food grains coming down to low level of 432 gram. Nearly 45% of the people live below the poverty line.
As the country steps to the 21st century, it aims at accelerated economic growth, human resource development and self-reliance. Central to all the efforts to reach those targets will be poverty alleviation, rural development, involving women in all national activities and creating a well-educated healthy nation to be able to face up to the challenges of a fast moving technologically advanced global society.