In the last 50 years, the population in the whole of Himalayan region has increased by more than 32 million people and it is likely to increase by 13 fold by 2061. The population in IHR (Census 2011) is 46, 96, 1740 and has recorded a population decadal growth rate (2001-2011) of 17.34%. The growth rate has been on the rise in areas of higher elevation, therefore it needs more attention now than earlier.
According to recent estimates the IHR’s socio-economic indicators show that the Average HDI (Human Development Index) is 0.561 which is low, but the region has a high literacy rate of 78.73 percent with sound environmental conditions, it’s Environment Sustainability Index is 60-80%. Endowed with abundant natural resources, the IHR has 56% of the catchment area of major river basins in India,it occupies 39.9 percent forestland while 19.6 percent of it’s land is under agricultural activities.
The region holds immense potential to grow by making the natural resources economically viable without causing ecological disbalance. At present the North-East Region (NER) contributes 3% to India’s GDP, Uttarakhand contributes 1.30%, Himachal Pradesh’s share is 0.82% and J&K (before formation of UTs) contributes 0.81% to the GDP of the country. It is seen that NER itself contains 40% of the country's total hydro potential. Also, as India dreams to become a Solar Superpower, it can towards the IHR region as a model for innovation in renewables. The Largest Solar Power plant set up in Tripura is all set to turn Agartala into a solar city. Besides, 8 other cities in the IHR are set to become solar cities. Tourism is another sector which has contributed immensely to the GDP of the country while improving employability in the region. By 2025, IHR is likely to see a footfall of 240 million tourists, which is 2.5 times the current arrivals.
In its forecast for the IHR region, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has identified for the period between 2017-2021 an immense potential for human resource demand rise in the horticulture/agriculture/allied industries(upto 34%), handloom/handicrafts and textile (upto 14%), construction/construction material (upto 13%), hospitality (upto 8%) , education(upto 6%) and manufacturing (upto 7%). While in the other sectors a rise in demand of 15% for human resources is expected in-sericulture and rubber, food processing, banking, healthcare, mining, automobile, real estate, postal and communications, hydropower/power, IT/ITES, border trade, unorganised, and miscellaneous. Linking ecology with economy in all of these sectors is likely to improve people to people connectivity as well as open further channels towards a sustainable development in the region.