Ram Rattan Sharma
India has a staggering 600 million people i.e. more than 50 percent of its population below the age of 25,till the latest count, and it is a matter of another couple of years that the nation will become youngest in the world having more than three fourth of its population under 25 years of age. This fraction of our population, responsible for 34 percent of India’s Gross National Income, will definitely be going to demand right educational infrastructure, development of appropriate skills and adequate opportunities to get jobs or become entrepreneurs for the personal, societal and country’s growth. The demographic dividend is never a burden on any nation but a window of opportunity. Empowerment is necessarily a process of inculcating values to equip the learner lead a life that is satisfying to the individual while being in accordance with the cherished values and ideals of the society. Youth empowerment, especially in Indian scenario is imperative not only for national but also for personal development, which can be pursued by promoting youth rights, youth activitism and their active role in making community decision. The key to youth empowerment is to educate them and make them employable. We cannot talk about sustainable development for any nation without the active role of its youth with active hands and heads. Lack of opportunities is just like making them to sit on the margin of society waiting on the train track for a train that may never come. The half a billion strong and growing labour force of our country is poised to play a decisive role in the global skilling ecosystem. According to economic survey, though 63 percent of the population is economically active, only 2 percent of the country’s total makes up its skilled force. In the coming years 11-13 million people will aspire for employment opportunities each year, unfortunately for these large number of people, the employability continues to be a major concern. Young population is a boon if they are properly employed, otherwise they may become a liability for enjoying the fruits of demographic dividend, it is therefore, important to raise investment in human capital to promote the productivity of the population that lives, in its villages. It enjoys a position of pre-eminence for national development, as three fourth of Indian population lives in villages. Indian human resource is primarily based on rural occupation considering that 65 percent of total population in India is under 35 years, the country enjoys immense potential in terms of labour power. Recognizing that training and development shapes empowerment of human resources , the Government has introduced innovative and productive ideas for empowerment of economically and socially vulnerable groups, who merit participation in the mainstream of development process. Channelizing these initiatives to rural India will bring about remarkable development in overall economy of the nation.
For the last three decades, the Govt. has been endeavoring at creation of self employment opportunities by providing credit in subsidized form in programmes such as integrated Rural development programme. Rozgar Yojna, National Rural Livelihood mission etc. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is also one of the programmes which ensures employment of Rural people. However, people residing in rural sector are in sufficiently equipped to absorb credit and to start their own enterprise because of their lack of business skills illiteracy and their inability to take risks and absence of motivation, upgrading their skills and making them employable in the newly emerging industries and trades, is the need of the hour Government is supreme but its programmes have limitations and they alone cannot mobilize all the resources needed for skills upgradition of rural people, stake holders like private organizations, Non Governmental organizations, corporate social responsibility, self help group, social workers, family members and informal community based organizations also contribute to Skill development of the rural people. The Govt. provides funds to strengthen grass root NGOS and other agencies like Panchayati Raj institutions and cooperatives for rural development for preparing project proposals providing training, disseminating information through publications, conducting research, and making evaluation studies. It also provides financial support to grass root NGOs.
There are a number of vocational opportunities, which can change the direction of employment for men and women. The formal education system in India believes in creating opportunities for those who have the resources to access it. The education system does not provide relevant programmes to women who are from lower economic status. Programmes for skilling women are restricted to tailoring incense stick making and soap making etc. Skill development has been given priority by the Government. with the hope that skill India program will provide huge human resources not only in India but also internationally. In India, there are women in families who have inherited traditional skills like making Khesh, Dari, Fulkari from their previous generation and further extend theses traditional skills to the New Generation of the family. These skills are dying because they are not cost effective and hence cannot survive in the competitive market since these products are produced at local level. If these skills can be linked with the livelihood option, then with proper training, packaging and marketing it can survive and provide these people financial independence.
In fact, youth today, is a major resource not only for development of financial prosperity but for social changes as well. The need to empower youth for a better tomorrow is connected both to the financial elevation as well as increase of the standard of living. Awareness is a key factor for this empowerment with guidance towards developing a wholesome outlook of life.
Empowerment ensures that youth has the necessary skill to sustain in a livelihood competition and at the same time preventing them from adopting crime. Today’s young minds should have access to resources to transform their consciousness through their beliefs, values and attitudes, then only can we believe in making our nation “Shine” even in times of adversity”.
(The author is Former Dy Librarian Jammu University)
Ram Rattan Sharma