Youth power

For our country, this is the era of youth. Development and progress in any sector is closely linked to the status of our youth population. The educational standard, skill, efficiency and merit of the youth are decisive factors in our effort for maintaining the pace of development and economic advancement. Therefore our policy planners have to dovetail all developmental and innovative programmes to the input from the youth. This highlights the importance of education, skills, proficiency and technological training of our youth. Maybe it also means radical change in our education system in a way that larger number of youth is equipped with such skills as would help them earn and improve their standard of living. Initially, maximum attention has to be focused on education. While education has to be provided to our youth who form the largest group between 10 and 24 years of age in the world, it has to be of standard and quality. Enormous task lies ahead of our educationists.
We have 356 million youth in the age group of 10-24 and it is the largest youth population in the world. Experts are of opinion that poorer the country larger the number of youth in this age group. Thus China has larger population than we have but she is second in respect of youth population in the above state age group and that is 269 million. Detail statistics have been provided by the United Nations Population  Fund’s (UNFPA) State of the World’s Population report about the number of youth in some of the countries of the world.
But there is a brighter side of the picture also. Young people are the innovators, creators, builders and leaders of the future. But they can transform the future only if they have skills, health, decision-making, and real choices in life.
Today’s record 1.8 billion young people present an enormous opportunity to transform the future. It will be reminded that Prime Minister Modi has been repeatedly speaking of youth power in our country where we have such a large number. If they are properly educated, skilled and trained, they can work for a longer span of life and thus contribute to rapid development of the country. This is an asset of which the nation shall have to make proper use. Only India does not expect great change in social and economic life to be effected by her educated and skilled youth, the world at large, too, envisions unprecedented change. A record 1.8 billion young people of the world today present an enormous opportunity to transform the future.
Obviously our policy planners will have to focus on youth development and a sizeable portion of country’s annual budget has to be earmarked for education, training and employment of the youth. It has also to be noted that if the future life of the youth and utilization of this potential is not given due thought and space, there is likelihood of this large portion going astray. We need to devise means that discourage the youth from negative thinking or action.
Another aspect of growing youth population especially in developing countries is the phenomenon called youth dividend. It means the large number of youth leaving their native countries and travelling to foreign countries where they find better educational prospects and opportunities of employment that would give them fairly good standard of living, education, health and other amenities. China, India and South Korea are some of the foremost countries wherefrom large numbers of youth are moving to western countries especially US, UK and Australia for education and career making. The youth dividend is beneficial to the exporting as well as the importing countries. Good deal of capital also moves along with the youth who are on the move.  Between 2000 and 2010, the number of students enrolled in universities outside of their own country rose from 2 million to 3.6 million.
With right policies and investments in human capital, countries can empower young people to drive economic and social development and boost per-capita income. This paves the path for political and economic empowerment of the youth.
In our country, we have a vast scope of providing space to the youth for fruition of their talent. Take the area of sports. It is sad that we are not able to win a gold in Olympic Games although we have the largest number of youth below 35 in the world. While we have focused on cricket, our boys have shown remarkable capacity of winning the world cup. This means that there is no dearth of talent among our youth but the question is of providing them adequate opportunity, space and facilities to develop the skills. Likewise, in technocratic field, our youth have the capacity not only to pick up the skills but even demonstrate creative faculty as well. Our policy planners have to change their attitude of treating the youth not as burden for the society but as its asset. The Governments should not become jittery if the youth demonstrate on the streets and demand certain privileges. They have aspirations and they need space for creativity. Demographic dividend is the reality of modern world. Innovations and research in major branches of knowledge as well as in Science and Technology are strong catalysts to youth mobility, and these need to be properly harnessed in the interests of the nation and the world.
But we will add a word of caution especially for our national and regional political class. A very unhealthy trend that has developed in our country lately is that of using the youth power for political ends, either for the party or for the individual. This is highly objectionable and stupendous disservice to the interest of the nation. The youth have to be harnessed for creative and positive role and not for negative and destructive role for which the political class tried to goad them into. Our politicians are obsessed with vote bank syndrome and in pursuit of these goals they are using the youth by showing them favours or taking them under patronage but not creating urge in them for knowledge and enlightenment. This trend needs to be arrested and stopped once for all.
In final analysis, we are encouraged that the vast youth segment in our country are an asset to be treated properly and made catalysts to rapid development of the nation. Fortunately, our youth are well oriented towards nationalism and know that no virtue is better than being patriotic to the country of our birth.


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