The Youth represent the most dynamic and vibrant segment of the population. India is one of the youngest nations in the World, with about 65 per cent of the population being under 35 years of age. While most of these developed countries face the risk of an ageing workforce, India is expected to have a very favourable demographic profile.
It is estimated that by the year 2020, the population of India would have a median age of 28 years only as against 38 years for United States, 42 years for China and 48 years for Japan. This ‘demographic dividend’ offers a great opportunity. However, in order to capture this demographic dividend, it is essential that the economy has the ability to support the increase in the labour force and the youth have the appropriate education, skills, health awareness and other enablers to productively contribute to the economy.
This demands the commitment of the entire nation to all-round development of the youth of India, so that they can realize their full potential and contribute productively to nation-building process. This can be done by empowering youth.
The United Nations Human Settlements Program (UNCHS-Habitat) defines youth empowerment as “the circumstances and factors which enhance the development of citizenship and productiveness among young people as they move into adulthood. It is concerned with the adaptation of government structures and institutions to protect and deliver children’s, youths‟ and human rights, including the right to participation”. The word 'empowerment' means giving power.
In Substance with the India:
The National Youth Policy, 2014, seeks to define the vision of the government of India, for the youth of the country and identify the keys areas in which action is required to achieve their full potential and through them enable India to find its rightful place in the community of nations in the area of, education, employment and skill development, entrepreneurship, health and healthy lifestyle, sports, promotion of social values, community engagement, participation in politics and governance, youth engagement, inclusion and social justice.
The need for empowering youth arises due to the following reasons:-
• To enable youth to acquire such knowledge, skills and techniques which will help them in their personal and social growth as well as foster in them sensitivity towards problems in the society.
• To promote national integration and international understanding by developing youth leadership and providing a forum for youth from diverse background.
• To promote regional co-operation and exchange between people of various countries.
• To foster initiatives for unfolding the potential of youth through a constant process of self evaluation and self -exploration.
• To promote research in youth work.
National Youth Policy, 2014
The government has launched the National Youth Policy (NYP 2014) to cater the needs of youth in India. It is a comprehensive policy document that states the vision of the Government of India (GOI) for the youth of the country and also how this vision is sought to be realised by the government.
NYP-2014 caters to needs of the youth in the age-group of 15-29 years, which constitutes 27.5 per cent of population. The target groups identified are (i) Student Youth (ii) Migrant Youth (iii) Rural Youth (iv) Tribal Youth (v) Youth At Risk (vi) Youth in violent conflicts (vii) out of school/dropouts (viii) groups with social /moral stigma (ix) Youth in Institutional Care. Young women, Youth belonging to socially and economically disadvantaged communities /groups, and differently abled youth form the three priority groups among the target age group.
NYP 2014 identifies the vision and the five key objectives for youth development that are further sub-divided into 11 priority areas. It further suggests policy imperatives that should be implemented in each of these identified priority areas. The concerns of target groups and the priority groups therein, shall be addressed through a subsequent action plan based on policy interventions.
NYP 2014 seeks to achieve a productive workforce through education, skill development for better employability and entrepreneurship training; a healthy generation with sports as a way of life; a sense of community service and strong social values; high levels of participation in governance; and social inclusiveness by creating equitable opportunities for all. The thrust areas are promotion of National values, social harmony, national unity, and empowering youth through employable skills, education, health, sports and recreation, gender justice, participation in community service, environment and local governance.
The NYP 2014 will be implemented in four steps –
• GOI will formulate an action plan within 6 months for the implementation of the policy across all the concerned ministries and department;
• The MYAS also constituted a Youth Council consisting of exceptional youth from across the country to oversee the implementation of the policy;
• A set of short-term and long-term indicators for measuring the success of the policy; and
• The youth are encouraged to engage their elected representatives and the government if there is any shortcomings in the implementation of youth oriented schemes as outlined in the NYP. Youth Development Index will include the indices viz. Youth Health Index, Youth Education Index, Youth Work Index, Youth Amenities Index, and Youth Participation Index.
Young people in all countries are both a major human resource for development and key agents for social change, economic development and technological innovation. Their imagination, ideals, considerable energies and vision are essential for the continuing development of the societies in which they live. The problems that young people face as well as their vision and aspiration are essential components of the challenges and prospects of today’s societies and future generations.
Hence, Identifying the challenges faced by today’s youth and suggesting strategies and recommendations for uprooting them and attempts at creating such a nation where women are considered equally respectful and dominant as men is paramount wake. There is also a critical need to involve young people in decisions that will affect them. We cannot talk about sustainable development without the active involvement of youth, these ideas forward to harness the demographic dividend, holding human rights, gender equality, human capital, and dignity at the center of all our investments.