India needs a Better National Youth Policy

The latest National Youth Policy of India was unveiled in February 2014, by the former Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh. The policy was drafted by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, which has a Department of Youth Affairs. The new Policy has five main objectives, which are classified into eleven priority areas.

Recent statistics say that 33 crore or 27.5% of the total population of India consists of the youth, defined as the people in the age bracket of 15-29. They contribute to 34% of India’s Gross National Income. The new Policy aims to focus on five core areas:

  1. Making of a productive work culture- with literacy, entrepreneur skill development, employment and vocational training.
  2. Build a healthier youth population by promoting a healthy lifestyle and sports
  3. Promoting social ideals among the youth, along with interest in community service and development.
  4. Encouraging the youth to partake in politics and governance and other civic issues.
  5. To usher in inclusiveness and social equality.

Government is planning to spend some 90,000 crores on schemes and skill-building initiatives.

The new government at the Center relied on two demographic populations for votes and campaign support- the youth and the middle class. As I already discussed, India has a burgeoning youth population. Even the goals mentioned in the new Policy sound very well-thought out and nice on paper. But are these ideals anywhere near implementation? Are they practical in the long run?

Look at the recent issues, involving the Young India that have invited public attention.

1. Moral policing: Young people are not allowed to mingle freely in public, even in big cities like Mumbai. Take the ‘Kiss of Love’ incident in Kerala- young couples at a cafe were attacked by fringe religious groups on rumors of ‘public indecency’. Couples in Mumbai, Delhi and other Tier 2 and 3 cities are harassed by cops, whenever they happen to hang out together in parks or cafes. Young people are also attacked by fringe groups for going to pubs and discotheques or wearing certain clothes. Right now, there is a major student protest going on, on the campus of the Sriram College of Engineering, affiliated to Anna University, over regressive norms. Male students are not allowed to interact with female ones, and girl students are made to stick to a regressive dress code. Protesting students are being threatened with expulsion. Politico-religious groups still frown on inter-community relationships, harass couples from different religions and accuses them of ‘love jihad’.

2. Unemployment : This is a problem which still exists. Most graduates, who are not selected in campus interviews, have to struggle a lot before they can find a job which suits their qualification. Unemployment also had led to many other problems, like turning youth to petty crimes, even indulging in vandalism and other such crimes. Unemployed young men are, more often than not, found to be engaged in sexual harassment, molestation and rape against women.

3. Stifling freedom of speech and expression: As of late, many incidents have come to light which give young people the impression that their freedoms, liberties and rights are not respected. Take the FTII Student protest, when a Chairman the students don’t want, was imposed on them by an administration which couldn’t care less. Before that, take the way students were mistreated in the Jadavpur University protests. Even earlier, when the yout came out in large numbers, on the streets, to protest against the Delhi gang-rape case, it was ignored, insulted and mistreated by the police and the politicians.

4. Personal liberties : Recently, it was the youth segment which led protests, especially on social media, against the infamous Mumbai meat ban. They got the Bombay High Court to reduce the ban to span only a day.

Why weren’t these points included in the Policy directives? Of what use is education or vocational training if the youth doesn’t have the freedom to pursue its interests, freedoms and love interests? Is the new government in power, which promised growth and development, interested in revamping the NYP? Can we please have one where first the basic freedoms and needs of the youth are taken into account, and addressed first?

Will the government protect the sovereignty of an enlightened, better educated, tech-savvy, mobilized and socially aware youth?

Article by - Prachi Sharma /  http://www.IndianYouth.Net