Forward to ‘ State of the Urban Youth, India 2013- Employment, Livelihood, skills’
Being aware of the status of youth is a very important prerequisite for a person involved in policy formulation and implementation. Every sector of the economy, be it industry, agriculture, security or infrastructure needs to have a finger on the pulse of youth. Unfortunately however, the current discourse around youth is narrowly confined to health, education and employment. We have been talking about the demographic dividend for almost a decade; but have not yet touched the mark with youth centered development policies.
The aspirations of youth not only predict the trajectory of our development in the years to come, but also give momentum to our development wheel. The State of the Urban Youth, India 2013: Employment, Livelihoods and Skills has been a point of reference ever since I received it. The report is what we would expect, a contribution from our academicians and practitioners from the sector with the help of international organizations.
. While we know of the demographic composition of our country and its large youth representation and the fact that a majority of the youth are in the unorganized sector, the youth delegations, seminars and youth led organizations I have interacted with have mostly comprised urban college youth. This leads to all youth issues being erroneously seen mainly as student issues. Publications like these are constant reminders of the gap between appearance and reality I am looking forward the new edition of 2013 with latest data, relevant analysis and policy suggestions.
Youth is widely a perceived rather than well defined concept. After all, the only factor common amongst the youth across the country is the age group. The new youth policy has proposed to change the definition of youth from 13 to 35 years to a new definition of 16 to 30 years. This change reflects the policy thrust and provides an impetus for policy makers to concentrate on the youth across the country.
The unemployment rate is a sensitive and crucial indicator for the market and society. We are yet to develop effective tools for its measurement in different sectors and linking it with other socio-economic changes. We have various discussion on the issue of employment- unemployment- underemployment and employability. However, the critical question is whether the youth in India really have a choice in the area of education or employment, whether these choices are informed choices and whether they can actually exercise their choice. Contrarily, with the ‘information explosion’, youth seldom get access to relevant and reliable information. We observe that most of the choices are made in a traditional way—influence of family and peer group. Thus relevant information becomes a crucial factor in the exercise of choice. Innumerable courses have come up both in higher education skill development programmes. While we talk about autonomy to institutions, the real need is to ensure autonomy for a youth in these educational and skill development programmes.
The Report has a separate chapter on women in the workforce which encompasses various factors along with case studies. We can also see gender as a major cross-cutting theme throughout the document. The report has a dedicated chapter on migration that presents new facts. Further we have very little data on youth being politically active and their participation in political processes. Lack of credible data and the negative outlook towards political processes are major hurdles in our understanding. The chapter on youth and political participation provides an excellent opening to this topic.
We had great hopes in skill development mission when we started with Eleventh Five Year Plan. After half a decade, we do not see the realisation of our ‘dreams’. On a closer look we can see the achievement in terms of developing institutions and involvement of the market in the process. There is an urgent need at this stage for developing benchmarks, registration and referral services.
This report comes at a key juncture of the social development process. The new youth policy document is now available and we will shortly see how it translates into action. New legislations have been passed in the last parliamentary session; new schemes have started being implemented. These have the potential to change the social security of the people. We have already started witnessing the changes as a result of the Twelfth Plan programmes. The facts, figures and the perspectives presented in this Report will be invaluable to monitoring these changes and further implementing policy directions.
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