Archive for October 2014

Youth Policy And Addressing Their Emerging Issues. Introduction

October 30, 2014, 4:00 pm

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By: Dr.Athiqul H Laskar

India is already been recognised as second fastest economy, after China. India is one of the largest economies in the world, and shall continue its rapid urbanization and economic development over the next several decades. This is a very positive and welcome development. But at the same time Indian rapid development has raised number of the challenges for the country. The challenges are: rising consumption and demand for energy, increasing green house emissions, and constraints on critical natural resources such as land, water and oil. India needs to find solutions and ways to ensure energy and environment sustainability without compromising its economic and social development. In spite of India’s strong policy framework and some successes, environmental degradation has not been arrested on a large scale. By 2030, India is likely to have a G.D.P. of USD 4 trillion and a population of 1.5 billion. This will swell demand for critical resources such as coal and oil with a parallel increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Considering that 80% India of 2030 is yet to be built, the country may have a unique opportunity to pursue development while managing emission growth, enhancing its energy security and creating a few world scale clean-technology industries.
The strategy is closely aligned with the Government of India’s own development priorities expressed in the Eleventh Five Year Plan. It was arrived at after a series of consultations with a broad range of stakeholders including the government and civil society. Under the strategy, the Bank will use lending, dialogue, analytical work, engagement with the private sector, and capacity building to help India achieve its goals.
India has now become a Young Nation: In order to achieve this dream of a ‘Green Prosperous India’, country will have to rely on its most valuable asset, its youth. Global issues need to be brought to the knowledge of an average individual. The best way to walk and begin on this path is informing the youth. Many of the best ideas come from young minds. The Indian youth is, and must be, the builder of a new society and new economic order. At present, 42% of the population of India is composed of people aged between 15-35 years. The figure of youth composition will touch 55% mark in next thirty years. As compared to China, India, a growing democracy with a complex and diverse society The challenge is to ensure that this huge youth population becomes a vibrant, constructive force that can address social issues and create a more equitable and peaceful world. Young people should not merely be looked as passive recipients of services and consumers. But they should be recognised them as change agents who have the energy, passion and creativity to make a significant contribution to society. It is also critical to build the skills of the youth for the future. While every segment of society is responsible for maintaining the environmental integrity of the community, young people must have a special interest in maintaining a healthy environment because they will be the ones to inherit it.
Youth as change Agent: Youth are at the forefront of global, social, economic and political developments. In addition to their intellectual contribution and their ability to mobilize support, young people bring unique perspectives that need to be taken into account. The progress of our societies is based, among other elements, on each society’s capacity to involve young women and men in building and designing the future.
Youth Policy Formulation shall be important vehicle and guiding instrument for the youth participation. The policy frame work provides guidelines to those involved in formulating and executing youth-related policy and programmes at all levels. The youth policy framework shall propose a set of youth participation indicators and shall attempt to both ensure youth participation and measure its effectiveness. The policy frame work should also aims to encourage, at the local, national and regional levels, the inclusion of young people in ongoing decision-making processes. This shall ensure a genuine partnership between young people and adults. It is expected that it will inspire means of improving access and benefit, ability to influence and equity of young people. Youth participation is about developing partnerships between young people and adults in all areas of life so that young people can take a valued position in our society and the community as a whole can benefit from their contribution, ideas and energies.
Major youth Problems and areas of concern of India: India is one large country politically. But there are many India so far as Indian youth and their problems are concerned. The problem of rural youth is different, especially right education, employability, education and soft skills Training facility and vocational training. Youth of urban India and India of cities has different problems.
Upper layer of youth of the cities have problem of drug abuse, alcoholism and college ragging. There are very good education opportunities but problem of employability is relevant.
Indian Youth and Sustainable Development: It is critical to recognize them as change agents who have the energy, passion and creativity to make a significant contribution to society while also building their skills for the future. While every segment of society is responsible for maintaining the environmental integrity of the community, young people must have a special interest in maintaining a healthy environment because they will be the ones to inherit it.
Environmental issues present some of the most profound and complex challenges requiring attention today and in the coming decades.
One foundation-building step in enhancing local, regional, national and global capacities to respond to those challenges is increasing environmental awareness. Here the role of youth is central, for it is in the rising generations that heightened awareness can most easily be achieved. Awareness is not about telling people what will happen. Rather it is about personalizing it and telling them how it could impact their lives. Young educated people are especially well-placed to promote environmental awareness simply because they often have better access to information about the environment than do their elders. In part this is a matter of having being exposed to more environmental education in schools and living all their lives in an era in which environmental issues have loomed large. Established anti-ecological ways of thinking and behaving are not ingrained in young people, and they can introduce fresh ideas and outlooks to issues. Youth can undertake public awareness programs in their schools, nearby communities and rural neighbourhoods to spread awareness.
The participation of youth in environmental protection can be sought at levels and locations ranging from grass-roots activism and participation in conservation projects to policy-making bodies and NGOs. The role of youth can be institutionalized in policy-making through advisory bodies such as youth councils. Many national Governments have ministries or departments with “youth affairs” as part of their portfolio, though such offices tend to view youth as a population to be addressed by public policy (often “youth affairs” is part of the education ministry), rather than a resource to be tapped for participation in policy-making in a variety of areas, including the environment. The role of NGOs has become increasingly institutionalized, so the youth can join various NGOs. There are possibilities for youth participation in practical environmental projects. Even one’s everyday life- and particularly the consumption decisions made in it- can become an “environmental project”.
The Government also has some duties which it is should undertake in order to strengthen participation of youth in the protection, preservation and improvement of the environment. Integration of environmental education and training into education and training programs is one of them. Emphasis should be given to environmental education in school curricula. The participation of youth groups in gathering environmental data and in understanding ecological systems and actual environmental action should be encouraged as a means of improving both their knowledge of the environment and their personal engagement in caring for the environment. It should also focus on enhancing the role of the media as a tool for widespread dissemination of environmental issues to youth. Governments should establish procedures allowing for consultation and possible participation of youth of both genders in decision-making processes with regard to the environment, at the local, national and regional levels.
In addition to these some more initiatives need to be taken at schools in order to develop an interest of the children towards the environment. Through posters, slogan writing, puppet shows, street plays, and similar traditional media we can spread the message of Green Environment – A Sustainable Environment. Eco Clubs can run campus-wide campaigns to promote water and energy conservation, organize national intercollegiate recycling competitions, energy conservation contests and annual celebratory events like Earth Day and Environment Day. We can also have an Each One Teach One program where each student imparts life skills to at least one individual from the under privileged section of the society. Through this personalized interaction, messages on eco friendly strategies are imparted which are localized to the community. These campaigns can give heartening results. A campaign by the school students for the students – Say No to Crackers was launched in Delhi some years back. It has made a significant decrease in the pollution levels of the city, as the youth and children have voluntarily decided to boycott the use of crackers and celebrate a smoke free and noise free Diwali. Anticipating the possibility of load shedding in the summer of 2007, young green entrepreneurs in Mumbai embarked on a Save Power Campaign called ―I Will and Mumbai Will. These activities were initiated to educate and motivate the consumers to switch over to CFL lamps which, in partnership with Phillips India, were made available to consumers at discounted rates. Consumers were appealed, through advertisements in Leading Newspapers, to operate their washing machines and other electric gadgets at non-peak hours and set their air-conditioners to 240 C and thus join the Conservation Campaign. This was backed up with Awareness Programs on Energy Conservation and Electrical Safety held in schools and colleges. Visits of children from schools to thermal power station at Trombay were organized. The contents of all the awareness programs focused on the need for energy conservation, easy to follow tips on conserving energy and precautions to be taken while using electric gadgets to avoid accidents. Such initiatives were replicated in various states of India and have led to green entrepreneurship.

Youth not Educated for Employment
Youth from several Indian states are “not educated enough for employment” as per the market demand as per recent study released.
The findings also indicated that “most youth were neither adequately educated nor equipped with vocational skills”.
“Just two in every five young men (40 percent) and one in every three young women (33 percent) had completed secondary education…(and) one in every 12 young men and one in four young women had never been to school at all in the country,” said the study conducted under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The study titled ‘Youth in India: Situation and Needs’ assessed the situation of youth in six states – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamilnadu – between 2006 and 2008, involving over 58,000 youths in the age group of 15-29 years. Around 44-52 percent of men and 36-48 percent of women in Maharashtra and the southern states of Andra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu had completed 10 or more years of education, compared to 30-38 percent of men and 13-18 percent of women from the other states. “Basic education can be very important in helping people to get jobs and gainful employment. This connection, while always present, is particularly critical in a rapidly globalising world in which quality control and production according to strict specification can be crucial,” Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said at the release of the study. Around 56 percent of men and 68 percent of women surveyed were interested in acquiring vocational skills to help employability. The study was carried out by the Population Council, Delhi, and International Institute of Population Sciences, Mumbai.

India is shining. India is progressing with an amazing growth rate. Growth rate of India is the second highest in the world after that of China The youth force of India are contributing lot to the same. It is believed that principal reason behind Indian progress is its youth force, highest in number in the world. However, there is a problem. Huge number of Indian youth is not only unemployed but unemployable.
There are two new world leaders China, in manufacturing sector and India, in service sector. Large numbers of white collar jobs are waiting for suitable candidates. Indian youth force, behind the progress of India, is mainly engaged in IT. India is a leader in software. Software industries in India are continually offering white collar jobs besides some blue collars.
India is also world leader in BPO (Business process out sourcing) and KPO (Knowledge process out sourcing). Large numbers of call centres are contributing to the industries and trades of America the US, UK, and Australia, Japan, European Union, Canada Japan and many other developed countries. BPO sector needs large number of blue collars. KPO industries require and offer white collar jobs.
An IT industry has seen a tremendous boom in India. This industry has employed large number of educated youth with handsome salary. Normally, IT is the highest paid sector. Management, banking, finance, retail, telecommunication, entertainment etc. are some other new sectors that helped India in her tremendous growth.
Shortage of Skill Power: These sectors have started facing a typical problem. Despite a large number of educated youth, there is a shortage of skilled manpower. This is the dilemma. There are unemployed youths and the companies are facing shortage of manpower.
A recent survey throws light on the problem, problems with the educated youth. They are mainly lacking three types of skills.
1. Communication skill
2. Analytical skill and problem solving
3. Respective Domain knowledge and skill.
While in interview approximately sixty percent candidates are screened due to lack of communication skills. Rest twenty five percent are screened for analytical skills and five percent for their lack of knowledge in their respective domain. Hence ninety percent of educated youth force are lacking in one of these three main skills required for job and employment. Only ten percent of educated force of India is employable. Employers are struggling hard to attract them with huge pay-packages that are increasing their production cost significantly. The employers are loosing their competitive edge in global markets. Global slow down only adds to the crisis. Corporations are now facing dual problem.
The problem lies in the education system. The Indian education system has a mismatch with the requirements of the industries. Institutes teach whatever they want. Institutes do not teach what industries require. Industries do not require what institutes teach. The syllabus committees have not been interfacing with the industries. Many big industries have set-up their own in house training program to fight with the problem.
Most of the newly employed youths are compulsorily undergone employers own training program. This enhances cost of employers enormously. It also wastes time.
The problem and solution have two aspects: Individual and collective: As an individual you have to choose your courses carefully. You have to interact with the industries to know their requirements. You must choose an institute very carefully. Ensure that they are covering above mentioned three aspects in their syllabus. It is in your best interest to ensure that your institute is interfacing with the requirements of industries before you admit into it.
What should be done as a general measure to solve the problem? The one point solution of the problem is a change in education system, a radical change. There must be an interface among Government bodies looking after education, Universities, all India committee of technical education and the representatives of the industries. The institutes must educate as per industries’ needs. Have these done, India will not face problem of employability and the youth force of India will not be remain unemployed.
Maintaining rapid and inclusive growth: Infrastructure
Infrastructure of Skills: China vs India: The shortage of skills is preventing large segments of the population from being part of India’s growth story. Nearly 44% of India’s labour force is illiterate, only 17% of it has secondary schooling, and enrolment in higher education is just 11%. This compares unfavourably with, for example, China, where access to secondary education is almost universal and enrolment in higher education exceeds 20%. Moreover, the quality of most Indian graduates is poor and employers offer very little skills upgrading (16% of Indian manufacturers’ offer in-service training to their employees, compared to over 90% of Chinese firms). The informal sector employs over 90% of the workforce. There is very little investment or opportunity for formal skilling for informal workers and enterprises.

Agricultural Growth and Productivity: Low agricultural productivity is keeping some 60 percent of India’s population behind. Shortages of basic rural infrastructure – from roads to electrification – are hindering the growth of off-farm activities. No doubt, agricultural growth has been faster over the past five years (4.7% per year)- facilitated by very good monsoons, greater production of high-value fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, an increase in the minimum support price for grains, and the sudden increase in global prices for agricultural products. But, sustaining this level of performance over the longer term will be difficult without addressing several policy and structural constraints, including a myriad of restrictions, subsidies, support prices, sector governance issues, as well as the tiny size of landholdings and years of underinvestment. The Indian Government has asked the World Bank to place special emphasis on agricultural development in its new strategy.
Challenges of development sustainable: most environmental indicators suggest that growth is extracting an increasing toll on the country’s natural resources – water, land, forests, soils and biodiversity – and leaving a larger pollution footprint. India is highly vulnerable to climate change; cyclones, floods and droughts are happening with increasing frequency, and the Himalayan glaciers that feed India’s largest rivers show clear signs of retreat. Indeed, climate change will impact India first and foremost through its water resources. Rising temperatures will also affect agricultural yields, forests, and marine and coastal biodiversity. India will need to better manage these resources (particularly water) and reduce the burden that environmental degradation is imposing on the population, particularly on the most vulnerable groups.
Increasing the effectiveness of service delivery: while much progress has been made on primary school enrolment, improvements have been elusive in other sectors, particularly health. Although deaths from TB have fallen and polio cases have reduced dramatically in 2008, child malnutrition levels are worse than in Sub-Saharan Africa, despite large expenditures. No Indian city provides water 24/7, only half the population has access to safe drinking water, and less than a third has access to sanitation. Public services fall short largely because they have little or no accountability to the ultimate client, and outdated management systems are unable to provide the information needed for decision-making. These issues are particularly acute in centrally sponsored schemes which are designed and funded by the central government but implemented by the states and lower echelons of government. Given the importance of these schemes, systemic improvements in design and governance are crucial to get results from public spending. The Government of India has requested the World Bank to place special emphasis in its new strategy on centrally sponsored schemes that aim to achieve the MDGs. The Bank will focus on increasing accountability to citizens, decentralizing responsibilities, and enhancing private sector participation in the delivery of these services.
Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA): The World Bank will continue to assist the central government by providing comprehensive analytical work to underpin policy and institutional reform and to improve the implementation of central government projects on the ground. Under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) for example, while schools are now more accessible and gender parity has been reached, the focus will now be on improving the quality of education provided. In the power sector, the Bank will continue to support Power grid, India’s national electricity transmission agency, which it has helped to grow into a world-class institution.
Youth and Sustainable Livelihood: Livelihood is a broader category than employment and more in line with the actual manner in which many young people organize themselves and their activities in order to survive. An adaptability and dynamic livelihood capability is the key to generating sustainable livelihoods. Dynamic livelihood capabilities can be thought of as enterprising behaviour in a developing context. The institutional challenge is to improve the effectiveness of the non-formal training system in order to mediate the latent potential of young people into productive social and economic activity, while understanding their current livelihood conditions and capabilities. Governments need to address key global policies that affect youth employment and livelihood. They need to take strategies that promote self-employment and entrepreneurship, school to work programmes and work-based training. A partnership with the private sector needs to be strengthened and the use of new information and communication technologies to support youth employment and training must be encouraged. The youth themselves must be empowered to generate the solutions to youth employment and their best practices and success stories must be acknowledged at all levels to support further replication of such initiatives from the grassroots to the global level.
A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets and activities required for a means of living. It is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks and still maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining the natural resource base.
The creation of sustainable livelihoods has become an important factor in sustainable development, particularly in developing countries and among disadvantaged populations. More support should be given to the promotion and development of economical and environmental sustainable youth livelihoods. Sustainable development requires an explicit consideration of future generations. Youth will inherit many of the environmental, economic and social problems created over the past decades and incorporating their opinions and concerns into policies at all levels is critical to sustainable development. The capacity of young people to address sustainability issues and become leaders in the 21st century is also critical.
Concerns of Young People is Critical: Addressing the concerns of young people is critical to the success of sustainable development programmes because they are the current and future leaders of our communities. Encouraging civic involvement and investing in youth’s key concerns must be an urgent priority of Governments and Civil Society. Recent major international conferences have addressed issues surrounding youth livelihoods development. However the resolutions that emerged from these conferences have, in some areas, failed to be sufficiently acted upon. Therefore it is up to us the youth, to take actions consistent with the commitment made by Governments in these world conference.
The capacity of each society to progress is based, among other elements, on its capacity to incorporate the contribution and responsibility of youth in the building and designing of its future. In addition to their intellectual contribution and ability to mobilize support, young people bring unique perspectives that need to be taken into account. Youth organizations can be important forums for helping young people to develop the skills necessary for effective youth participation in society.
India and Human Development: Human Development is considered to be a very important aspect of a country’s progress. A nation’s efforts towards enhancing women and children’s health, nutrition and education and also its commitment to resolve social issues like child labour, illiteracy and poverty is relevant in measuring its development. India’s concern for children is evident in the constitutional provisions, policies, programmes and legislation. But, for a nation with 160 million children of less than 6 years of age, the task of reaching out to them is indeed mammoth. The New Economic Policy (NEP) under the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) has created further hurdles by way of scaling down of child development projects, changing patterns of financial resources and changing composition of child development programmes ( Saleth 1992). Further, the NEP has also brought about changes in the labour market in terms of increase of contract labour and feminisation of labour. With nearly a 100 million women in labour force, spread across various sectors of occupations and in diverse regions, it calls for innovation, flexibility and variations in the programmes for women and children. Thus child care programmes have to serve the intersecting needs of women and children. For the child it supplements the care provided by family through its health nutrition, stimulation and pre-school activities. Very significantly it would play a role in releasing young girls from child care tasks.
External Professionals in Public Policy-Making
Growing Complexity of Public Affairs: An important impetus for integration of non-governmental professionals in public policy-making process has been the increasing complexity and sophistication of public affairs. The affairs of the twenty-first century government is both continuously expanding and growing more complex. Compared to a few decades earlier, there are many variables and stakeholders in most public issues. Issues like trade negotiations, climate change, human rights, etc. have only made governmental decision-making more complex. Furthermore, in a fast globalizing India with an increasing international role, government’s policies are scrutinized not only by domestic stakeholders but also by the international community. Policy formulation in this environment can no more be done by generalist civil servants but requires experts. The government is responding to the same, although in an ad hoc manner, through lateral hiring.
This phenomenon is discernable not only in the many lateral appointments enumerated in the previous post, but also borne out in many governmental studies and statements. Elaborating on the changing nature of public administration, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) said that there is a need to recognize the complex challenges of modern administration in many sectors like policing, justice delivery, education, healthcare, transportation, land management among others. In the questionnaires distributed by the ARC and the Sixth Central Pay Commission to elicit public opinion, both the Commissions had posed pointed questions regarding the relevance and importance of allowing lateral entry into the government. The ARC concluded that there is almost a universal acknowledgment of the need to induct outstanding skills and talent from outside the government to staff some positions in government departments. Even the Pay Commission recommended a shift from career-based to post-based selection in the higher echelons of Government in order to get the best domain based expertise.
Earlier, even the Committee on Civil Service Reforms, 2004, had emphasized the importance of government officials gaining NGO and private sector experience. It had recommended that after a period of ten years in service civil servants should be encouraged to go on a sabbatical to acquire additional knowledge and update their skills including a lateral move to NGOs or the private sector and return to government without losing their seniority.
Young Population Demanding Greater Political Accountability and Participation: Increasing use of non-governmental professionals is also influenced by demand for greater political accountability and participation driven by a younger population. The demographic profile of the country is seeing a huge change with the “youth bulge” – the working population is more than the dependent population with a greater number of younger people. This younger population, the primary stakeholder in India’s future, is demanding greater transparency in the government and more participative governance. The spread of internet, telecommunication and media is also acting as catalyst of political awareness and accountability. This demand for greater accountability implies higher scrutiny of governmental programmes and acts as an impetus for smart and sensible policies that are effective in dealing with complex public problems. As already noted the government is aware of the paucity of specialist policy-makers and is increasingly looking for external support.
Not only is young India demanding better policies, it is also keen on being part of the policy-making process. The present Indian growth story is riding on the strength on this large young population’s rising expectations which has influenced the demand for more say in governmental affairs. Being part of this segment, I personally believe that young Indians are no more satisfied with mere periodic exercise of franchise but also want to engage with and in the government. Talking about his motivation to work with the government, a 25-year-old investment banker (who quit his job to work with UIDAI) said, “Young people, educated, highly mobile and intelligent, want to do things that will impact the country while they are still in the prime of their lives…A similar sentiment was echoed by our very own Arghva Sengupta (who assisted the Indian Parliament with inputs on Nuclear Civil Liability Bill) when he said that his interest arose from a desire to be engaged with India and its policies.
Clearly, there is a strong urge to be part of government’s development programmes but not necessarily the bureaucracy. The tremendous growth of the economy means that the governmental affairs and regulation are expanding which offers great scope for creative problem-solving. The nature of the task is in itself very appealing which is drawing youngsters towards governmental work, but they do not necessarily want to be part of the government. The attractiveness of governmental work is borne out by the fact that youngsters want to work on governmental problem for strategic reasons. Many look at government work as a great learning experience which will enhance their prospects in the private sector. Despite the allure of such work, there is an unwillingness to spend many years in the junior rungs of the government subjugating oneself to the whims and fancies of the seniors in civil service, especially when many lucrative career options have opened up for these youngsters in the private sector. However, there are a number of youngsters who have given up plum jobs in the private sector and international organizations to work on governmental policy-making in various capacities for a variety of reasons. The underlying point is that young Indians today are keen about the governmental sector and are forcing themselves through lateral entry into the Parliament, government departments, planning bodies, regulatory authorities, etc.
1. Responses sent to the Sixth Pay Commission to reflect these aspirations of the general population too. The Commission had asked a specific question – whether there should be lateral movement from government to non-government jobs and vice versa. Over sixty percent of respondents from across the country preferred lateral movement into the government.
The United Nation and Youth Participation: The United Nations has long recognized the important role youth play in the continuing development of the world in which they live. The United Nations drew worldwide attention to the importance of youth in observing the 1985 International Youth Year: Participation, Development and Peace. Acknowledging the need to expand the opportunities for young people to participate fully in their society, the General Assembly adopted in 1995 the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and beyond as a framework for nations to increase their capacities to address youth needs and issues.
Youth in the Asia-Pacific region constitute a significant proportion of the population, highlighting the importance of fully integrating youth into society through youth participation. Youth, according to the United Nations definition, is the age group between 15 and 24 years old, which represents approximately one-fifth of the total population of the UNESCAP region. The underlying premise of youth participation is that in encouraging youth to participate more fully in society, youth are essentially encouraged to be more knowledgeable on their rights and become more responsible citizens. It is envisaged that once young people have the opportunity to realize their potential, be respected by society and fully participate in their community, consistent with their human rights and responsibilities, society at large will benefit. Youth is therefore the key to the future that thus places them at the core of human resources development (HRD).
UNESCAP recognized the importance of youth participation as a priority in adopting resolution 52/4[3] on “Promoting human resources development among youth in Asia and the Pacific” in April 1996. This was in response to the United Nations General Assembly adoption of the World Programme Action for Youth, which highlighted ten priority areas including “the full and effective participation of youth in society and decision-making.”
UNESCAP notes that there are three key issues in providing a voice for youth in society: access and benefit, ability to influence and equity. These three principles are ultimately the pillars of youth participation. These foundations refer to the rights of all youth to have access to opportunities and to play an active role in all spheres of society. This applies to all youth including girls and young women, rural youth, youth with special needs, and other marginalized youth. In many situations, youth tend to be the first group to be denied certain opportunities. An apparent example is in employment where youth are often the first to lose their jobs in any restructuring effort. The recent economic crisis has highlighted that young people have a disproportionately high record of unemployment. In addition, young people often do not have easy access to information. In the Asia-Pacific region, this is especially true for information on sexual and reproductive health as well as access to appropriate services.
UNESCAP is also advocating that there be a genuine shift in thought and that youth is recognized as active participants and agents of change, capable of making decisions, which affect their lives and society as a whole. Indeed, youth are capable of shaping the world today, not just tomorrow.
The problems facing youth challenge today’s societies and future generations as well. They include: limited resources available for funding youth programmes and activities; inequities in social, economic and political conditions; gender discrimination; high levels of youth unemployment; armed conflict and confrontation; continuing deterioration of the global environment; increasing incidence of disease, hunger and malnutrition; changes in the role of the family; and inadequate opportunity for education and training.
It is critical that youth concerns and issues are understood and addressed. The best vehicle to genuinely understand youth is by giving them a voice through facilitation of their active participation, and hence empowerment, in society. UNESCAP’s commitment to fully integrate youth in society is highlighted in its decision to develop youth participation indicators (YPIs), as called for by the Asia-Pacific Meeting on Human Resources Development for Youth and the Pacific in 1996. At that meeting, the governments of the Asia-Pacific region urged UNESCAP “to develop a series of youth participation indicators to facilitate the analysis of, and thereby promote youth participation in the planning, implementation and evaluation of national youth and related policies. These YPIs are intended to address the problems that impede effective programmes and policies that encourage youth participation, namely.
1. Lack of standardized data on youth development and participation to serve as a basis for policy-making and planning; and
2.
2. Inadequate analytical basis for national policy-making and planning for youth.
Bearing in mind the goal to effectively promote youth participation, this Manual contains four chapters and two annexes. Chapter 1 introduces the framework behind the principle of youth participation and the value of youth participation indicators. Chapter 2 provides the foundation and rationale behind the importance of youth participation, which stems from the need to facilitate young persons to fulfil their responsibilities to society and to realize their rights at citizens. In Chapter 3, indicators are introduced to help measure the existence and levels of youth participation. Their value is highlighted through a case study on adolescent reproductive health. Chapter 4 supplies recommendations for policy makers and programmes managers at the local and national level. Next, Annex 1 provides examples of best practices in the Asia-Pacific region in promoting youth participation. Lastly, in Annex 2 references for further study are given, including suggested publications and web sites.
While youth in developing countries (particularly young women) will have improved access to more relevant education and training to develop their improved skill sets and self-motivation required to generate and sustain viable livelihoods, much more needs to be done. With better policy and programming congruence among education, training and credit provision, youth with enhanced skill sets, will be better equipped to access credit, develop and sustain self-employment initiatives. More effective and relevant education and training will result in more productive employment in micro and small businesses, particularly in the informal sector, larger enterprises that seek enterprising self-motivated employees, and government and civil society that seek enterprising employees. The improved skills and self-motivation of the emerging generation will contribute to increased social and economic productivity of communities. Improved skills will also be conducive to fewer social and political problems that are based on youth unemployment and lack of initiative. Overall, improved skills will contribute to enhanced employment opportunities and the practical generation of sustainable livelihoods for young women and men.
Canada and Youth Policy and Programs.
Reflecting on the Process: Successful Approaches to Research and Policy Development: While the main focus was to identify priority issues facing Aboriginal youth, a significant part of the discussion during the half-day event centred on ways to improve research practices and policy development by making them more collaborative and inclusive. Roundtable participants expressed the need for both research and policy making to recognize the value of traditional knowledge and they encouraged a stronger shift away from research on and about Aboriginal people to one done with, by, and for them.
Recommendations for Research
Improving data quality: Effective policy research in the realm of Aboriginal issues continues to be hampered by significant data gaps, particularly in fields such as education and health. In a context where policy makers are increasingly required to demonstrate effectiveness and value for money as a prerequisite to securing investment in new policy initiatives, addressing these gaps through greater investment, collaboration among stakeholders, and enhanced administrative data collection practices is essential.
Using a positive approach: The roundtable participants emphasized the importance of investigating successful practices and doing research that is focused on strengths and success. By objectively evaluating and understanding what is working in communities and why it is working, research will be better positioned to support sound policy making and program implementation.
Develop Aboriginal research capacity: To help young Aboriginal researchers develop and thrive, one avenue suggested by Dr. Pauline Tremblay is to network with First Nations’ universities. Ms. Sheila Regehr also suggested the need to build 14 capacities at the ground level by sharing what works and what doesn’t. Encouraging young Aboriginal scholars is key to building this capacity.
Engaging local knowledge and investing in community capacity were the two strongest recommendations made by roundtable participants. They also emphasized the importance of working holistically and targeting support where it is most needed. For this to happen, coordinating government policies at all levels and tailoring programs to the conditions prevailing in particular communities and places are key.
Investing in Youth
Ensuring that young people are adequately prepared to become active and engaged citizens is a key preoccupation for policy-makers in Canada and around the world. Started in 2007, this project has examined the changing realities, issues and challenges of today’s youth, including new conditions and aspects of vulnerability, as well as their implications for public policy. It has developed a knowledge base and framework, by identifying methodological strategies and examining new international thinking and policy approaches with a view to supporting analysis of, and developing policy responses to, emerging youth-related issues in Canada. The main body of work under the Investing in Youth project is scheduled to be completed in early 2010.
Summary of Canada Problems: Over the course of the half-day roundtable event, participants discussed themes of educational achievement, family and community well-being, and criminal justice, explaining the benefits of policy development for Aboriginal youth in each of these areas. They addressed not only the “what” of the issue, but also “how” to ethically research issues and develop sound policies that can be implemented through relevant programs.
In addition to the emerging issues, a number of key messages surfaced repeatedly throughout the dialogue:
1. Consider the rich diversity of Canada’s Aboriginal populations in research, policy, and service delivery.
2. Take a strengths-based approach. Track successes and celebrate what is working. There is much to be learned from positive examples. Identify what works at the individual and the community level and disseminate ideas for promising practices.
3. Recognize the value of Indigenous knowledge. Openness to other forms of knowledge, cultural competence, and understanding the importance of social factors are crucial for research to be policy-relevant and for policies to be effective.
4. Engage First Nations, Inuit, and Métis youth in finding the answers. Ensure that these youth have a voice in developing meaningful solutions.
In order to begin to make a difference, policies need to be community- and place based and developed in relation with the communities that are affected, in a process that allows policy makers to tap into local capacity and local knowledge. The developed policies and programs need to be holistic and targeted to where they are most needed.
The United Nations Programme on Youth: While the United Nations Programme on Youth of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs is the only part of the United Nations Secretariat with the explicit mandate to address youth issues, the United Nations system, as a whole, supports youth development with a diverse range of programmes and activities. The United Nations youth agenda is guided by the World Program for Action for Youth (WPAY). Adopted by the General Assembly, the WPAY provides a policy framework and practical guidelines for national action and international support to improve the situation of young people around the world. The WPAY covers fifteen youth priority areas and contains proposals for action for each of these areas.
With activities ranging from data collection and analysis to direct country support to Governments, civil society and other stakeholders, the United Nations system is well-positioned to provide comprehensive, specialized assistance in support of global youth development. Particular attention is being given by many UN system offices to areas such as health, education and employment, and the special circumstances of girls and young women—areas which present persistent challenges to youth development in many parts of the world.

United Nations Programme on Youth (UNPY): The United Nations Programme on Youth is the focal point within the United Nations Secretariat on issues related to youth. It is the only part of the Secretariat that is mandated exclusively to deal with youth issues. The Programme is part of the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). The Programme on Youth is, in particular, responsible for monitoring progress and constraints in addressing the objectives of the World Programme of Action for Youth. The Programme is also charged with playing a lead role in inter-agency consultations on youth development.
REPORTING ON YOUTH DEVELOPMENT: The Programme on Youth conducts research and analysis on youth and provides information to Governments, youth, civil society and other parts of the United Nations system on issues and activities relating to youth development. It publishes the biannual World Youth Report, which presents analytical discussions on selected topics related to youth development. Taking a regional approach, the 2007 Report, for example, examined the opportunities and challenges that youth face during their transition to adulthood. Through Reports of the Secretary-General and other documentation for the General Assembly and the Commission on Social Development, the Youth Programme also contributes to informing Governments and the international community
about key developments in the area of youth and, especially, on progress made in the 15 priority areas of the WPAY. The Programme services the Commission on Social Development and the Third Committee of the General Assembly, providing draft texts for consideration of these bodies and assisting with negotiations of resolutions on youth.
To promote information sharing on activities within and outside the UN system on youth issues, the Programme on Youth also produces Youth Flash, an electronic newsletter. Youth Flash includes an in-depth feature on a topical youth issue and provides an overview of youth-related activities organized by the entire UN system.
INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY: International Youth Day is commemorated every year on 12 August. The Programme on Youth selects a theme for the day in consultation with youth organizations, the Department of Public Information and other UN system offices and agencies. It also organizes a commemoration of the Day at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Programme encourages youth around the world to organize activities to raise awareness about the situation of youth in their country. Youth are encouraged to send in a description of their planned activities to youth@un.org. The most creative activities are featured on the Programme’s website to provide a sense of how International Youth Day is being commemorated around the world and to encourage other youth to take action.
PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATION WITH CIVIL SOCIETY AND YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS: A major part of the work of the UN Programme on Youth involves working with civil society, especially youth-led organizations that are working with young people, particularly at the grassroots level, to address various areas of the World Programme of Action for Youth. The Programme on Youth cooperates with and assists these youth-led organizations. It arranges consultative meetings, briefings and other discussions with them to guide their work, and it also gathers their inputs and feeds them into intergovernmental discussions. Young people, both as individual experts and as representatives of organizations, are also involved in Expert Group Meetings and other substantive discussions organized by the Programme on Youth.
TECHNICAL COOPERATION: The Programme collaborates closely with the Technical Cooperation Unit of the Division for Social Policy and Development. The Unit works directly with Governments and other stakeholders to translate international agreements—such as the World Programme of Action for Youth—into practical strategies and projects at the regional and national levels. The Technical Cooperation Unit draws on the expertise of the Programme on Youth and, in turn, feeds experiences gained from the field into the Programme’s work in support of the intergovernmental policy development process. Cooperation is often initiated at the request of a Government or UN counterpart, and technical cooperation advisers work closely with other parts of the UN system. In 2007/2008, activities of the technical cooperation unit that relate to youth included providing support for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Young People in Iberoamerica; working to integrate youth concerns into poverty reduction strategies in Africa; and enhancing capacity to deal effectively with issues related to illicit small arms and violence.
ENSURING YOUTH PARTICIPATION: An important dimension of the Programme on Youth’s work relates to strengthening the participation of youth in decision-making processes at all levels in order to increase their contribution to national and international development. The Programme provides advisory services to other United Nations system offices and other stakeholders on how to ensure active youth engagement in their initiatives.
Through publications, advocacy and the provision of advisory services, the Programme on Youth facilitates the inclusion of youth representatives in Member States’ official delegations to the General Assembly and other intergovernmental bodies. Youth delegates frequently deliver official statements on behalf of the youth in their countries, and some negotiate actively on the text of resolutions. The Programme provides information, advisory and orientation services to youth delegates before and during their stay in New York to facilitate their effective participation at UN meetings.
Various activities of the Programme aim to support and encourage youth initiatives and their meaningful engagement in the development dialogue. The Programme supports and encourages youth to plan and carry out projects in support of youth development. A toolkit, Making commitments matter, for example, guides youth organizations on how to evaluate their Governments’ efforts to implement the WPAY. The website of the Programme on Youth provides a wealth of information to support youth participation and it also provides an opportunity for youth to provide feedback to
the Programme.
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Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA): Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW). The Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs focuses on promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls of all ages. The Division supports the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, which seeks to promote and protect the full enjoyment of all human rights and the fundamental freedoms of all women throughout their life cycle. DAW also supports the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol. The Division strives to promote the mainstreaming of a gender perspective both within and outside the United Nations system.
RATIONALE FOR YOUTH-RELATED WORK: DAW examines issues that affect young women and girls in the context of the 12 critical areas of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action as well as emerging issues, many of which coincide with the priority areas of the World Programme of Action for Youth. Among the areas addressed are education, employment, poverty and hunger, health, care-giving, environment, sport, participation in decision-making, information and communication technology, HIV/AIDS, and armed conflict.
RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS: DAW conducts research and develops policy options to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Division has a publications programme, which includes resources for Governments, civil society and other stakeholders to enhance work on gender equality, women’s human rights and the empowerment of women.
YOUTH AND THE COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN: A major area of DAW’s work is to provide substantive support to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and other intergovernmental bodies working to advance the global policy agenda on gender equality. In this context, DAW covers issues related to the improvement of the situation of young women and girls. The annual sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women provide space for young women and girls to participate actively in informing global policymaking on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. At its fifty-first session in 2007, the Commission on the Status of Women addressed “The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child” as its priority theme. Over 200 girls participated in the session and were involved in official interactive meetings of the Commission, such as the High-level Roundtable on the priority theme, and other CSW-related events and activities. The 2007 Commission’s agreed conclusions on the priority theme include recommendations for the development of programmes and projects aimed at young women and girls affected by poverty, armed conflict, HIV/AIDS, violence and discrimination.
In preparation for the annual sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women, the Division for the Advancement of Women holds an online discussion of the priority theme to be considered by the Commission. The discussions are open to all and give girls and young women a platform from which to share their views on issues affecting them.
Economic Commission for Europe (ECE): The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) strives to foster sustainable economic growth among its 56 Member States located in the European Union (EU), non-EU Western and Eastern Europe, South-East Europe, Central Asia and North America. All these countries dialogue and cooperate under the aegis of ECE on economic and sect oral issues. To this end, ECE provides a forum for analysis, policy advice and assistance to Governments. Through the development of conventions, norms and standards, ECE aims to harmonize action and facilitate exchanges between Member States. This process results in consumer guarantees of safety and quality, helps protect the environment, and facilitates trade and the greater integration of member countries at the regional level and also with the global economy. The key areas of expertise of the ECE are economic cooperation and integration, energy, environment, housing and land management, population, statistics, timber and forests, trade and transport.
RATIONALE FOR YOUTH-RELATED WORK: ECE recognizes that young people represent an asset upon which the future of any society depends. The ECE region is home to about 179 million youth, representing approximately 15 per cent of the total population. In many countries of the ECE region, young people are facing an erosion of their opportunities to gain education, employable skills, and a decent job and income. It is estimated that 18 million young people in the countries in transition and emerging market economies are neither at school nor in employment. Concerned with this situation, ECE launched a youth entrepreneurship programme in the early 2000s which led to two Regional Youth Forums in 2002 and 2003. Currently, ECE’s key engagement on youth is in the area of road safety initiatives, in recognition of the fact that road accidents are the leading cause of death for youth. In addition, ECE focuses on improving knowledge for policymaking on issues that directly affect youth.
GENERATIONS AND GENDER PROGRAMME: ECE is coordinating the Generations and Gender Programme (GGP) of data collection and research. GGP is a system of national Generations and Gender Surveys (GGS) and contextual databases, which aims at improving the knowledge base for policymaking in UNECE countries. The surveys conducted in this programme cover the age range from 18 to 79 years. Many of the issues studied, however, are specifically relevant for young people, such as the processes of family formation and home-leaving and a broad range of their determinants, including education, the labour market, housing, intergenerational relationships and contraception. The GGP contextual database, which includes age-specific data on population processes and employment, is a comparative collection of around 200 variables on the national and regional level for each participating country. These data serve to complement the micro-level data collected in the GGS.
Ten Steps to National Youth Policy Formulation: Many countries have established youth policies, using the World Programmes of Action for youth to the year 2000 and Beyond as a guide. In this process, it is imperative to note that the WPAY mentions that governments and youth organizations should promote an “active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes”. In the process of formulating any youth policy, specifically a national plan, governments and other stakeholders may consider the following guidelines:
1. Participation for an inclusive process: involve and empower all stakeholders’ right from the beginning in the design, implementation and evaluation of youth policy. The participation of youth, NGOs, all related government departments and levels, as well as United Nations agencies can contribute to the success of the policy. The participation of these actors facilitates the creation of a policy that best fits the needs and capacities of youth as a distinct population group, and helps to foster support and understanding of the policy objectives, which are necessary for the implementation.
2. Know the situation and conduct a needs analysis: make profiles of the development situation of young people in your country. The priority areas for youth development contained in the WPAY could serve as a means for organizing this analysis. As the design of youth policy should aim at ensuring the full enjoyment by young people of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, these principles should also inform the analysis of the situation of youth. To sketch an accurate picture of the situation to influence youth policy, it is vital to open a meaningful dialogue with youth on the questions that affect their lives, from the initial planning stages of policy through monitoring and evaluation. In conducting a needs analysis, it is important to make distinctions according to age, sex, rural/urban, education level and family income to identify the most vulnerable groups and to set priorities accordingly. Frequently, data on funding and spending is divided into the two categories of children and adults; tracking the financial resources devoted specifically to youth can improve the impact of the investment.
3. Define vulnerable groups: as part of the needs assessment and situation analysis, determine what groups of youth live in vulnerable situations created by either current circumstances, political conditions or long histories of social exclusion and discrimination. The WPAY and international standards of human rights apply to all people equally, but to meaningfully commit to this principle, policy makers should determine if there are youth who are invisible to existing services or whose needs are not reflected in the national youth policy itself. In some cases, ignoring these groups can impede national economic growth in the long run. Capturing the situation of vulnerable youth can sometimes require expanded data collection.
4. Understand your resources: know what you have and what you need to invest in youth by making a profile of the available and the needed resources in the country that are specific to youth. Resources may include policies, programmes and financial means of the government, NGOs, youth organizations and private initiatives, as well as existing networks, expertise and legal frameworks. Resources also describe the time and energy of different institutions and branches of government devoted to youth. Defining resources also involves examining less tangible elements such as factors which hinder access to services such as poor information, unaffordability, and the trust between youth and service providers. Above all, resources are determined by budgetary allocation. It is necessary to compare the actual needs of young people to the stock of available resources and to make sure costs of policy are taken into account in local and national budgets.
5. Establish a budget allocated for implementation of youth policy: even though youth policy is a cross-sect oral development field that requires action within several departments, ministries and agencies, it is central that the established lead agency have a specific budget for youth policy implementation that can distributed by responsible actors. Failing in this role may lead to a loss of motivation from all the actors, including youth groups, involved in designing and drafting the vision of the youth policy.
6. Learn from past experience: study past successes and failures. Knowledge of what works should be documented and a repository of good practices established; good practices are ways of doing things that have proven effective in one situation and may have applicability in another. Many governments have developed successful policies and run a variety of youth development projects. This research and expertise should be made available to all parts of government. The exchange of experiences can reach beyond the scope of government and may also include civil society and youth organizations.
7. Develop a clear vision to implement youth policy: develop a national action plan based on the needs of youth and the available budget. The national plan or youth policy should be known and understood on the national and local levels to create the necessary political and societal commitment. National policies and programmes may need to be translated to the regional and/or local level, and directed to the specific needs of youth in that area. Establishing and maintaining communication channels improves relationships with beneficiaries and with those who are implementing the policy. These channels can facilitate dissemination of information, but they also exist as a two-way street; experiences from ‘the field’ can enrich a government’s understanding of the situation of youth. Political commitment is also necessary to successfully adopt and enact a national youth policy. Advocacy and outreach are necessary to inform citizens of new programmes and of existing legislation that affect their well-being.
8. Create an institutional structure conducive to implementation of youth policy: establish a lead agency (or focal points in different government ministries) as part of an effective structure to coordinate youth policies. Youth development implies a cross-sect oral approach. A lead agency creates coherence between implemented policies and programmes and ensures coordination between departments and ministries; for example, some programmes may require the collaboration of the ministries of justice, education, and labour. The agency can be a ministry or a department within a ministry with an aim of coordinating the activities on youth matters in order to secure the effective integration of youth policy into national development planning.
9. Engage in partnerships for action: though most youth-oriented policies are led by governments, their design, implementation and evaluation are all dependent on the participation of other stakeholders, chiefly: youth, civil society, the private sector, parents, and sometimes UN agencies and donors, and the international community. Cooperation, institutional support and partnerships contribute to forming more solid investments in youth. Partnerships should be guided by the goal of promoting youth themselves as valuable assets and effective partners. See Part II for more information on partnerships.
10. Increase knowledge and design better programmes through monitoring and evaluation: redefine goals and objectives according to new trends and needs in young people’s lives and according to the achievements and shortcomings of existing programmes. Monitoring may be defined as the routine tracking of priority information about a programme and its intended outcomes, while evaluation is the set of activities designed to determine a programme’s effect or value. Youth can benefit from participating in these exercises. Specific questions related to the needs and aspirations of youth should be included in population censuses or national surveys. In addition, qualitative indicators concerning perceptions, attitudes and aspirations could be developed through special surveys and studies.
USA: Youth Problems, Programs and Policy: Basic premise of American education is: The fundamental task of education is the apprenticeship of liberty, learning to be free. Of course it should not be responsive only to one’s single self and its desires. Participatory freedom rising from the realization that we are parts of a whole, involved in a range of relationships, extending from the family to the local community, to the society at large. Freedom signifies the capacity to choose and the power to act, neither one of which is a natural endowment; they have to be nurtured, they have to be taught. And they require open spaces with vistas on alternative realities, on what might be, on what should be. For John Dewey, “The possibility of freedom is deeply grounded in our very beings. It is one with our individuality, our being uniquely what we are and not imitators or parasites of others. But, like other possibilities, this possibility has to be actualized,” and then, he said, it can be actualized only within and by means of surrounding conditions, by aware engagement with others in the natural and the human world.

Children are now being given iPhones and computers before they can reach the cookie jar. Kids from the age group of 18-30 are going to have it rough, but that is the demographic that can also make some change if we get our crap together before it’s too late. Dramatic change will be the only thing that saves America. Can American youth take the reins of our country in the coming years and make a positive change?
1) The youth of America feels trapped within a world of MTV bull snot, materialistic items, and status among their peers. For these reasons it’s my belief that most will not take any action to bring change. And most also lack the general knowledge to make any constructive, beneficial changes.

2) The youth that are educated enough about the situation and want to make a difference via protest and/or revolution of some kind are scared, as well as leaderless. I can’t help anyone get over fear other than to say there is nothing to fear from government. The government as an entity cannot hurt us if we stand united for a single cause with one voice. If we decided to march on Washington with 1 million people and tell them we’re done with it, they would have to listen. This is where Leadership must come into the equation, and which is where I feel I can be of most help. Along with the protests in Europe there are the cyber attacks taking place in response to the Wikileaks gag order. The efforts of the US Government to silence WL should be a sign that they are scared of us finding out the truth. They should be even more scared of what will happen should 1 million people march up to the Capitol and say enough is enough.

If we used our bodies and our voices, instead of our computers and our keyboards, the message would ring clear throughout the country:
The Importance of Teaching Values: While parents are seen as having the ultimate responsibility for imparting values to their children, schools are seen as having an important supportive role. All segments of the community agree that it is a part of public education to impart the values that the next generation needs.
• Large majorities, over 70%, of parents, teachers and economic leaders agree that values such as responsibility, honesty, tolerance of others and good work habits are “absolutely essential” for schools to teach. (Public Agenda Report “Assignment Incomplete: The Unfinished Business of Education Reform,” 1995)
• Students rate values like hard work, good work habits and honesty and tolerance of others among the most important things for high schools to teach. (Public Agenda Report “Getting By: What American Teenagers Really Think About Their Schools,” 1997)
• Approximately half of America’s teachers say that values are more important to teach than academics, with another 9% finding values equally important. (Public Agenda Report ” Given the Circumstances: Teachers Talk About Public Education Today,” 1996)
Educational Aspirations: The educational aspirations of high school students are high and on the rise. Over the decade from 1982, a college education came to be seen as a necessity.
• In 1992, nearly seven out of ten high school seniors said they hoped to graduate from college, as compared to only 39% in 1982. (Youth Indicators, 1996)
• The desire for post-secondary education cut across gender, ethnic and socioeconomic lines. In every subgroup, the vast majority aspire to more than a high school education. Even among high school seniors in the lowest performance quintile, 87% felt a high school diploma was not enough and wanted to obtain at least some further education. ( Ibid.)
There is a realistic basis for this level of aspiration. The earnings gap between high school graduates and college graduates has increased substantially. In 1980, males with four or more years of college earned 19% more than high school graduates. By 1993, this gap had widened to 57%, and the trend continues to climb. (Youth Indicators, 1996)
Job skills and job training: Americans recognize that a significant problem for American youth is a lack of job training and job skills and see a need to increase services to youth that would better prepare them for employment.
• Two out of three Americans see a lack of job skills as a serious problem for young adults aged 17-21 in their communities (Yankelovich Partners, “Young Adults At Risk Survey,” 1995)
• Fewer than one out of four (23%) consider the quality of education and job training of young people to be excellent or good. (Peter Hart, Council on Competitiveness, 1991)
• Many more see a need for more job training (67%) and job placement (62%) services. (Yankelovich Partners, “Young Adults At Risk Survey,” 1995)
• An analysis of the United States as compared to six other industrial democracies found it at or near the bottom in the effectiveness of its employment services and school-to-work programs (“Why People Don’t Trust Government,” Nye, Zelikow & King, Harvard, 1997 p.72)
• When asked who should take the lead in providing job training for youth, 43% named individuals and businesses, 35% put the emphasis on government programs and funding and 20% volunteered that both should be involved. (CNN, USA Today/ Gallup survey, 1995)
Moral Values: One of the most serious concerns in society today is a decline in moral values. The public see declining values as a key component in major social and political issues. Attitudes toward young people are framed within the perception of a decline in the family’s ability to transmit successfully the values of respect, responsibility and civility to their children.
• When asked the source of the most serious problems in our society, 51% attribute them mainly to a decline in moral values; only 37% said they stem from economic and financial pressures on the family. (NBC News/Wall Street Journal ,1996)
• A 1996 DYG study found that 87% of Americans (up from 76% in 1994) shared the conviction that our nation’s social morality has eroded. This belief is seen across gender, age and race differences.
• The proportion that sees a decline in family values increased from 62% in 1989 to 76% in 1995. (“American Family Values,” Michaels Opinion Research, 1995)
Teenage Pregnancy: When President Clinton identified teen pregnancy as the nation’s most serious social problem in his 1995 State of the Union Address, his words resonated with the public. Teen pregnancy is seen as a symptom of the erosion of family cohesiveness and is closely associated with out-of-wedlock births. One of the strongest arguments of opponents of the welfare system was that it encouraged teenagers to have kids out of wedlock, a belief shared by six out of ten Americans. (Public Agenda, “The Values We Live By: What Americans Want from Welfare Reform,” 1996)
Youth Crime: What adults think about young people is influenced by their concern about crime and their perception that young people have a heavy share in the increase in crime over the past few decades.
• Despite the fact that crime rates have shown a recent decrease, a 1996 survey found that crime still topped the list of important problems facing the country today, more of a concern than jobs and unemployment. (CBS News/ New York Times,1996)
• The public is concerned that youth crime is on the rise. 86% believe that crimes committed by teenagers in this country had increased from last year; only 2% saw a decrease. (Ibid.)
• 81% see teen-age violence as a big problem in most of the country, though not as bad in their own community. (Ibid.)
The “get tough” attitude to crime in general carries over to youth, with widespread support for more stringent policies for juvenile criminals.
• The large majority of Americans (83%) would mete out the same punishment to juveniles convicted of their second or third crimes as to adults with comparable conviction records. (Gallup for CNN/USA Today, 1994)
• In a 1994 Gallup survey, 61% favoured the death penalty for a teenager who is convicted of murder, up from 24% in 1957.
At the same time, the public also supports early intervention programs for high-risk youth and spending federal funds to provide positive social programs for poor youth.
• 65% of respondents to a 1994 Gallup crime survey favoured the use of federal funds for social programs such as midnight basketball and other activities for poor children.
• Given a choice of methods for reducing crime in this country, 64 % favoured putting money and effort into preventive methods such as better education and job training over improving law enforcement (27%). (Wirthlin Group, 1994)
CONCLUSION
In the end, the Indian Youth serves as a beacon of light in ending the environment crisis. They can serve as an effective force in encouraging people to redo their lifestyles and prod stakeholders to make a concrete plan of action. A well-thought framework, strong research armour and a concerted effort among different youth-led initiatives are key steps to strengthen the youth‘s influence in society. Through these, the Indian Youth will be ready to step up to the sustainability challenge.
Considering that today’s youth will be the tomorrow’s green entrepreneurs we need to cultivate moral and ethical values regarding business and the environment. The establishment and design of companies, without taking into account the impact that they will have on the environment, is what the present generation of young green entrepreneurs must avoid. Our companies must, to a large extent, be accountable for the pollution that they generate. We cannot continue to think, as we have done until now, that the responsibility for keeping the environment healthy and free of garbage is the exclusive purview of the State. It is not enough to label our packages with phrases such as let us protect the environment, recyclable container, and environmentally responsible company. We must instead contribute a part of our capital, along with the State, to developing clean technologies.
In addition to the above two reasons, shortcomings of the Indian bureaucracy in the nature corruption and institutional inertia against reform, ensure the continued use of external professionals in public policy-making in India in the days to come. In fact, in this emerging policy environment, questions are being raised over the wisdom of continuing with the virtual monopoly of civil services over all the positions in the government. The demand for change is coming from not only the general public but also within the civil service. In a recent survey of civil servants, fifty three percent of officers agreed with the idea of lateral entry at higher positions, and among those, twenty three percent strongly agreed. In comparison, thirty six percent of officers disagreed with this proposition with a mere thirteen percent strongly disagreeing.
Going a step further, the ARC stated that there is a need to institutionalize the process of induction of outside talent into the government. The various appointments, statements and surveys point that lateral entry of external professionals in public policy-making is here to stay. Institutionalizing the same through a formal process is certainly a good idea. The earlier the government brings in changes to formalize the process and give it an institutional shape, the better it is for the country.
India needs to go a long way to improve education system and content of education that can be applied on job and industry. Content of education should include personality development, communication skill and team work and team spirit. So that educated youth become employable.
Last but not the last problem to be addressed is to reduce drug abuse and alcoholism among youth. Enhancement of youth participation in politics and social services cannot be overemphasized,
References
• Department of Economic and Social Affairs
o United Nations Programme on Youth (UNPY)
o Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW)
o Division for Sustainable Development (DSD)
o Population Division (UNPD)
o Statistics Division (UNSD)
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Youth Employability in Current Situation Youth not Educated for Employment General Pan India Situation

October 30, 2014, 3:57 pm

By: Dr.Athiqul H. Laskar
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Youth from several Indian states are “not educated enough for employment” as per the market demand as per recent study released? The findings also indicated that “most youth were neither adequately educated nor equipped with vocational skills”.”Just two in every five young men (40 percent) and one in every three young women (33 percent) had completed secondary education…(and) one in every 12 young men and one in four young women had never been to school at all in the country,” said the study conducted under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The study titled ‘Youth in India: Situation and Needs’ assessed the situation of youth in six states – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamilnadu – between 2006 and 2008, involving over 58,000 youths in the age group of 15-29 years. Around 44-52 percent of men and 36-48 percent of women in Maharashtra and the southern states of Andra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu had completed 10 or more years of education, compared to 30-38 percent of men and 13-18 percent of women from the other states. “Basic education can be very important in helping people to get jobs and gainful employment. This connection, while always present, is particularly critical in a rapidly globalising world in which quality control and production according to strict specification can be crucial,” Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said at the release of the study. Around 56 percent of men and 68 percent of women surveyed were interested in acquiring vocational skills to help employability. The study was carried out by the Population Council, Delhi, and International Institute of Population Sciences, Mumbai.

India is shining. India is progressing with an amazing growth rate. Growth rate of India is the second highest in the world after that of China The youth force of India are contributing lot to the same. It is believed that principal reason behind Indian progress is its youth force, highest in number in the world. However, there is a problem. Huge number of Indian youth is not only unemployed but unemployable.

There are two new world leaders China, in manufacturing sector and India, in service sector. Large numbers of white collar jobs are waiting for suitable candidates. Indian youth force, behind the progress of India, is mainly engaged in IT. India is a leader in software. Software industries in India are continually offering white collar jobs besides some blue collars.
India is also world leader in BPO (Business process out sourcing) and KPO (Knowledge process out sourcing). Large numbers of call centres are contributing to the industries and trades of America the US, UK, and Australia, Japan, European Union, Canada Japan and many other developed countries. BPO sector needs large number of blue collars. KPO industries require and offer white collar jobs.
An IT industry has seen a tremendous boom in India. This industry has employed large number of educated youth with handsome salary. Normally, IT is the highest paid sector. Management, banking, finance, retail, telecommunication, entertainment etc. are some other new sectors that helped India in her tremendous growth.
Shortage of Skill Power
These sectors have started facing a typical problem. Despite a large number of educated youth, there is a shortage of skilled manpower. This is the dilemma. There are unemployed youths and the companies are facing shortage of manpower.
A recent survey throws light on the problem, problems with the educated youth. They are mainly lacking three types of skills.
1. Communication skill
2. Analytical skill and problem solving
3. Respective Domain knowledge and skill.
While in interview approximately sixty percent candidates are screened due to lack of communication skills. Rest twenty five percent are screened for analytical skills and five percent for their lack of knowledge in their respective domain. Hence ninety percent of educated youth force are lacking in one of these three main skills required for job and employment. Only ten percent of educated force of India is employable. Employers are struggling hard to attract them with huge pay-packages that are increasing their production cost significantly. The employers are loosing their competitive edge in global markets. Global slow down only adds to the crisis. Corporations are now facing dual problem.
The problem lies in the education system. The Indian education system has a mismatch with the requirements of the industries. Institutes teach what ever they want. Institutes do not teach what industries require. Industries do not require what institutes teach. The syllabus committees have not been interfacing with the industries. Many big industries have set-up their own in house training program to fight with the problem. Most of the newly employed youths are compulsorily undergone employers own training program. This enhances cost of employers enormously. It also wastes time.
The problem and solution have two aspects: Individual and collective.
As an individual you have to choose your courses carefully. You have to interact with the industries to know their requirements. You must choose an institute very carefully. Ensure that they are covering above mentioned three aspects in their syllabus. It is in your best interest to ensure that your institute is interfacing with the requirements of industries before you admit into it.
What should be done as a general measure to solve the problem?
The one point solution of the problem is a change in education system, a radical change. There must be an interface among Government bodies looking after education, Universities, all India committee of technical education and the representatives of the industries. The institutes must educate as per industries’ needs. Have these done, India will not face problem of employability and the youth force of India will not be remain unemployed.
Degrees are not enough in job market.

Enhancing Employee Employability
We are living in the highly connected and cutthroat competitive global world, with changing environment and expectation as well as shifting paradigms. It is an individual’s capability to get an employment, not only because he has a degree and the technical skills but also possesses other soft skills. Once your degree has unlocked the door, you will need the right mix of soft skills, to get employment in competitive market place.
The Corporate houses need employees that can be immediately employed and deployed. Nasscom also confessed recently, that there is huge demand and supply mismatch in the quality work force in terms of the technical skills and skills of communication, articulation and teamwork. India Inc. gears to face its biggest challenge over a talent shortage of 5, 00,000 knowledge workers as per Nasscom McKinsey report. The situation is compounded by the fact that only 25% of the fresh engineers are employable by the multinationals.

Employability is the ability of an individual to be employed. An employability skill is a set of achievements, understandings, personal skills and attitude that make individuals more likely to gain employment and to be effective, competent and successful in their chosen career.

Many large corporate houses and technical firms are investing heavily into the pre-employment training. Organisations that focus strongly on interpersonal skills learning are on average 27 % more productive and enjoy 40 percent higher revenue growth than their competitors, according to a recent study by Accenture. With investment in the pre-employment training, cost of recruitment and training will come down significantly, especially of IT and ITES companies, who need to hire aggressively.

The educational institutes has to innovate themselves and work hard to bridge the gap between industry expectation, requirements and industry education .They need to align the talent and skills development to match corporate expectations and maximise their employability and competitive edge. The importance of enhancement of employee employability cannot be overestimated. It is now time to ensure quality education and focus on honing the employability skills right from the school. It is still remains a question how to bridge the huge gap in the availability of employable skill.
One needs the soft skills like effective communication skills, interpersonal skills, business etiquette and the telephone skills to blend in today’s corporate world. All these skills including leadership skills, motivation skills, teamwork, public speaking, group discussion and even the appropriate dressing are people centric skills. Students are required to imbibe necessary soft skills and competency talents to compete in career market place. These skills also make them fit for employment in industry and corporate world.
People Skills
You cannot succeed just by yourself. You have to be lifted to success by people who are willing to help you. You can become successful only when he learns to deal with the people who make his/her success possible.

Success is built on people. Its people to whom you listen and also listen to you and watch what you do. People are your doorway to success. So pass through those doors diplomatically. People are opportunity. They are new horizons. Then take this understanding and create whole new life for yourself, a more successful life, based upon the ingredient in the formula for success called “Dealing with people.”

It is people who respond to suggestions and whose vanity and pride must be traded upon to achieve your desire. It is people, who must be persuaded, led, directed, cajoled, teased or pleased. It is people who must be “sold” on you, your products, your services, day after day. Therefore to get success, to get what you want out of life, it is vital to know to deal with people and touch the buttons that motivate them Everybody has dreams and wants to fulfill dream in one’s life span. But only few can live their dreams.
A large component of your career success depends on other people. Many professionals and business persons are highly competent and well trained and dedicated in their works. But still fail or failed to advance to their potential because they lack soft skills, skills of dealing with people. We are living in highly connected and cutthroat competitive global world. In addition to required academic, technical education and work experience, one needs soft skills like effective communication skills, interpersonal skills, and business etiquette and telephone skills to blend in today’s corporate world. All these skills including leadership skills, motivation skills, teamwork, public speaking, group discussion and even appropriate dressing are people centric skills. People skills are most important skills of all skills.”

Mr. Emmett C. Murphy author of national bookseller, New York, 1966 of the book “Leadership IQ” writes: “We gained a third important insight when we saw another consistent pattern in the behavior of work leaders: They know how to say the right thing to right people to get the right work done well, on time, and within budget. They reveal themselves by their deeds and thus provide role models for everyone with whom they interact. They have mastered art of conversation.

You must understand the people to succeed in Life.

No success without understanding the People. You must have insight of the people you need to deal. You should talk less and listen more. You must learn to watch and listen to the people. The main technique is to keep your eyes & ears open, mouth closed. You need to have skill and insight for managing, selling and working with people. These skills are essential for getting people to do what you want them to do. You should know and accept the fact that everybody has strength as well as weakness. Everybody has his/her own uniqueness. You must learn to tolerate the other person’s weakness. People need you because of their weakness and not because of their strength. You should not make judgment about others without meeting, knowing and understanding them. Firstly you should observe and listen to them. Always look for personal dynamics beneath the surface.

Insight into the People.

You must have the greatest insight into the field of human motivation most “Satisfied need do not motivate.” It is also essential to know the needs of the people that they value most after physical survival. These needs are: To Be Understood, To Be Affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.

It is important to listen with empathy to understand the people. It gives them psychological air Understanding the people impacts communication in every area of life. You should not bounce the words around but should respond to everyone’s uniqueness. It is important to give others full attention by putting their feeling and thoughts ahead of your own. You should grow habit to understand the other people first.

Seek first to understand then to be understood.

We normally seek first to be understood. We need to listen to other person with deep interest so that we really deeply understand the other human being from that person’s own frame of reference. Most of the people do not hear other people to really listen and understand them. It is their habit to listen the people with the intention of replying them back. While hearing other people, they are either speaking or preparing to reply and are filtering everything from their own perceptions or experiences. Most of us are always filled with our own rightness. We always want others to understand us. We never try to understand what is going on inside another human being. It is important to know that you are dealing with the reality inside another person’s head and heart. You must focus on receiving the deep communication of another human soul.

It lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own to understand the people. That is so simple, so obvious, that anyone ought to see the truth of it at a glance. Yet 90% of the people on this earth ignore it 90% of the time.

Know to deal with you.

You have to be comfortable with yourself before you can be truly comfortable with others. Therefore success in this area would have to do with being happy with you. You should have full confidence and faith in self. You should take responsibility to deal with you so that you can get along and deal with others effectively. Wherever you are, whatever you do, the ability to handle people is one of the most important skills. Getting along with people is the key to personal development. The easiest way to think of this is as expanding spheres of influence. Each area leads to the next.

The better you are at handling people, dealing with people, and the happier and successful you will be with your life.

Getting people to do that you want them to do.

You should know that there is only one way to get anyone to do anything, yes, only one way, and that is by making the other person want to do it. The only way I can get you to do something is by giving you what you want. “Every act you have ever performed since the day you were born,”Said Andrew Carnegie “was performed because you wanted something.” Here are some of the motives most people will do to achieve.

1) Health and the preservation of life
2) Food
3) Sleep
4) Money and the things money will buy
5) Life in the hereafter
6) Sexual gratification
7) The well-being of our children
8) A feeling of importance

You should know that there is only one way to get anyone to do anything, yes, only one way, and that is by making the other person want to do it. The only way I can get you to do something is by giving you what you want. Why talk about what you want? You are always interested in it. But no one else is. The rest of us are just like you: we are interested in what we want. So the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.

Apart from health, money and what money can buy, you must aim to satisfy important need of any human being to get him to do what you want them to do, is to recognised and feel important.

How to make other People “Important “.

There is one longing, almost as deep, almost as imperious, as the desire for food or sleep, which is seldom gratified. It’s “the desire to be important.” The rare individual who honestly satisfies their heart hunger will hold people in the palm of his hand. Give others your full attention by putting their feeling and their thoughts ahead of your own.

A successful leader is always ready to listen and have willingness to learn from everything and everyone. You must recognise the fact that these people can have the best information and these are the very people that you lead. You need to encourage people to speak their mind even if it is controversial. Allowing people to speak their mind doesn’t mean that they will lose respect for your authority as a leader. Actually, quite the opposite will occur. People will begin to feel like they are a contributing factor and important person.

Appreciation:

One of the most neglected virtues of our daily existence is appreciation. In our interpersonal relationship, we should never forget that all our associates are human beings and hunger for appreciation. Let’s cease thinking of our accomplishments, our wants. Let’s try to figure out the other person’s good points. Then forget flattery. Give honest, sincere appreciation.

Communication Skills

The Communication skills can be further divided into the verbal communication, written communication and the telephonic conversation. The Communication skills also include assertive skill and listening skill. In survey after survey, the interpersonal communication skills are consistently ranked at or near the top of a list of all the skills necessary for career success. People who possess these skills enjoy a better relationship at work and more productive interactions with those around them. Teams with members who excel at these skills are more productive and more cohesive. No one is born with these “people skills.” They are the result of attention and practice.

Realize that the communication is more than just the words we use. There are three aspects involved: 1) What you mean to say, 2) How you code this thought into language that is verbalised and 3) How people interpret what you say. Consequently, there is often a tremendous difference, between what you say and what someone hears. Be sensitive to the non-verbal clues of your partner and explain statements that seem puzzling or critical.

Listening skill

Most important aspect of the communication skill is the listening skill. Learn to listen well. To improve your listening skills, you will need to develop genuine interest in your partner. Demonstrate your interest by seizing opportunities to ask questions. Do not change the topic of conversation without acknowledging what the other person has just said. Ignoring what someone is saying is the easiest way to annoy that person, and you would not want to annoy your customer, client, colleague or a superior. If you think that, the current topic needs to be closed, have the agreement of all on that before proceeding to the next topic.

Body language
Body language is the non-verbal communication. The body language includes gestures, postures, movements and the physical distance. Your body never lies. Unconsciously, it telegraphs your thoughts as you fold your arms, cross your legs, stand, walk, move your eyes and mouth. Therefore, good posture is important, and so, too, is an eye contact.

Telephone Conversation
In modern business and corporate world, telephone conversation is very important. A first impression of any organisation is revealed through the first telephonic conversation with any member of the organisation. It is important to be prepared and plan your conversation in advance. You should keep pens, pencils and notepad handy, before placing a call. You should answer calls promptly within three rings. You need to smile genuinely as you pick the phone, as the caller will hear it in your voice. You need to project a tone that is enthusiastic, natural, attentive and respectful. During the conversation, it is important to enunciate or pronounce clearly and use simple English. Never slam the phone or cut off abruptly.

First Impression

When you join a new organisation, remember that you never get a second opportunity to make first impression. You should build gracious image that impress people. These impressions become indelibly engraved, in the minds of others by the way you smile, the way you talk, the way you walk, the way you shake hands, and the way you lean forward to create a bond between yourself and others. Your personality becomes a bridge, between you and the other people and creates the impressions that bind them to you. Present your package of personality, which make lasting impression on your peers, superiors and customers. That includes the appropriate business etiquette and the dressing. Whenever you are new to your workplace, office or group, stop, observe, listen and understand the people around you. You should always be humble and polite, but should carry image and picture of a person who is self-confident and faith in self.
Written Communication involves expressing yourself clearly, using language with precision; constructing a logical argument; note taking, editing and summarising; and writing reports. There are three main elements to written communication: structure (the way the content is laid out), style (the way it is written), and content (what you are writing about).
Assertiveness means ability to act in harmony, with your self-esteem, without hurting or manipulating others. The ability to discern is very essential, while using the assertive skills. Assertiveness training is based on the principles of behaviour therapy. It involves open communication, self-respect and respect for others. It is active orientation to life.

Team working skills:
In modern work environment, team-working skill is most important skill of all the skills. If an employee is master of all the other skills, but cannot work effectively in team with harmony, then he is not suitable in the organisation. The skill involves contributing own ideas effectively and taking a share of the responsibility in a group. The Employee should be assertive – rather than passive or aggressive. He should be able to accept and learn from constructive criticism, and able to provide positive and constructive feedback to others. It is also important that the team have enough freedom and empowerment to feel the ownership necessary to accomplish its task. At the same time, team members should clearly understand their boundaries.
Employment in organized sector during the five year Plans.
Vocational Education

Vocational educational in India aims to develop skilled manpower through diversified courses to meet the requirements of mainly the unorganised sector and to instil self-employment skills in people through a large number of self employment oriented courses. Vocational education is imparted through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and polytechnics. One of the weaknesses of Indian education system is that it does not gives due importance to vocational education. As a result there is a mismatch between the skilled manpower required and skilled manpower available. Every year we churn out millions of graduates who do not have the specific skill sets required by the market. If this trend continues it would hurt our economic growth in the long run. To change this situation first we need to change our mindset. In India, people are obsessed with attaining a graduation degree and generally look down upon vocational education. This has resulted in a situation where on the one hand there are scores of unemployed graduates and on the other hand there is a huge shortage of skilled workers such as plumbers, electricians etc. To rectify this situation vocational training programs in India need to be promoted in a big way. Vocational training courses include:
• Typewriting
• Stenography
• Secretarial Practices
• Computer Operator & Programme Assistant
• Architectural Draughtsmanship
• Desk Top Publishing
• Electrical Technician
• Electronics (Radio/TV/Tape Recorder Mechanic)
• Refrigeration & Air Conditioning
• Plumbing
• Library Assistant
• Cutting/Tailoring & Dress Making
• Hair & Skin Care
• Fruit & Vegetable Preservation Programs
Vocational Training: A must for Indian Economy
In India, people are obsessed with attaining a graduation degree and generally look down upon vocational education. This has resulted in a huge shortage of skilled workers. If this trend continues, it would hurt our economic growth in the long run

FOR VOCATIONAL education and training in India, some 17 ministries and departments are involved in the provision and financing, with total annual training capacity of about 28 lakh (2,800,000) students. But as with many matters managed by our governments, the vocational training system is full of superlatives and potential on the one hand and inefficiency, on the other. The so called agencies have put their slogans only in their printed guidelines and handouts without taking into account the real target populace. In this age of liberalisation, India is still far from training people in different specialisations.
Vocational training is to impart specialised skills and knowledge and instilling social and political attitudes and behaviour patterns essential for successful economic activities by people engaged in dependent employment, self-employment or subsistence work. Vocational training can be of various types, depending on the way it has been acquired.
’Formal training’ refers to all training courses held in state or private (but state-certified) institutions regulated by state guidelines. ’Non-formal training’ covers all forms of training that takes place without being subject to state guidelines. In-company apprenticeships, both in formal or informal sector enterprises, are one of the most common forms of non-formal training. This kind of training also includes all programmes and projects offering skills-upgrading for those already active on the labour market, but who wish to extend their competencies by attending evening or weekend courses. There are no prerequisites for anyone to acquire vocational training. Both men and women can get trained at any time during their life. Studies have already proven that formal education is not a prerequisite for acquiring practical skills for income-generation, especially in the context of the informal sector. However, India’s formal vocational training system often creates minimum educational prerequisites leading to exclusion of those with lower levels of education.
In India, vocational education falls under the charge of the ministry of human resources development (MHRD). The ministry oversees vocational courses being offered in schools in 11th and 12th standard, under a centrally sponsored scheme called ’Vocationalisation of Secondary Education’ since 1988. Only the schools affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) offer the courses in accordance with the board’s scheme of studies and the course structure. The courses are of two-years duration and span six major disciplines, like dairying, farm machinery and equipment (agriculture), accounting and auditing (business and commerce), electrical technology, air conditioning and refrigeration (engineering and technology), X-Ray technician, health care and beauty culture (health and para medical) and preservation of fruits and vegetables, food services and management (home sciences and humanities).
Vocational training, on the other hand, broadly refers to certificate level crafts training (in India) and is open to students, who leave school after completing anywhere from grades 8-12. Programmes administered under the craftsmen training scheme (CTS) are operated by Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and Industrial Training Centres (ITCs). This scheme falls within the purview of the directorate general of employment and training (DGET), under the ministry of labour and employment (MOLE).
At a higher level, the technical education and vocational training system in India produces a labour force through a three-tier system — graduate and post-graduate level specialists (e.g., Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and engineering colleges) trained as engineers and technologists; diploma-level graduates, who are trained in polytechnics as technicians and supervisors; and certificate-level craft people trained in it is, as well as through formal apprenticeships as semi-skilled and skilled workers.
The government of India in recent years has laid a lot of emphasis on streamlining vocational education so that it fulfils the emerging need of the market by focusing on employability skills. In consonance with this thrust, the CBSE has introduced a course in financial market management (FMM), under vocational stream, which is likely to be renamed as professional education and training. In the budget speech 2007-08, Union finance minister announced a scheme for upgradation of 1396 government ITIs into centres of excellence in specific trades and skills through public private partnership. In pursuance of this announcement wide-ranging discussions were held with state governments, industry associations and other stakeholders and a scheme named ’Upgradation of 1396 Government ITIs through Public Private Partnership’ was formulated.
The cabinet committee for economic affairs (CCEA) of the Union cabinet in its meeting held on October 25, 2007 has approved this scheme ‘in principle’ for the XI five year plan period and has given financial approval for one year for up gradation of the first batch of 300 ITIs at a cost of Rs 774.5 crore.
The directorate general of employment and training (DGE&T) in the ministry of labour, government of India initiated CTS in 1950 by establishing about 50 ITIs for imparting skills in various vocational trades to meet the skilled manpower requirements for technology and industrial growth of the country. One of the main reasons for the lack of market responsiveness among vocational training courses is the limited or no participation of the industry in contributing to curricula development. It is the industry which has to finally employ the training graduates. Hence, their mandate in determining what their future employees need to be taught can hardly be overemphasised. There are some rare cases of industry participation, as members of institute management committees (IMCs) for ITIs. But even such participation has been found to namesake, at best.
Studies have only reinforced the fact that the majority of workers in the unorganised economy of India have never been to vocational training institutions and/or school. On the other hand, the formal skills training system, because of its educational entry requirements and long duration of courses, is designed to exclude the underprivileged informal sector workers. Yet, given the vast size of India’s informal workforce, the need to address the skills of informal sector workers is more pressing than any other.
One of the weaknesses of Indian education system is that it does not gives due importance to vocational education. As a result, there is a mismatch between the skilled manpower required and skilled manpower available. Every year we churn out millions of graduates, who do not have the specific skill sets required by the market. If this trend continues, it would hurt our economic growth in the long run. To change this situation, first we need to change our mindset. In India, people are obsessed with attaining a graduation degree and generally look down upon vocational education. This has resulted in a situation, where on the one hand there are scores of unemployed graduates and on the other hand there is a huge shortage of skilled workers, such as plumbers, electricians, etc. And this must change.
Youth and Sustainable Livelihood.
Livelihood is a broader category than employment and more in line with the actual manner in which many young people organize themselves and their activities in order to survive. An adaptability and dynamic livelihood capability is the key to generating sustainable livelihoods. Dynamic livelihood capabilities can be thought of as enterprising behaviour in a developing context. The institutional challenge is to improve the effectiveness of the non-formal training system in order to mediate the latent potential of young people into productive social and economic activity, while understanding their current livelihood conditions and capabilities. Governments need to address key global policies that affect youth employment and livelihood. They need to take strategies that promote self-employment and entrepreneurship, school to work programmes and work-based training. A partnership with the private sector needs to be strengthened and the use of new information and communication technologies to support youth employment and training must be encouraged. The youth themselves must be empowered to generate the solutions to youth employment and their best practices and success stories must be acknowledged at all levels to support further replication of such initiatives from the grassroots to the global level.
The United Nation and Youth Participation
The United Nations has long recognized the important role youth play in the continuing development of the world in which they live. The United Nations drew worldwide attention to the importance of youth in observing the 1985 International Youth Year: Participation, Development and Peace. Acknowledging the need to expand the opportunities for young people to participate fully in their society, the General Assembly adopted in 1995 the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and beyond as a framework for nations to increase their capacities to address youth needs and issues.
Youth in the Asia-Pacific region constitute a significant proportion of the population, highlighting the importance of fully integrating youth into society through youth participation. Youth, according to the United Nations definition, is the age group between 15 and 24 years old, which represents approximately one-fifth of the total population of the UNESCAP region. The underlying premise of youth participation is that in encouraging youth to participate more fully in society, youth are essentially encouraged to be more knowledgeable on their rights and become more responsible citizens. It is envisaged that once young people have the opportunity to realize their potential, be respected by society and fully participate in their community, consistent with their human rights and responsibilities, society at large will benefit. Youth is therefore the key to the future that thus places them at the core of human resources development (HRD).
UNESCAP recognized the importance of youth participation as a priority in adopting resolution 52/4[3] on “Promoting human resources development among youth in Asia and the Pacific” in April 1996. This was in response to the United Nations General Assembly adoption of the World Programme Action for Youth, which highlighted ten priority areas including “the full and effective participation of youth in society and decision-making.”
Youth Employability in USA
Job skills and job training
Americans recognize that a significant problem for American youth is a lack of job training and job skills and see a need to increase services to youth that would better prepare them for employment.
• Two out of three Americans see a lack of job skills as a serious problem for young adults aged 17-21 in their communities (Yankelovich Partners, “Young Adults At Risk Survey,” 1995)
• Fewer than one out of four (23%) consider the quality of education and job training of young people to be excellent or good. (Peter Hart, Council on Competitiveness, 1991)
• Many more see a need for more job training (67%) and job placement (62%) services. (Yankelovich Partners, “Young Adults At Risk Survey,” 1995)
• An analysis of the United States as compared to six other industrial democracies found it at or near the bottom in the effectiveness of its employment services and school-to-work programs (“Why People Don’t Trust Government,” Nye, Zelikow & King, Harvard, 1997 p.72)
• When asked who should take the lead in providing job training for youth, 43% named individuals and businesses, 35% put the emphasis on government programs and funding and 20% volunteered that both should be involved. (CNN, USA Today/ Gallup survey, 1995)
Conclusion
India is already been recognised as second fastest economy, after China. India is one of the largest economies in the world, and shall continue its rapid urbanization and economic development over the next several decades. This is a very positive and welcome development.
India is one large country politically. But there are many India so far as Indian youth and their problems are concerned. The problem of rural youth is different, especially right education, employability, education and soft skills Training facility and vocational training. Youth of urban India and India of cities has different problems.
India needs to go a long way to improve education system and content of education that can be applied on job and industry. Content of education should include personality development, communication skill and team work and team spirit. So that educated youth become employable.
India has to create state wise Vocational Training and Employment Institutions and Centres. There should be greater emphasis on self Employment opportunities and training.

Youth Delinquency

October 30, 2014, 3:54 pm

By: Dr.Athiqul H. Laskar
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INTRODUCTION: Crime is the violation of the rules and regulations enforced by the society from time to time for which definite punishment is prescribed by law. Members in every society are expected to act according to its established norms and laws. But when an individual finds it difficult or impossible to satisfy his wants and desires in a direct and socially accepted manner, he encounters the alternative of renouncing his motive or attempting to find a substitute satisfaction. When good solutions are not available, he engages himself in anti-social behaviour of criminal nature.
Concept of Crime: According to Paul Tappan, “crime is an intentional act or omission in violation of criminal law committed without defence or justification, and sanctioned by the state as a felony or misdemeanour”. “Crime is an act of violation of law, and criminal is a person who does an act in violation of law”. The concept of crime is an unusually difficult one, since it is difficult to find any definition of crime that does not have a large element of circularity. In general, crimes are committed as events and actions that are prescribed by the criminal law of a particular country.
It is not easy to sociologically define crime particularly because of its implicit roots in the concept of crime. Crime is considered as a deviant behaviour, because it is an act of human against prevailing norms of the society. A crime is further viewed by different parts of the world, even by different sections of the same people differently. Crime by a particular society at a particular period of time may not be so at a different time and for different people.
Generally speaking, in India bigamy is illegal; in a Muslim society, a man can have as many as four wives. In some communist countries, free enterprise is illegal; the free enterprise system is a social tradition in the United States and many American laws reinforce them.
In different countries and societies, there are different conceptions of crime. Social conception varies according to the conventions of the particular society. The definition of crime becomes too wide. A law enacted today may find it against the interest of society after experience. The law will be changed and thus what is criminal today may not be criminal tomorrow. There are so many acts, which are treated as “crime” in the actual sense of the law, but in practice, the criminals are not punished for such acts, because they could interest others. To quote an example, it is said that in France, about one million people flourished in post-war black-marketing. Although black-marketing is a crime in France, according to an eminent French statesman, it was due to black-marketers that the French nation did not starve in those bleak days.
Men are by nature prone to commit crimes. Emile Durham one of the eminent sociologists made an outstanding contribution to the study of crime. He says that a society without crime is impossibility, for the very organization of complex societies prevents total conformity to all social rules by all members. Moreover, crime may even have positive consequences for a social system. The existence of crime strengthens collective sentiments as to what is right and proper. It serves to contrast the unacceptable with the acceptable. The solidarity of the social group is enhanced when conformers unite against law violators and reaffirm their own commitment to the law. Durkheim believes that those who engage in criminal behaviour play a definite role in normal social life, and this role can even be a positive one.
Criminology Vs Sociology: The most fundamental mechanism is the individual internalization of social norms, which is the goal of major institutions such as organized education, religion, and family. Indeed the widespread acceptance and support of basic normative standards by members of the society is the most effective force in preventing deviant behaviour. However, since conflict over the content and legitimacy of social rules nearly always exists, societies also establish formal mechanisms of control. Official agencies of the state enact legislation, prohibiting certain types of behaviour, and formal enforcement apparatus is vested with the power to detect and punish violation of these rules. Although criminology is a long established field of study, crime remains one of the least understood of social problems, particularly in the key contents of causality and prevention.
Criminology in its narrowest sense simply means “the study of crime”. Mannheim defines a little more widely, that it is a body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon.
Sutherland and Cressey state that there are three principal divisions of criminology: i) the sociology of law, ii) the study of the cause of crime, and iii) penology, which is concerned with the control and treatment of crime. Today the discipline of criminology is characterized by a greater inter-disciplinary approach, more sophisticated research methods, and greater emphasis on empirical research. But criminology is still not generally recognized as a separate discipline, and in most colleges and in many universities it is taught under the umbrella of sociology or criminal justice. In other words, criminology is very much an “applied” science and heavily dependent upon and inter-connected with, other disciplines. Since criminology is so dependent upon, and inter-connected with other disciplines, it is understandable that many criminologists have their origins in and major afflictions with, one or other of the major fields.
Sociology is the study of human society and human social behaviour. This includes rules of behaviour, norms, laws, and social expectations, and hence would logically include a study of the violations of those norms, measures taken to prevent those violations and punishments inflicted – both formally and informally – on offenders. This, in sort, is criminology, or at least becomes criminology when the norms under discussion have been codified in criminal law. Nevertheless, a body of knowledge about crime has been generated from sociology, psychology, political science, and criminal law. Since criminology is an applied subject, many criminologists have been primarily trained in sociology, public administration, political science, psychology or criminal law. And those who study the criminal problems are acutely aware of the numerous pitfalls around, when they try to separate out for detailed examination of social, psychological and physical factors that are considered to be important in the explanation of criminal behaviour.
Crime and Justice System in India: Crime is a major source of social concern today in India. All daily newspapers devote a significant proportion of column inches to reports of murder and theft and accounts of sensational trials. Increases in crime rates will often be treated as headline news. According to the National Crime Record Bureau, in an hour, about 187 cognizable crimes under the IPC and 443 crimes under the local and special laws are committed. In one day, the police grapples with 832 thefts, 258 riots, 66 robberies and 333 burglaries and 2,991 other criminal offences.
In order to control the criminal activities, there are three institutions that play a role in the enforcement of criminal justice system in India – the Police, the Courts, and the Prisons. Law enforcement and management of law and order, security, crime prevention and crime detection are essentially enforced and performed by the police authorities. Three major laws, apart from the Police Act, 1861, that govern the role and performance of police are The Indian Penal Code, 1860, The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, and The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
The Indian Penal Code (IPC) identifies the acts of omissions and commissions that constitute the offences, and makes them punishable under this Act. It divides offences into several categories and embodies the substantial criminal law of the country. The Evidence Act is a major law relating to evidence and applies to all judicial court or court martial. Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is the major procedural law relating to conduct of investigation, trial, and appeal.
It provides the mechanism for the punishment of offence against the substantial criminal law. The code also formulates police duties.
Apart from these, to cater to various specific needs, several new laws have been enacted from time to time to meet the growing crime prevention needs. They are broadly categorized as (i) special law (vide section 41 of IPC) which is applicable to a particular subject and (ii) local law (vide section 42 of IPC) which is applicable to particular part of India. Collectively they are known as “Special and Local Laws” (SLL).
Non-cognizable crimes are those where the police cannot arrest a person without a warrant, and so are generally left to be pursued by the affected parties themselves in the courts. Police do not initiate investigation in non-cognizable crimes except with magisterial permission.
Patterns of Crime: Though the Institutions of police, courts, and prisons of the criminal justice system play a vital role in defending criminal activities, India still faces the patterned criminal activities that would include violations ranging from adultery to abduction and from alcohols to skyjacking. Criminal offences and the characteristics of lawbreakers are almost as varied as non-criminal offences and law abiders. Hence, the law-violating behaviours reflect patterned interaction or a purposeful social organization centered on criminal activities. These patterns of crime include organized crime, professional crime, white-collar crime, juvenile crime, gender offence, homicide, and assault.
Organized Crime: Organized crimes are illegal activities carried out as a part of well-designed plan developed by a large organization seeking to maximize its overall profit. The structure of organized crime, outlined by the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice in 1967, reflects both the extended family of traditional societies and military organizations. A major characteristic of organized crime is that many of its activities are not predatory (such as robbery which takes from its victims). Instead, organized crime generally seeks to provide the public desired goods and services that cannot be obtained legally (drugs, gambling, prostitution, etc.) For its success, organized crime relies on public demand for illegal services.
The evils caused to society and to the economy by organized crimes are enormous. Through gambling and drug traffic, the lives of many individuals and their families are traumatized. Labour racketeering and infiltration of legitimate business lead to higher price of goods, lower-quality products, forced closing of some businesses, establishment of monopolies, and unemployment of workers, misuse of pension and welfare benefit, and higher taxes. Through corruption of public officials, organized crime leads to public cynicism about the honesty of politicians and the democratic process. It also leads to higher taxes and mismanagement of public funds. Organized crime is developing new market place scams, including counterfeiting, consumer credit cards and airline tickets.
Professional Crime: Sutherland describes that the attitudes and behaviour of professional criminals distinguish them from others involved in crime. These people make their careers in larceny, forgery, robbery, confidence games or some other illegal activities. They approach their work with the same sort of professional standards as doctors and lawyers. They are usually skilful enough to make crime an economic livelihood and are seldom apprehended because nothing illegal is attempted before either the police or the courts, or both have been paid off to ensure safety. Even in the more hazardous occupation of robbery, professional criminals are considerably more prudent than amateurs and are less likely to be caught. Professional criminals take great pains to protect themselves; their social visibility is low, but their total contribution to commit crime remains uncertain.
White-Collar Crime: The most costly and perhaps most frequently occurring white-collar crimes are committed by “respectable” middle-class and upper-class citizens. White-collar crimes are work-related offences committed by people of high status. White-collar crimes are invariably committed by those who are ingenious, clever, shrewd, rich and greedy persons who have developed political clouts. White-collar offences against customers include false advertising, stock manipulation, violations of food and drug laws, release of industrial waste products into public waterways, illegal emissions from industrial smoke stacks and price-fixing agreements. Embezzlement is also a white-collar offence in which an employee fraudulently converts some of the employees’ funds for personal use through altering company records.
This new type of “White-collar crime” adversely affects the health and material welfare of community as a whole and also threatens the entire economic fabric of the country. These criminals, due to their political and financial influence, are able to capture the administrative machine of the state and escape from the clutches of prosecution.
Juvenile Delinquency: Juvenile crime is usually termed delinquency. The maximum age today for juvenile delinquents according to the Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 is 16 years for boys and 18 years for girls. Different rules apply to offences committed by juveniles and those offences are handled by separate juvenile courts. The violations for which minors can be arrested include not only the ones applicable to adults in the same jurisdiction but also a series of vague categories such as habitual vagrancy, sexual promiscuity, truancy, incorrigibility and endangering morals, health or general welfare of the minor. Judges in the juvenile cases are expected to be flexible in judging young people and devising ways of rescuing them from lives of crime. Some judges consistently sentence girls, who are accused of sexual promiscuity, to reform-schools while dismissing cases of boys similarly accused. Others tend to release middle class youngsters to the custody of their families, while sentencing lower class minority young charged with the same offences to correctional institutions.
Armando Morales has classified youth gangs into four types: Criminal, Conflict, Retreatist, and Cult/Occult gangs.
Criminal Gangs: Criminal gangs have a primary goal, that is, material gain through criminal activities such as theft of property from people or premises, extortion, fencing, and drug trafficking.

Conflict Gangs: They engage in violent conflict with individuals of rival groups that invade their neighbourhood or commit acts that they consider degrading or insulting.

Retreatist Gangs: Retreatist gangs focus on getting “high” or “leaded” alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, heroin or other drugs. Individuals tend to join this type of gang to secure continued access to drugs.

Cult/Occult Gangs: They engage in devil or evil worship cult which refers to systematic worshipping of evil or the devil; occult implies keeping something secret or hidden or a belief in supernatural or mysterious powers.
In a very real sense, a delinquent gang is created because the needs of youths are not being met by the family, neighbourhood or traditional community institutions (such as the schools, police, recreational and religious institutions).
Sex Offence: Sex offences include rape, prostitution, dowry death/ harassment, molestation, and abduction. It is a highly underreported crime because victims believe that they have nothing to gain and more to lose by making a report. The victims are afraid of social embarrassment, interrogation by sometimes unsympathetic law enforcement officials, and humiliating public testimony in court about the offence. A danger to society of underreporting rape is that the rapist is less likely to fear apprehension and thus more likely to seek out his victims.
Homicide and Assault: Criminal homicide involves the unlawful killing of one person by another. Criminal assault is the unlawful application of physical force on another person. Most homicides are unintended outcomes of physical assaults. People get into physical fights because they are incensed at others’ actions, and decide to retaliate. Fighting is often an attempt by one or both to save face when challenged or degraded. Homicides frequently are “Crime of Passion”, which occurs during a violent argument or other highly charged emotional situation.
Salient Factors of Crime: Man is not inherently guilty. Nobody is born criminal from the womb of his or her mother. The circumstances and the environments or the economic conditions may force any one to commit an anti-social act. The problem of crime is not uniform or caused by the same factors. It is true that lack of stable background, faster change, and greater need of adaptability are the social characteristics, and they are the general background against which criminals must be viewed.
Social Factors and Crime: Family structures and relationships, peer-group relations, education, and occupational status are related to social factors of crime. There may be institutional arrangements that facilitate the increase of the probability or even cause of crime. Cloward and Ohlin argued that societal structures, as they now exist, block the opportunity of many individuals to achieve “success”. Some individuals, who are identifiable by their socio-economic characteristics, cannot achieve success by means generally accepted by society: they are blocked from legal success and reach for success by criminal means. Judith A. Wilks states that most people who commit the ordinary or index crimes come from low socio-economic background. This is particularly true for younger offenders. Many studies on juvenile offenders have concluded that a vast majority of the subjects live in low-income areas. There is also another view according to Sutherland that lower class people are simply more likely to be arrested and convicted, whereas middle and upper class often manage to avoid arrest and particularly conviction.
Geographical Factors and Crime: For a variety of reasons, Robert H. Gordon observes that cities seem to produce and nurture considerably more crime than rural areas. Suburban crime rates are higher than rural rates but still considerably below urban rates. One reason for the high urban rate is the presence of slum or ghetto areas with their poverty, unemployment and over crowding results with crime. Urbanity was supposed to destroy rigid primordial identities and lead to the emergence of a new, open accommodative and pluralistic culture. It was also believed that urban centres would represent scientific rationality, techno-industrial progress and a vibrant civil society filled with an active public sphere and life-affirming cultural institutions. But now urban centres are becoming increasingly insecure, tension ridden, and pathological. Urban-rural differences are the most significant factors in the geographic distribution of crime.
Demographic Factors and Crime: Demography is about the population growth and change. It includes age structure of population, fertility and mortality patterns, migration and mobility patterns, and the ethnic composition of society. The relative proportion of males to females in the population, race, age or sex is also linked to actual crime rates. Hasenpunsch has found that the percentage of young males is a good predictor of crime rates in Canada.
Similarly the influence of the age composition of a population on crime rates has generally shown relationship. Fox conducted a more sophisticated study using temporal data in the United States in an attempt to predict crime rates. He found that the proportion of the population (non white) between the age group of eighteen and twenty-one years was significantly related to the violent crime rate, and that the proportion of the population (non-white) between the age group of fourteen and seventeen years was significantly related to the property crime rate. Thus his results support the idea that demographic structure does help to explain temporal changes in crime.
Economic Factors and Crime: The economic determinist, Karl Marx, advocates that private ownership of property results in poverty which distinguishes those who own the means of production from those whom they exploit for economic benefit. The latter turn to criminal as a result of this poverty. Crime is, at least in part, the result of economic conditions. At an individual level, lack of income creates an inability to maintain an adequate standard of living, and consequently triggers crime as a means to gain income. Lack of income is often the result of unemployment. Unemployment also creates excess leisure. This excess leisure is often spent in socializing with others in similar circumstances or in committing deviant behaviour. As might be expected, most persons who commit the ordinary or index crimes, come from low socio-economic backgrounds. This is particularly true for younger offenders.
Opportunity Factors and Crime: Crime is not caused by a single factor. Traditionally crime is related to socio economic or socio demographic variables. For a crime to occur there must be both an individual who wants to commit an offence and an opportunity to commit that offence. Mayhew, et al. describes “opportunities that attach to the properties of objects involved in crime” and present four characteristics that help to show how opportunity and crime are related.
Ecology and Crime: Ecology is concerned with systems. The ecological approach describes and analyses the system of interdependence among different elements in the common setting. Human ecology is the inter-relationship of man and his spatial setting. It is concerned not only with the spatial distribution of people and institutions, but also with interactive relationships between individuals and groups and the way these relationships influence or are influenced by, particular spatial patterns and processes. It is concerned with cultural, racial, economic, and other differences in so far as preferences and prejudices associated with these differences serve to bring people socially or spatially together or keep them apart.
The ecological system has been described as having five elements: population, organization, environment, technology, and social-psychological factors. Ecology is concerned with the distribution and relationship of man to their environment. And the phenomena, human crime, are due to the relationship between man and his physical, social, and cultural environment. Today nobody can deny that knowledge of every individual criminal is necessary to determine the causes of crime. Human nature is immensely complex. Environmental conditions are also immensely complex. Between these two complexities, man’s individuality develops or deteriorates. If an individual is unable to adjust himself to society, he is deemed to failure, and a failure of life may turn out to be anything insane, criminal, pervert, introvert, etc.
The disorganisation theorists have left an enormous legacy in criminology; spawning cultural deviance theories, strain theories, learning theories, and control theories. It could be said that all modern criminological theories can be traced back to social disorganisation theory.
The dominant theme in twentieth century thinking about the origins of criminal motivation for the different crimes assumes that, forces external to the individual shape criminal behaviour. Sociologists explore crime at three levels within a social cone of resolution. The term “cone of resolution” is used more in sorting through the many different levels at which crime is studied. The possible levels within a cone of resolution are infinite, but they are usually divided into three levels: Micro, Meso, and Macro.
At the macro level, sociologists have been concerned about analyzing, describing, and accounting for large-scale patterns in the social, temporal, and spatial distributions of crime rates among very large aggregates of people, such as a nation, a province, or a city. At the meso level, sociologists have tried to account for criminal motivation and the patterns of criminal organization within small groups. At the micro level, sociologists have tried to explain the development of individual criminal motivation through the mechanisms of socialization.
Environment and Crime: The exact nature of the relationship between crime and the environment has, however, come under much debate. The writer discusses that, though studies reveal a multitude of conflicting findings, it appears that the correlation between crime and the environment is determined by interactive and complex factors, involving much variation at the level of spatial and temporal determination. The crime and environment are interwoven in a complex tapestry of factors interpreted by the criminal, such as nodes, paths, edges, and the environmental backcloth of the situation – of which the criminal himself is an integral part.
The crime should be investigated as a broad range of behaviour which comes from individual incentives. The environment works primarily in that it makes the offender feel comfortable about committing the crime. An individual may feel that an environment is suitable for crime based on physical factors such as the type of neighbourhood, the crime site’s exact location, the crime’s surrounding street layout and other factors that are social, psychological and physical. These latter factors include the location’s sense of territoriality, the socioeconomic status of the criminal and crime area inhabitants, the readiness of the criminal, triggers, the criminal’s routine behaviour and familiarity with a crime area, awareness and activity space, opportunity, layout of the city and streets, potential suitable targets, surveillability of the crime area, the building construction within crime areas and edges and nodes defining the crime area.”
“People have been long aware of the effect the environment has upon criminal behaviour. In fact, historically crime was viewed as very environment-based and solutions to crime were based on environmental changes.”

Crime Prevention: “One of the main roles of the police is to prevent crime. The police, however, can not prevent all crime from occurring. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the police in their role of crime prevention is debatable. It should be studied to what degree the police can prevent crime and whether this is a realistic expectation. Although the police are charged with the duty of crime prevention, this is often not an easy role for the police to fulfil.

White Collar Crime: We see that one reason for the escalation of white-collar crime is that the legal system does not punish such crimes effectively and that this is turn reflects our social values, which basically value property more than people. This tends to encourage white-collar crime. Another reason is that corporations have no moral or legal duties except to their shareholders – so that killing people can sometimes be seen as justified. All in all, it seems that the rise in white-collar crime is linked to the materialist, consumerist nature of our society, which is reflected in our legal systems.”

Criminology and Gender: John Hagan’s power-control theory of gender and delinquency seems to be primarily a conflict, anti-feminist theory. The paper argues that gender-based theories are a most welcome innovation in the field of criminology, rectifying a profound insensitivity to the fact that women exist and allowing policies that actively combat sexist biases and stereotypes. The paper relates that many feminist theories of crime must be conflict theories, due to the fact that feminism itself is arguably built upon a conflict theory view of the world.

“In the broadest sense, sociological and criminological theories tend to fall into two very different camps: conflict theories and consensus theories. Criminological conflict theories emphasise the political nature of crime, and view society as being based on conflict, as opposed to consensus. Conflict theories posit the existence of two or more groups in conflict, such as two different classes, or many different groups vying to achieve their own ends. An appearance of consensus is created by using laws to enforce consensus, by for example enforcing the law. On the other hand, consensus theory focuses on the stability of society, and sees the maintenance of this stability as a central endeavour – in which most people participate willingly, while some have to be coerced by law enforcers.”
Juvenile delinquency refers to abnormal social or legal behaviour by children or adolescents, for dealing with juveniles, such as juvenile detention centres. There are a multitude of different theories on the cause of crime most if not all of which can be applied to the causes of youth crime.
Juvenile sex crimes: Minor commit sexual crimes refer to individuals adjudicated in a criminal court for a sexual crimes are defined as sexually abusive behaviour committed by a person under the age of 18 that is perpetrated “against the victim’s will, without consent, and in an aggressive, exploitative, manipulative, or threatening manner.”
Examining prevalence data and the characteristics of juvenile sex offenders is a fundamental component to obtain a precise understanding of this heterogeneous group. With mandatory reporting laws in place, it became a necessity for providers to report any incidents of disclosed sexual abuse. Much of the present day juvenile sex crimes are caused because of an over exposure to the media’s portray of society.
Differential association: The theory of Differential association also deals with young people in a group context, and looks at how peer pressure and the existence of gangs could lead them into crime. It suggests young people are motivated to commit crimes by delinquent peers, and learn criminal skills from them. The diminished influence of peers after men marry has also been cited as a factor in desisting from offending. There is strong evidence that young people with criminal friends are more likely to commit crimes themselves
Risk factors
Individual risk factors: Young males are especially likely to be impulsive which could mean they disregard the long-term consequences of their actions, have a lack of self-control, and are unable to postpone immediate gratification.
Mental disorders: Conduct disorder usually develops during childhood and manifests itself during an adolescence life. Some juvenile behaviour is attributed to the diagnosable disorder known as conduct disorder. Criminals begin committing antisocial behaviour before entering grade school and are versatile in that they engage in an array of destructive behaviours, offend at exceedingly high rates, and are less likely to quit committing crime as they age.
Family environment: Family factors which may have an influence on offending include; the level of parental supervision, the way parents discipline a child, parental conflict or separation, criminal parents or siblings, and the quality of the parent-child relationship Children brought up by lone parents are more likely to start offending than those who live with two natural parents.
Prevention: Delinquency Prevention is the broad term for all efforts aimed at preventing youth from becoming involved in criminal, or other antisocial, activity. Increasingly, governments are recognizing the importance of allocating resources for the prevention of delinquency. Because it is often difficult for states to provide the fiscal resources necessary for good prevention, organizations, communities, and governments are working more in collaboration with each other to prevent juvenile delinquency.
With the development of delinquency in youth being influenced by numerous factors, prevention efforts are comprehensive in scope. Prevention services include activities such as substance abuse education and treatment, family counselling, youth mentoring, parenting education, educational support, and youth sheltering.
GANG INVOLVEMENT:
Common factors and characteristics: Poverty, family stress, and school dropout characterize the lives of gang members. More than 70 percent of incarcerated delinquents also have learning disabilities (Morgan, 1979; Murphy, 1986; Stanley & Hudson, 1981) which factor into the chronic truancy, school failure, and alienation that accompany gang involvement (Hernandez, 1998; Huff, 1998).
Incarceration among gang members is normative, as are drug use, violence, and criminal activity. The literature has long reported that underlying these negative attributes is a detachment from hope–gang members believe they have nothing to lose. Gang youth seldom finish school, have few prospects for employment, and find conventional opportunities out of their reach (Curry & Spergel, 1988; Hernandez, 1998; Lattimore et al., 1995; Richardson, 2001; Rodriguez, 1993; Thrasher, 1936; Vigil, 1988 & 1989).
The sum of handicaps associated with gang involvement has been termed “multiple marginality” by Vigil (1988) and discussed by others (Hillet al., 1999; Loeber & Farrington, 1998; U.S. Department of Justice, 1999), including factors specific to girls (Campbell, 1987; Moore & Hagedorn, 2001).
INDIAN COMMUNITIES AND GANG INVOLVEMENT
Most Indian reservations lack basic infrastructure, including phone service, adequate housing, and reliable health care. Few jobs are available and life expectancies are as low as 48 years (American Indian Relief Council, n.d.; Tiller Research, Inc., 1996). The high rates of adolescent suicide, depression, alcoholism, and school dropout indicate the toll that chronic poverty takes on reservation youth (Arrillaga, 2001; O’Connell,1987). In spite of these, tribal children traditionally were shielded from gang activity by two conditions: the presence of a cohesive, tribal culture providing participation and identity, even for troubled youth; and a rural isolation that made it difficult for teenagers to find drugs, cars, weapons, and populated places to commit crime. The recent surge in gang activity reflects both a growing loss of culture and community and a growing exposure to urban environments (Conway, 1999; Donnermeyer et al., 1996; Devitt, 2002; Hailer, 1998; Hailer & Hart, 1999; Juneau, 1998).
It is “highly significant” that the only on-site assessment of reservation gang activity, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) study “Finding and Knowing the Gang ‘Nayee’ on the Navajo Nation” (1995), reported that Navajo gang members were likely to be non-speakers of their native tongue; report severe problems in school; come from urbanized, poor, and generally dysfunctional families; and lack contact with clan members and tribal ceremonies. In other words, they were the adrift, marginalized equivalents of their non-Indian peers.
Youth culture and crime: Newspapers highlight daily the menace posed by “hoodies” and gangs, and the increasingly creative range of measures implemented against them – from ASBOs to devices emitting high-pitched sounds designed to deter teenagers from gathering in public places.
Is this new? The historian Geoffrey Pearson quotes a 60-year-old named Charlotte Kirkman, who lamented that, “I think morals are getting much worse… There were no such girls in my time as there are now. When I was four or five and twenty my mother would have knocked me down if I had spoken improperly to her”. Kirkman was speaking in 1843, as part of an investigation into the bad behaviour of contemporary youth. Lord Ashley, speaking in the House of Commons in the same year, argued that “the morals of the children are tenfold worse than formerly”.
Past generations, then, have been just as convinced as we are that the “youth of today” were misbehaving more than ever before. Pearson has suggested that such fears about youth are a way of expressing more general uncertainties about social change and recur with each generation.
So are we wrong to believe things have got worse? Notwithstanding the above, the criminal statistics – first collected systematically in Britain from around 1900 – might appear to suggest that the situation has deteriorated over the last 70 or 80 years. After a relatively stable period between 1900 and 1930, rates of juvenile crime began increasing in the 1930s. Apart from a slight decrease following the Second World War, youth crime figures continued on a consistent and dramatic upward course until the mid-1990s.
In the 1950s increasing youth crime was largely attributed to a decline in family cohesion following the war, and to increasing consumer affluence. The new youth cultures of the post war era provided a focus for such beliefs. Particularly notable in the 1950s were the Teddy Boys; with their flamboyant dress, fondness for US cultural imports such as rock’n’roll, and rowdy public behaviour, they were seen as epitomising the new culture of greed and amorality.
Society looked back nostalgically to what was remembered as the more “justifiable”, poverty-fuelled crime of the pre-war era. Later decades had similar beliefs about the causes of rising youth crime, leading to successive panics about mods, rockers and hippies in the 1960s, skinheads and punks in the 1970s and 1980s, and recently ravers and “hoodies”.
To some extent, these fears can be seen as justified, in that it is certainly arguable that the rising ownership of consumer goods has created more opportunities for theft. However, it does not follow from this that the morals of earlier generations were necessarily higher, merely that their immorality did not take the form of the theft of consumer goods!
More generally, criminal statistics do not tell the whole story of youth crime. In particular, definitions of criminal behaviour change over time. One example of this is that police are increasingly becoming involved in the management of incidents that once upon a time would have remained a matter for schools and parents. In 2004, the BBC reported that a 12-year-old schoolboy was “arrested, DNA-tested, fingerprinted and formally reprimanded” after throwing a fork at a girl during a playground argument. The casual violence and petty crime of the Edwardian slums, by contrast, took place largely away from police eyes.
In the same way, changing recording systems also have an effect on crime statistics. It is very difficult, for example, to compare today’s computerised data collection systems with the localised, ad hoc, paper-based approach of the Edwardian age. The existence of more sophisticated recording systems tends to mean that more crime is recorded.
Another issue is that new forms of media, such as the internet, create new forms of misbehaviour that have high public visibility. Incidents of “happy slapping” caught on mobile phone can be distributed around the world within minutes. Such cases bring crime “into the living room” of people who may not previously have been concerned by it. This does not, however, mean that youth behaviour is worse than it used to be.
Overall, we need to recognise that our fear of crime has very little to do with the actual risk of falling victim to it. Youth crime rates have been falling consistently for over a decade, yet this has not affected the degree of panic felt about youth misbehaviour today.
What does history teach us? We should not deny that there are issues of concern surrounding antisocial behaviour and crime committed by children. However, our faulty grasp of the history of the problem is equally if not more problematic. Harking back to a non-existent “golden age” of deference and respect for elders is not merely harmless nostalgia: it has negative consequences for the overall relationship between adults and the young, which is increasingly characterised by fear and suspicion in both directions. In many ways, this climate of suspicion is greater than in past decades. The increasingly independent, confident and commercialised child and youth culture which has grown since the 1950s has gone hand-in-hand with an increasing uncertainty about the social role of young people. Earlier eras had clearer ideas about the value of the young. In Edwardian Britain, for example, discussion around children focused on their role as future citizens, workers and soldiers.
The eugenicist Caleb Saleeby was typical in arguing that “the history of nations is determined not on the battlefield but in the nursery”. This vision had repugnant aspects – not least the idea that working class children should be raised in part as cannon-fodder for future wars – but it also meant that the young were valued as a precious resource for the future.
In recent decades, the increasing notion of children as a primarily selfish “lifestyle choice” by their parents means that we no longer have a clear sense of their social value. We need to start thinking about ways of improving adult perceptions of the young, rather than thinking up panic solutions to an imaginary cataclysm of declining morals. Indeed, the past 15 years have seen the dismantling of long-standing principles that established the lesser criminal responsibility of children as compared to adults, and attempted to ensure their welfare in the face of their greater vulnerability. Since at least the 17th century, for example, the common law has operated using the presumption that unless proven otherwise, children aged fewer than 14 were doli incapax – incapable of knowing right from wrong. This was abolished in the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act.
In the same way, the 1854 Reformatory and Industrial Schools Act established the principle that children and young people receiving custodial sentences should be held in dedicated facilities, and that the regime in such facilities should be reformative rather than punitive.
One of the founders of the system, Mary Carpenter, argued that young criminals “have been hitherto so despised, that they hardly know whether there is within them anything to be respected. Yet let them be treated with respect… and they will give a ready response”. Today, this ideal has been seriously undermined, to the extent that the vast majority of young offenders are held in conditions that differ very little from those in adult jails.
The United Kingdom recently came bottom in a league of 21 industrialised nations for child quality of life, leading to headlines warning that British children are “the unhappiest in the western world”. The chief executive of the Children’s Society, Bob Reitemeier, said the report was a “wake-up call to the fact that, despite being a rich country, the UK is failing children… in a number of crucial ways”.
This situation cannot be attributed to children’s misbehaviour; it is rather the fault of anadult society which has come to see “youth” as a harmful social category. Misplaced nostalgia for the past has dangerous consequences.

Three lessons from history
1. Each successive historical age has ardently believed that an unprecedented “crisis” in youth behaviour is taking place. We are not unique; our fears do not differ significantly from those of our predecessors.
2. Statistics are complex things to interpret. Rising youth crime statistics since the 1940s are the result of a whole series of factors and do not mean that youth are becoming more “immoral”.
3. Our treatment of young offenders is in many ways harsher than it has been in the past. This has not been successful in reducing our fear of crime; if anything, it is compounding the problem and increasing mistrust between the generations.

Indian men lead in sexual violence, worst on gender equality: Study

Nearly one in four Indian men has committed sexual violence at some point in their lives and one in five has admittedly forced his wife or partner to have sex. The findings of a recent International Men and Gender Equality Survey reflect a new low for Indian men. Only 2% Brazilian males and less than 9% of men in Chile, Croatia, Mexico and Rwanda were found to have indulged in sexual violence. The survey was conducted in six developing countries across four continents to map attitudes and practices related to gender equality. Researchers from the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW in US and India) and Instituto Promundo in Brazil, who led the survey, interviewed more than 8,000 men and 3,500 women, aged 18 to 59, from these countries. Indians, who are known to excel in competitive examinations globally, were ranked last on the ‘gender equitable men’ scale, given that only 17% of men here qualified to the ‘highly equitable’ (gender-just) category. The percentage was the lowest for this category among the six countries. On sexual violence, 24% said they had committed some form of it in their lives. While Croatia topped the test, with 82% ‘gender-just’ men, more than 50% men in Brazil, Chile, and Mexico made the grade. Rwanda, which is among the least developed nations in the world, in fact, fared better than India, with 30% males qualifying as ‘highly equitable’. Rwanda, however, joined India with highest rate of domestic violence, with 38% men admitting they had physically abused their partners. Worse, more than 65% Indian men also believed that women should tolerate violence to keep the family together and that women sometimes deserved to be beaten. And although Indian men were the most sexually and physically violent at home, they were not involved in violent or criminal behaviour outside. Only 4% Indian men had participated in robbery and 7% had been involved in fights with weapons, compared to 36% men in Croatia and 22% men in Brazil.

The findings, released in Washington last month, reiterated that although India may be on its way to becoming the world’s fastest developing economy, it figures at the bottom of the pile when it comes to gender equality. “Indian men are far more traditional, to put it mildly. Even young, educated men are not changing as rapidly as women. They are still living in the old ages,” said Ravi Verma, director of ICRW’s Asia regional office in Delhi.
American Youth Violence: Issue and Trends
How do some people decide to commit a crime? Do they think about the benefits and the risks? Why do some people commit crimes regardless of the consequences? Why do others never commit a crime, no matter how desperate their circumstances? Criminology is the study of crime and criminals by specialists called criminologists. Criminologists study what causes crime and how it might be prevented.
Throughout history people have tried to explain what causes abnormal social behaviour, including crime. Efforts to control “bad” behavior go back to ancient Babylon’s Code of Hammurabi some 3,700 years ago. Later in the seventeenth century European colonists in North America considered crime and sin the same thing. They believed evil spirits possessed those who did not conform to social norms or follow rules. To maintain social order in the settlements, persons who exhibited antisocial behaviour had to be dealt with swiftly and often harshly.
By the twenty-first century criminologists looked to a wide range of factors to explain why a person would commit crimes. These included biological, psychological, social, and economic factors. Usually a combination of these factors is behind a person who commits a crime.
Reasons for committing a crime include greed, anger, jealously, revenge, or pride. Some people decide to commit a crime and carefully plan everything in advance to increase gain and decrease risk. These people are making choices about their behaviour; some even consider a life of crime better than a regular job—believing crime brings in greater rewards, admiration, and excitement—at least until they are caught. Others get an adrenaline rush when successfully carrying out a dangerous crime. Others commit crimes on impulse, out of rage or fear.
The desire for material gain (money or expensive belongings) leads to property crimes such as robberies, burglaries, white-collar crimes, and auto thefts. The desire for control, revenge, or power leads to violent crimes such as murders, assaults, and rapes. These violent crimes usually occur on impulse or the spur of the moment when emotions run high. Property crimes are usually planned in advance.
Parental relations: Cleckley’s ideas on sociopathy were adopted in the 1980s to describe a “cycle of violence” or pattern found in family histories. A “cycle of violence” is where people who grow up with abuse or antisocial behaviour in the home will be much more likely to mistreat their own children, who in turn will often follow the same pattern.
Children who are neglected or abused are more likely to commit crimes later in life than others. Similarly, sexual abuse in childhood often leads these victims to become sexual predators as adults. Many inmates on death row have histories of some kind of severe abuse. The neglect and abuse of children often progresses through several generations. The cycle of abuse, crime, and sociopathy keeps repeating itself. The cycle of violence concept, based on the quality of early life relationships, has its positive counterpart. Supportive and loving parents who respond to the basic needs of their child instil self-confidence and an interest in social environments. These children are generally well-adjusted in relating to others and are far less likely to commit crimes.
By the late twentieth century the general public had not accepted that criminal behaviour is a psychological disorder but rather a wilful action. The public cry for more prisons and tougher sentences outweighed rehabilitation and the treatment of criminals. Researchers in the twenty-first century, however, continued to look at psychological stress as a driving force behind some crimes.
Heredity and brain activity: Searching for the origins of antisocial personality disorders and their influence over crime led to studies of twins and adopted children in the 1980s. Identical twins have the exact same genetic makeup. Researchers found that identical twins were twice as likely to have similar criminal behaviour as fraternal twins who have similar but not identical genes, just like any two siblings. Other research indicated that adopted children had greater similarities of crime rates to their biological parents than to their adoptive parents. These studies suggested a genetic basis for some criminal behaviour.
With new advances in medical technology, the search for biological causes of criminal behaviour became more sophisticated. In 1986 psychologist Robert Hare identified a connection between certain brain activity and antisocial behaviour. He found that criminals experienced less brain reaction to dangerous situations than most people. Such a brain function, he believed, could lead to greater risk-taking in life, with some criminals not fearing punishment as much as others.
Studies related to brain activity and crime continued into the early twenty-first century. Testing with advanced instruments probed the inner workings of the brain. With techniques called computerized tomography (CT scans), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET), researchers searched for links between brain activity and a tendency to commit crime. Each of these tests can reveal brain activity.
Education: Conforming to Merton’s earlier sociological theories, a survey of inmates in state prisons in the late 1990s showed very low education levels. Many could not read or write above elementary school levels, if at all. The most common crimes committed by these inmates were robbery, burglary, automobile theft, drug trafficking, and shoplifting. Because of their poor educational backgrounds, their employment histories consisted of mostly low wage jobs with frequent periods of unemployment.
Employment at minimum wage or below living wage does not help deter criminal activity. Even with government social services, such as public housing, food stamps, and medical care, the income of a minimum wage household still falls short of providing basic needs. People must make a choice between continued long-term low income and the prospect of profitable crime. Gaining further education, of course, is another option, but classes can be expensive and time consuming. While education can provide the chance to get a better job, it does not always overcome the effects of abuse, poverty, or other limiting factors.

REFERENCES

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5. Flynn EE. Crime as a major social issue. Am Behav Sci. 1983;27:7–42.
6. Loeber R, Stathamer-Weber M. Family factors as correlates and predictors of julvenile conduct problems and delinquency. In: Morris N, Tonry M, editors. Crime and justice: An annual review of research, Vol7. Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press; 1986.
7. Pepler DJ, Slaby RG. Theoretical and development perspective on youth and violence. In: Eron LD, Gentry JH, Schleges P, editors. Reason to hope: A psychological perspective on violence and youth. Washington DC: American Psychological Association; 1994.
8. Eron LD, Huesmann LP, Zelli A. Pepler DJ, Relbin KH. The development and treatment of childhood aggression. Hillsdale NJ: Eribaum; 1991. The role of parental variables in learning of aggression.
9. Farrington DP, Hawkins JD. Predicting participation, early onset and later persistence in officially recorded offending. Crim Behav Mental Health. 1991;1:1–33.
10. Loeber R, Dishiom T. Early predictors of male delinquency: A review. Psychol Bull. 1983;94:68–99. [PubMed]

11. American Indian Relief Council. (n.d.). Reservation profiles: Pine Ridge reservation. Rapid City, SD: Author. Retrieved December 9, 2002, from http://www.airc.org/reservations/pineridge.html
12. Tiller Research, Inc. (1996). American Indian Reservations and Trust Areas. U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration. Retrieved December 10, 2002, from http://www.osec.doc.gov/eda/html/1g3_4_indianres.htm
13. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). (1995). Field initiated gang research: Finding and knowing the gang Nayee in the Navajo nation. Washington, DC: Author.
14. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). (1999). OJJDP Research: Making a difference for juveniles. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved December 10, 2002, from http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org/pubs/makingadiffer/contents.html
Reference: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/india/34756-indian-men-lead-sexual-violence-worst.html

Vulnerability and risk factors of our emerging youth

October 30, 2014, 3:52 pm

By: Dr.Athiqul H. Laskar

CIMG5062
Youth is a phase of activity and enthusiasm. It’s that period of one’s life when nothing seems impossible and all one’s dreams seem achievable; but some wrong choices made in these impressionable years of life might land a person in a distressing situation. Youth, all over the world have a few common expectations out of their lives. They need a healthy life which they can use for productive activities to fulfill their basic and other requirements. They need sustainable employment as well as a fair amount of respect in the society which would enhance their self-esteem and help them to lead a happy life. However, due to some circumstances the possibility of the safety and security of their lives might be reduced. Certain social, economic and health-related issues might hamper with their prospects of being able to lead a productive life. This chapter addresses the issue of youth vulnerability and the associated risk factors that lead to mental or physical disintegration or trauma in young people. It also intends to suggest ways and means of helping vulnerable youth in terms of addressing their emotional and social issues.

The wheel of progress has begun turning for India. We have made our mark in almost every field of human endeavor and continue to do so. It goes without saying that the youth have a tremendous role to play in our march towards progress. According to the 2001 census, There are 225 million adolescents comprising nearly one-fifth (22 percent) of the total population (Census 2001). 7.1 percent of the population is 60 years and above and approximately 51 percent of its 1.1 billion population is under 25 years and two thirds is under 35years of age. Thus, it is important to study the contribution this 22 percent makes to the overall development of India. Youth being the most energetic phase of one’s life is highly responsible for psychological and physical development. An individual’s personality blossoms more noticeably during this time. Collectively, youth are an enthusiastic lot and are usually open to new ideas and innovations. They seek change from the rut of traditions (generally speaking). They try to use their physical abilities to the maximum in the attainment of their goals and are generally open to hard work. However, youth can also be found to be a phase of high stress, frustration and pressure to fulfill expectations for some young people. They might slip into self-deprecating behaviours to fill voids in their life. Some of these behaviours include smoking, alcohol consumption, underage and unprotected sexual behaviour that in turn leads to HIV and other STDs, delinquency etc. What is it that differentiates these youngsters from others who seem to lead happy and productive lives? One might guess that economic backgrounds might influence the level of risk for youngsters. This means youth from poorer backgrounds are more exposed to risk of such behaviour. This inference might also be true in some cases, but cannot be generalized because we see instances of drug abuse, violence, inappropriate sexual behaviour etc in youngsters belonging to the poor, middle as well as the higher classes of people. So what is that one single factor that leaves people vulnerable to risks? Is it an inherent personality trait or a result of an individual’s interaction (or a lack thereof?) with the society? This question sparks off the long-standing ‘Nature v/s Nurture’ debate once again, for to understand one’s vulnerability to certain risky behaviours, one must first understand why people choose to indulge in them. Only then can we find effective and sustainable measures to curb youth vulnerability.
Alcohol Consumption and Smoking
According to Dr. M. Soyka, of the population variance for alcoholism, 50-60% vulnerability may be explained by genes (Soyka, 2002). This shows that there is a direct relation between parental alcohol consumption and the development of alcoholism in young adults. However, how much of it is due to genes and how much really is due to the desire to imitate and be accepted is a topic of debate. Drinking among adolescents has shown an increasing trend in the past few years. A luxurious life and extra money to spend facilitates alcohol consumption among the urban higher class youth. Teens in college are also influenced by movies where magnificent heroic characters are projected as consuming alcohol. The impressionable minds immediately associate the act of drinking with being ‘cool’. If a student refuses to drink he/ she might not fit into his peer group most of whom would be alcohol consumers. So to avoid falling out with his group he/ she may start drinking. Initially it starts with a seemingly innocent act of ‘giving company’ to friends. Soon it starts as a regular weekend activity and then follows on to become an addiction. During adolescence, the mind and body are still in a developing state. Alcohol consumption in this stage, interferes with normal development and sows the seeds for health complications in future life for e.g. Liver cirrhosis, cancer etc. Similar is the case with smoking. Once a person gets addicted to smoking cigarettes, it becomes very difficult to quit. Even if one wants to quit, the strong withdrawal symptoms might force one to go back to smoking. Heavy drinking and smoking might look ‘cool’ when amongst friends. As soon as young adults enter work life, they start seeing the side-effects. They find themselves less energetic and enthusiastic. They also discover that their stress-handling capacity has reduced and they are easily prone to frustration. They have reduced vigour, stamina and energy. Increased alcohol consumption and smoking also leads to serious health complications which start in the form of shaky hands, palpitations etc and later on assume serious proportions in the form of lung or liver cancer. Even if the person does not end up with cancer, he certainly has serious emotional and psychological side-effects. A person under the influence of alcohol loses his/her critical thinking ability and decision making powers. Things become worse when people drive vehicles under the influence of alcohol. Take the case of Alistair Pareira, a 21 year old youngster who killed seven people in a drunken driving spree, or the more recent case of Nooria Haveliwala, a 27 year stylist who, drunk way beyond limit, ran over a policeman and a biker (ironically the constable was conducting a breath analyzer test on the biker at the time of the accident). These cases show youngsters in a poor light. These children mostly belong to ultra-rich families so they know that getting out on bail and suppressing court cases are not difficult. Such callous attitude amongst the rich class young ‘brats’ makes us think as to whose fault was it anyway. Is it the fault of the youngsters who have taken their freedom to drink for granted? Or is it really the parents’ fault that they did not monitor their children’s activity well enough to realize that their children have taken to the road under the influence of alcohol.
HIV/AIDS and STIs
“The World Health Organization estimates that 10.3 million youth aged 15 to 24 years are living with HIV/AIDS (most without knowing they are infected) and half of all new infections are occurring among young people on a global basis.” (National Institute of Child and Human Development, 2006) These statistics are an eye-opener us. They present the picture of the AIDS pandemic on a global level and the high numbers of occurrences among the young population. Equally alarming are the statistics for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). “Each year, about four million people younger than 20 years old are diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including herpes, human Papilomavirus (HPV), Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).” (Natural Standard Reasearch collaboration, 2008). These are global statistics. Our national statistics are not very encouraging as well. According to the NACO (National AIDS Control Organization), in 2007 almost 2.3 million people among the Indian population were living with AIDS. These individuals, in all probability, pass on the infections to their children. “India is home to the largest number of AIDS orphans in the world.” (Sen, 2005) . When the parents of these children succumb to the disease, these kids are left destitute. They often drop out of school due lack of funds and are forced to beg on the streets. According to a case study conducted by the World Bank, in India, in a small city like Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, over 30,000 AIDS orphans were estimated to live. The World Bank further estimated the number of AIDS orphans in India to be almost 2 million (Sen, 2005). What happens with the lives of these children is unimaginable. They are vulnerable to a number of hardships including social ostracism, malnutrition and poverty. Society does not care for such out-caste children. The major reason for such callousness is ignorance. Not all people contract AIDS through Sexual transmission. Some of them contract it through drug usage (injecting with infected needles); some through blood transfusion etc. However society, as in most cases, plays moral police against AIDS orphans and stamps them as sinners, children of prostitutes etc. Most of these children do not have access to even basic needs like food and shelter so the higher facilities like education are out of question.
AIDS is an issue of enormous proportions for any country, more so for the young population because it nibbles at the productive capability of youth. It is imperative to spread more and more awareness about the disease and its prevention. Due to media support and governmental initiatives like NACO, a substantial control has been achieved over the past few years. However, much is needed to be done. First of all, the attitudes of people must undergo a paradigm-shift. This is the most difficult thing because attitudes are deep-rooted in the moral fabric of the society. Moralistic thinking should be discouraged and replaced by a more humanistic attitude. Discussing sex is taboo in most households and this is the root of most problems. In the adolescent phase, individuals go through noticeable physical and emotional change. They develop friendship with the opposite sex at places of study and other social settings. This age is also characterized with curiosity about sex. Children cannot discuss sexual facts at home, which add to the confusion. This is accompanied by peer pressure because a person without a girl-friend or a boyfriend is considered ‘uncool’. Sometimes the mob mentality is at work when a youngster says, ‘I must lose my virginity, because all my friends have done so.’ Hence, Youngsters enter into intimate relationships at a very young age. They start experimenting with sex at an age when they should be involved in studies, sports and developmental activities. If they do not find a willing partner, they resort to paying visits to brothels and roadside prostitutes. They do so without proper knowledge of contraception and thus expose themselves to various STDs including HIV. Youngsters living with AIDS have a tough time facing the world. Although it is illegal, many employers eliminate candidates with HIV in the pre-employment screening without giving proper justification, thus denying HIV patients the right to live a normal life. No one seems to recognize the fact that until HIV develops into full-blown AIDS, the person can lead a healthy life, of course with the help of some basic medication and exercise.
India has a characteristically patriarchal system where women have a low social status (in most parts, at least). Men usually dominate the households and take most of the decisions including those related to sex. So it is men who decide whether they should use condoms or not. The social structure is partial to men, because the society does not think much of men with relationships outside marriage; but the same is not true of women. Many men use this to their advantage and have more than one sexual partner at a time. This again gives rise to the spread of HIV. Women in many rural parts of India are married at an early age, often before the legal age of 18 years. Hence these young women are at a higher risk for contracting HIV from their husbands because they have no say in anything and cannot say no to sex even if they know about their husband’s relationships with other women. Such women are then ostracized by the society for no fault of their own. The children of these women carry the infection. Although, today medication is available for preventing mother to child HIV infection, it is possible to prevent infection only if the mother knows about her HIV status and has knowledge about the availability of such medication. Even if she has the knowledge, she might not prefer to take medical help for fear of revealing her HIV positive status to the society. There is a lot of ignorance and fear and not ample opportunities for education and awareness. All this contributes to a growth in adolescent AIDS cases. Attitude changes throughout the society will, of course, take time. However the pains are worth taking because the young generation is the future of our country and we cannot leave our future to decay because of avoidable diseases like HIV.
Drug Abuse
Substance abuse has a long history in India. In ancient times, many women were known to administer low doses of Opium to their children to ensure a good night of sleep. Alcohol and tobacco are consumed in India by adults as well as children. Many a times parents introduce their children to tobacco and alcohol. These are usually children of families living on the streets and in slum areas. The lack of medical coverage in such areas makes it impossible to determine how many youngsters really are falling preys to the drug menace every year. NGO ‘Prayas’ recently conducted a survey across 13 states in association with Ministry of Women and Child Development and other organizations. They found out that “32.1% children, below the age of 18, have tasted alcohol, bhang, ganja, heroin or other form of narcotics. It reveals also that 70.3% of those kids have been first exposed to one or the other form of drugs by their friends and relatives, 11.7% by their parents.” Another set of data reveals that “among those involved in drug and substance abuse in India, 13.1 per cent are below 20 years.” What is unbelievable is 20 million children are estimated to be getting addicted to smoking every year”. (Natural Standard Reasearch collaboration, 2008). As most drug users are in the age group of 18-35 years, the loss in terms of human potential is extremely enormous. These are extremely disturbing statistics for a developing country like India.
What is it that pushes youngsters to try drugs? The answer to this question can be many and varied. Consumption of drugs like Ecstasy, LSD, Heroin and Cocaine produces symptoms like light-headedness, hallucinations, visionary delusions and sometimes even sheer bliss. This state of mindlessness is very addictive. People tend to forget their worries and tensions momentarily. Thus people with emotional issues are prone to turn to drugs. Drug abuse can be found in all strata of the society but the exposure level to crude drugs is definitely high for the lower class. In the higher classes, doing drugs is a status symbol. Take for e.g. the case of the famous Bombay 72 Degree East Pub that was raided in 2008. According to police reports, there were drug peddlers present at the party and youngsters were buying drugs from them. 240 people were detained and drugs worth more than 9 lakh rupees were seized. Rave parties are well-known hubs of alcohol, drugs and sometimes even sex. Usually children of movie stars, industrialists, IT professionals and high level corporate executives visit these parties. Many models, air-hostesses, call centre executives also frequent such parties. These youngsters usually are looking to fulfill the peer group expectations, or just looking for thrill. They know that their influential parents can pull them out of any legal situation. Often they belong to disintegrated families and have had unhappy childhood with one or both of the parents not providing love and support to them. When they grow up they defy their parents by indulging in illegal activities like drugs. Such youngsters are victims of well-established network of criminals and drug peddlers. Some drug peddlers work in a clandestine manner. They wait outside college campuses and befriend unsuspecting students. They then slowly introduce them to drugs, free of charge initially and when the students get addicted ask them to earn their share of drugs by introducing others to the network. Such groups are difficult to trace because of lack of evidence.
In absolute contrast is the situation of the lower class of the population. They usually have access to cheap drugs through roadside drug vendors. They try to relieve the stress of their manual labour by doing drugs. Many children from poor families are dejected when they cannot afford the education they desire. In order to compensate for their shattered dreams they tend to find temporary solace in drugs. One often sees skinny, unkempt teenagers on railway platform passing cigarettes and often injections to one other, during the wee hours. These teenagers have often been through a troubled past which might include unemployment, failure in love or even low grades in college. Drug peddlers exploit these weaknesses of youngsters and convince them that drugs can give them a perpetual state of happiness and ecstasy (one of the drugs is brazenly named ‘ecstasy’). What these youngsters don’t realize is that this addiction makes them so vulnerable that in order to fulfill their craving for the drug, they might also commit a crime if asked to do so by the drug peddler. Under the influence of drugs, a person might engage in wanton sexual activities as he/she no longer control on his/her thoughts and emotions. Rehabilitating the drug addict is a long and tedious task and often the addict feels so miserable that he/she might even commit suicide. Drug abuse affects the chemical balance of our body and hence a person might go the extremes of any feeling-sad or happy. The feeling of dependence on drugs lowers the self-esteem of the person and leaves the youngster susceptible to depression. In fact suicide due to depression caused by drug abuse is one of the leading causes for youth suicide. A study was conducted by scientists at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This study covered as many as 18,924 teenage students from 132 schools in the USA. They found that teens who had not initiated sex or drug abuse had the lowest levels of depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts. (Hallfors, 2004). Thus, as we see, the strong connection between drugs and suicide cannot be ignored. The government must take adequate measures to ward off the drug menace. It is very important to take strict action against the drug peddlers and the anti-social elements that are involved in selling this slow poison to the youth.
Gender Norms and Identity Issues
Any discussions about the prevention of AIDS would be incomplete without the detailed analysis of gender norms and expectations. “In India, of the estimated 2.5 million adults living with HIV and AIDS, women account for 39.3 percent or 1 million of these infections.” (Vaishali Mahendra, 2009) These are huge numbers, no doubt and hence it is important to investigate the reason behind it. Women in many parts of India grow up under the highly patriarchal arrangement of the joint family system. They are expected to follow a life of complete obedience. So, before their marriage, they have to obey their fathers, after marriage their husbands and in old age their sons. Hence a woman who tries to assert her right to a say in anything comes across as ‘uncultured’ and ‘unsuitable’. She is expected to be meek and docile. Men have also gone to the extent of deifying woman when they say that an ideal woman should be an image of goddess Lakshmi. She should try and keep the family members happy and should be ready to go to any extent to achieve this goal. She should be coy while speaking to male members in the family and not respond to sexual advances of men. If she smiles or responds with words and encourages sexual advances of a man, she must be lewd and thus deserves to be raped. This leaves many women vulnerable to domestic violence and coerced sex and thus increasing the likelihood of the spread of HIV. Women must endeavour to step out of years of coyness forced upon them and learn to raise their voices. They must break the shackles of gender-based expectations that bind them and force them to adhere to gender expectations.
Expectations that a person of a certain gender should behave in a certain manner are basically the root cause of gender identity issues. What is a gender identity? If a person who is born as a man but does not identify with being a man, then he cannot be said to have the gender identity of a man. He might be a man physically but he has the emotions and the psyche of a woman. They are called ‘Transgender’ or ‘transsexual’ persons. In colloquial language they are called ‘gay’ or ’lesbians’. There are some individuals who are born with both male and female characteristics and organs. They cannot be classified as either male or female. They are called ‘intersex’ individuals. In India they are called ‘Hijras’ or the Eunuchs. Historically, such individuals have found mention in many religious and political works. The ‘Hijras’ are known to have supernatural powers. It is believed that if they bless a person, the blessings come true. This is why eunuchs are specially invited in weddings and religious occasions to shower blessings. However, the eunuchs are the most marginalized community in India. Most of them survive on prostitution as blessings can hardly earn them a survival. Society does not allow them to take up jobs in the organized sector. They are highly vulnerable to sexual harassment by other men as well as the police. It is difficult to estimate the exact number of eunuchs in India; however they range between half a million to a million in population. In Tamil Nadu alone there are an estimated 150000 eunuchs (Maguire, 2005). These eunuchs face an extreme level of social ostracism. If a eunuch is born in a family they hand the child over to the ‘Hijra community’ out of fear of ridicule by the society. Not all of them are born eunuchs though. Many of them are castrated as children and then brought into their community, which is plain defiance of human rights. Even if a child is born as a eunuch, the society does not have any right to hand that child over to a group where begging and destitution will become its destiny.
Sexual deviance in transgender men and women is more discreet. Due to fear of social discrimination and ridicule, sometimes gay men remain in their ‘closet’. Many of them even marry women and have children but psychologically, they don’t identify themselves as men and often have clandestine relationships with other men. This again encourages risky sexual behaviour. The fear of revealing their sexual identity to others does not allow them to have stable relationships even with their men partners as well and many a times they end up having multiple relationships, thus increasing the risk of HIV. When such men come out in the open about their sexual orientation they face a lot of flak. The society treats such people with disgust and their parents force them to become ‘straight’ through counseling and hormonal therapy. Many transgender men undergo the procedure of castration to avoid the helplessness they undergo as gay men. They feel that as eunuchs they will at least be under the protection and support of their groups.
These marginalized people need a chance in life. This can happen only through education. They must be educated so they can fight for their rights and learn skills that can help them earn a living. Unless and until they come out of the life of beggary and prostitution, they cannot earn respect in the society. Many educated eunuchs have now started educating their fellow community members. They have succeeded in winning elections and taking up professions otherwise excluded to them, for e.g. Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi, an Indian Eunuch who runs the NGO Astitva. She is the only eunuch in the UN’s Civil Society Task Force on HIV/AIDS. (Madhava, 2008) Eunuchs have the least prestige in the society, nil protection from the police and absolutely no safety when it comes to protection from being sexually harassed. Organizations like Astitva will go a long way in giving these marginalized children of God, some space and right to assert their own existence.
Disabilities
Youth, being the extremely productive workforce of the nation, contribute the most to development. However, there is a section whose productivity decreases or stops due to certain physical or mental restraints. These restraints come in the form of physical or mental disabilities that check the extent to which a person can use his/her abilities. It has been estimated that in India, 40 to 80 million people are disabled and a significant 5 to 5.5 million people with disabilities are in the age group of 12-24. (World Bank, 2010) A UNICEF report states that adolescents and youth with disabilities are among the neediest and most overlooked of all the world’s children”. (UNICEF, 1999, p.1) Thus it becomes imperative to address their specific concerns as they belong to the most productive category and yet are forced by nature or accident to curb their faculties and live a life of dependency.
It is essential to understand the extent to which a disabled person in India is able to align himself with the rest of the society. According to a case study conducted by Nidhi Singhal, government programmes for youth development often ignore youth with disabilities. This apathy by the government is further added to by social stigma that youth with disability face. (Singhal, 2008). Youngsters with disabilities are often treated as out-castes during their entire span of education. The SSA (Sarva Shikshan Abhiyaan) by the government of India has certainly given the disabled children a better chance of participating in the educational process at par with other students. However, to study in the same school with other normal children takes a great deal of patience and perseverance on the part of a disabled child. Hence, children with disabilities are 5 times more likely to be out of school than average. (World Bank, 2010) When these children grow up and join the work force they are either made fun of or given extremely special treatment which hampers their attempt to mingle with other people as one of them. Thus, both types of discrimination are unwanted. Moreover, since they are less likely to complete higher education, their chances of earning a substantial level of income dwindles, pushing them further into poverty.
There are many factors that hinder the social alignment of disabled youth. For e.g. A disabled person may not receive the education that his/her peers might receive. In spite of SSA, there are many schools that deny admission to disabled children. Even parents of disabled youth sometimes prefer to keep them at home to avoid societal sympathy or ridicule or both. Thus discrimination starts early in on disabled youth. Disabled youth belonging to the economically backward classes are at a double disadvantage because his/her family might not be able to afford the medication, equipment etc. involved in the treatment. For e.g. an economically backward family cannot afford to buy artificial limbs for their young son, who has lost his arms in an accident. This further aggravates the problem as the disabled person might feel more alienated from the society and withdraw from it. When the disabled individuals withdraw from society they tend to internalize and blame themselves for their disability. They attribute their disability to their past sins and thus develop low self-esteem. They indulge in blaming everyone from fate to God and their own parents and thus ignore the most important part of dealing with disability, i.e. maintaining a positive attitude.
Society has a major role in making disabled youth feel at home in the ‘normal’ world. They corporate sector must come forward and take initiative in employing disabled youth. Sustainable and respectable employment can go a long way in restoring dignity to them. However dismal improvement has been noticed in this arena since quite a few years. “employment of people with disability actually fell from 43% in 1991 to 38% in 2002, despite the country’s economic growth. In the public sector, despite a 3% reservation since 2003, only 10% of posts have been identified as “suitable”. The quota policy also covers just three types of disability – locomotor, hearing and visual.” Even in the private sector, employment of disabled youth in large firms was as low as 0.5 percent of their total workforce. (World Bank, 2010). What happens to youth with learning and other disabilities is a topic of debate. Government programmes have always ignored the youth with mental retardation in formulating their policies. It is only very recently that the government has recognized Dyslexia as a mental disorder and included it as a disability.
It is high time the government intervenes and builds social security for disabled youths. It has been found that disabled individuals are more enthusiastic to work provided they are given enough encouragement and support. After all, they want to prove that they can work as equally well as anyone else.
Poverty, illiteracy and unemployment
Poverty is the key reason for many youth related problems. Youth from impoverished homes have very limited access to basic facilities like nutrition, education, health and sanitation and clean habitation. In the absence of these facilities, youth from economically backward families are definitely at a disadvantage as compared to others. With limited economic resources, most of these youth drop-out from school at a young age. This further snowballs into less employment opportunities in the organized sector. This vicious circle is a never ending one. Thus, as we see the economically poor have very less chance of upward social mobility. On the other hand youth from middle class or the rich class gain access to education and further climb up the social ladder. They tend to look at poor people as a social menace. In this way, the gap between the rich and the poor widens. The rich become richer while the poor become poorer.
“According to the World Bank’s estimates on poverty based on 2005 data, India has more than 456 million people, 41.6% of its population, living below the International poverty line of $1.25 a day! The World bank further estimates that 33% of the global poor now reside in India.” (anonlineindia.com). On one hand we talk of globalization and progress and on the other hand we are witness to the fact that this progress has not reached the lower strata of the society. Economic disparity continues to plague our nation despite attempts made by the government to eradicate poverty. Poor and unemployed youth are at a higher risk for substance abuse and criminal activities like theft, drug peddling, trafficking etc. Government must make attempts to organize under-privileged youth and provide life-skills training to them. They should be taught technical skills that can help them find jobs. Thus only through education can one attempt to lessen the economic divisions among various classes of youth. Marginalized youth if not provided with support systems have the capability of bringing about a rebellion in the society. Suppressed youth power can go to any extent to derive freedom. History has seen innumerable youth revolutions in the past. Long term repression can lead to eruption. Terrorist and extremist groups are always on the lookout for fresh young blood to further their motives. They misuse the economic vulnerability of youngsters to enroll them in their destructive missions. For e.g. the terrorist Ajmal Kasab who haphazardly gunned down innocent people in Mumbai, is a young boy from a poor family and was lured into the outfit with the promise of attractive monetary compensation for his family.
Comparison with American youth
It seems that youth all over the world are more or less equally vulnerable to the vices and social injustices. This can be illustrated with the example of America. America is supposed to one of the richest nations in the world. However, the youth in America share the same vulnerabilities with us. For e.g. Alcohol abuse is one of the biggest concerns for the Americans as well. “According to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, there are 105,000 alcohol related deaths annually due to drunken drivers and alcohol related injuries and diseases.” (alcoholicsvictorious.org). According to a study in Karnataka, India, the annual costs related to alcohol including health care, absenteeism and reduced income levels were 60% more than revenue generated by alcohol. (addictionindia.org) Similar are the statistics for America. The total cost of alcohol use in America was $15 billion in 1983. “It is estimated that 375,000 babies born each year are exposed to one or more illicit drugs prenatally.” (alcoholicsvictorious.org). HIV/AIDS is as big a threat to America as to any other nation. “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than one million people are living with HIV in the United States. One in five (21%) of those people living with HIV is unaware of their infection.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). Initially, even in a ‘progressive’ country like America, homosexuals were labeled as ‘sexual deviants’. However America has taken substantial measures towards banning discrimination against homosexuals. Homosexuals are now largely accepted in the American society as compared to India. Disability is mostly regarded as a curse in the largely ‘Karma’ oriented Indian society. In America as well, the disabled youth experience difficulties in employment and other walks of life. However, the government has implemented the Social Security and Supplemental Income disability programs which are the largest of many other programs that provide security to disabled people. Such programmes need to be launched in India as population-wise India has a much higher number of disabled people compared to America. With regards to poverty, America has seen a rising pattern in the past few years. The US Census Bureau’s research illustrates the upward trend in poverty. The number of poor people has increased from 37.3 million in 2007 to 39.8 million in 2008 and further to 43.6 million in 2009. (U.S. Census Bureau). These statistics can be compared with Indian statistics where, in 2000 27.5 percent of the population was below the poverty line as compared to the statistics in 2010, the number has now shot up to 32.7 percent. This could also be due to earlier miscalculations as it is very difficult to arrive at definite statistics in a country as vast as India. Nevertheless, it is a fact that poverty statistics in both India and USA are way below the actual poverty. Extreme poverty curbs the capability of youth to avail of education and other services. The Government has launched various schemes in the past to tackle with poverty and the other debilitating factors that cripple the youth. However successful implementation takes a back seat when it comes to actual field work. Out of the money allocated for the government schemes, much goes into the pockets of politicians and other middle-men. What remains is a pittance and is ssnot capable of ensuring success of the schemes. It is time now to seriously evaluate our position as far as the youth are concerned. These different vulnerabilities of the youth are the road-blocks to our nation’s path to glory. We must free the youth from these shackles that bind them so that they can build the ‘Incredible India’ of our dreams in reality
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Poverty, Unemployment, Underdevelopment and Identity Crisis of emerging youth

October 30, 2014, 3:49 pm

By: Dr.Athiqul H. Laskarimg01

India, unified in its diversity, is on the track to becoming one of the super-powers in the world. However, amidst a superb growth story, lies a most overlooked fact– a vast majority of the Indian population still lives below the poverty line. Unemployment and under-employment accentuates poverty. Stuck in the vicious circle of poverty, under-development and unemployment, it is difficult for the Indian youth today to carve out a unique identity for themselves. Further poverty or prosperity is never equally distributed, leaving a wide social and cultural gap between the ‘Haves’ and the ‘Have-nots’ in the society. From this inequality, is born a feeling of unjustness and thus begins the identity crisis of the youth that leads them into substance abuse, violence, and organized crime. This paper examines the extent of poverty, unemployment, under-employment and under-development in India and its effects on the psyche of the Indian youth.

INTRODUCTION

When India achieved her political freedom from the British in 1947, it was a nation struggling under the double pressures of supporting a nation full of poverty-stricken people and its ambition to embark on a mission to place itself on the global pedestal. On one hand, growth and development of agriculture and the peasantry demanded strict and urgent attention and on the other hand India had to cope with the added strain of political friction with newly formed neighboring countries. Naturally, the government had an uphill task to perform. Let us first look at the various development initiatives undertaken so far. India was and till today is a majorly agrarian economy. It’s only recently that we have seen this immense boom in the IT/services sector. Way back in 1947, the new- born country was neck-deep in an economic crisis and urgent measures were the need of the day. The first Indian Prime-Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru foresaw this need and introduced the first-five year plan to the parliament of India on 8th December 1951. The planning commission operated with an emphasis on rural poverty alleviation and the total planned budget of 206.8 billion INR (23.6 Billion USD in 1950 exchange rate) was allocated to seven broad areas : irrigation and energy (27.2 percent), agriculture and community development (17.4 percent), transport and communications (24 percent), industry (8.4 percent), social services (16.64 percent), land rehabilitation (4.1 percent), and for other sectors and services (2.5 percent) (wikipedia, 2010). This approach helped India to successfully launch the ‘Green Revolution’ and the ‘White revolution’. With such a firm support for the agrarian sector, it was expected to boom and it did for quite some time. India could become self-sufficient as far as agricultural produce was considered.

POVERTY

In spite of efforts and initiatives from the government why is it that, we hear of so many farmer suicides today? Why is it that a majority of the poor are concentrated in the villages where agriculture is the main source of employment? Why is it that India still has the highest number of poor people in the world? The answer is simple. It’s not enough to just launch programmes. Enough steps need to be taken to ensure the effective implementation of them as well. The poor farmers who face lack of funds for buying simple agricultural tools and raw-materials take loans from money-lenders, who in turn take advantage of the farmers’ illiteracy and dupe them by charging heavy interests. Since it is an informal lending system, many a times the farmers lose their lands and have to work as landless laborers for petty daily wages or even just a handful of grains per day, thus placing them automatically in the poor category living a hand-to-mouth existence. Thus the one who produces food himself has immense difficulty feeding himself and his family. “National Crime Records Bureau statistics say close to 200,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997.” (Bagchi, 2009). Certainly, the food basket of India is in danger A few steps like the ‘Kisan Credit Card’ and the ‘NABARD’ (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) loan schemes, though instrumental, have taken care only of the tip of the rural ice-berg. A large-scale educational programme on grass-root levels needs to be applied to educate the farmers of the hazards of traditional money lending systems and the advantages of co-operative government banking. While a majority of the poor farmers cannot avail of government subsidies due to ignorance and corruption of the officials, there exists a sect of farmers who are already earning well. They take advantage of the subsidies meant for poor farmers and become richer. They also many a times use their ‘farmer’ status to evade tax. (Agricultural income is non-taxable- one of many the government policies that are meant for the poor but used by the rich). A majority of the poor in India live in the villages. This does not imply that cities do not have poor people at all. In fact, many poor people from the villages go to the cities in search of employment. Having seen nothing apart from their simple agricultural lives, these village-folk, often are at a loss of understanding of the city-life and hence find it difficult to obtain employment. As a result, there is large-scale increase in the number of slum and pavement dwellers. These people do not get even the basic necessities of life like clean drinking water and sanitation facilities.
Poverty has always been a cause of concern for us. It is a very subjective term and can assume different contexts when we talk about different countries. Hence to understand the term in a relative context, the term ‘Basic Poverty Line’ came to be used. Basically it is a border that refers to the minimum level of income needed to achieve an adequate standard of living in a given country. The international poverty line for poor countries has traditionally been $ 1 a day, i.e. if a person does not earn a dollar a day then he can be categorized as existing below the poverty line. Recently, this has been revised to $ 1.25 keeping in mind the 2005 purchasing power parity. (Martin Ravallion, 2009). So according to these guidelines, with today’s dollar to rupee rate of 46.825, the minimum income required to be above the poverty line is around Rs. 59 a day. How utterly impossible it seems to survive in India on a Rs. 59 a day income! The planning commission of India prepares the estimates for the poverty-line on a yearly basis. In the year 1999-2000, it arrived at the estimate of Rs. 327.56 for the rural population and Rs. 454.11 for the urban population (Saxena, 2001). So basically, in 2000, if a person in a city would have earned Rs. 455 a month he wouldn’t have been considered poor. The question is- in 455 rupees can a person afford decent food, clothing and shelter for a month? Certainly not! Then how can that person not be considered poor? As it appears the statistics presented by the planning commission are based on the minimum amount required to buy a certain number of calories of food. i.e. 2400 cal/day for the rural areas and 2100 cal/day for the urban area. But what about the other requirements like clothing, shelter, education, etc. Are these basic necessities not important for poor? While the planning commission reports are designed to show reduction in poverty levels the international World Bank estimates have a different story to tell. “According to the World Bank’s estimates on poverty based on 2005 data, India has more than 456 million people, 41.6% of its population, living below the International poverty line of $1.25 a day! The World bank further estimates that 33% of the global poor now reside in India.” (anonlineindia.com) Extreme poverty forces people to live an ‘earn today-spend today’ lifestyle. Children are forced to earn to suffice the needs of the families and thus they are denied the opportunity for education. The 2001 Census estimates that almost 12.6 million children are engaged in hazardous occupations and India has the largest number of child labourers under age 14 in the world. Internationally there are lots of efforts to eradicate child labor. For e.g. “ILO Convention (1999) No.182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor is aimed at the elimination of the worst forms of child labor and calls for immediate withdrawal of child victims of such forms and support to help them rebuild their lives free of exploitation. The ILO Minimum Age Convention (1973) No.138 further aims to ensure that no child below the national legal age for work should be in child labor.” (Unicef, 2005). However these measures haven’t trickled down to the grassroots levels. In India, it is a common sight to see children working as tea-stall waiters, boot-polishers at stations, and news-paper sellers. When it comes to ground realities, the measures taken by the government are just lip-sympathizing ventures with very little practical outcome.

UNDERDEVELOPMENT

“In the Human Development Index (HDI), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Statistical Update 2008 ranks India at 132 out of the 179 countries. At 116 out of the 157, India also ranks poorly in the Gender Development Index. While India falls under the “Medium Human Development” category, all the developed countries are bracketed under the “High Human Development” category. HDI is based on purchasing power parity, life expectancy at birth, and education levels.” (IBN Live, 2009). Development becomes a distant goal when problems like unemployment and poverty mar our nation. In spite of an impressive growth story and a GDP averaging 7%, we are still considered a ‘Third World Country’. Our ‘IT hub of the world’ Status should not divert our attention from the innumerable nagging problems of our country. Basic nutrition for children is still at a remarkably low level. According to the UNICEF surveys of 2003-2008, about 48 % of children under the age of five are moderately or severely underweight. Approximately 28 % of children born are extremely low-weight at birth. (Unicef, 2010). If these many future citizens in the country are poorly developed physically, the future looks bleak for us. The government has many schemes in place for improving child nutrition. The ‘aanganvaadi’ system in the rural parts of India is a major success. All government run schools provide the ‘mid-day meal’ to children. This has surely been instrumental in increasing the number of school enrollments and attendance. No doubt, the government has done its bit by introducing such schemes. However, wide-spread corruption has rendered them meaningless. In many villages, the grant sent by the government is looted mid-way by greedy officials who shamelessly dive into the funds sent for the mid-day meal schemes meant for the school children. Many a times the Village Panchayat members are involved in such pilferage. Literally, there are ‘no free lunches’ Moreover, one cannot guarantee if the food has been prepared hygienically. It is extremely important that the government encourage accountability and transparency at the grass-root level. Otherwise, these developmental measures will remain half-baked attempts with very little achievements.
Child-nutrition in India is a very sensitive issue. ‘Mid-day meal Programme’ does cater to the school going children. But what about the children out of school? The basic statistics of hunger-related death cannot be measured because there is no system to measure the poor living on the streets. No one knows how many poor children might be dying every day on the streets of ‘Modern India’ due to hunger and professional hazards like begging near the signals. Even when it comes to affluent households, one may find large-scale discrimination in the distribution of food. Gender plays an important role here. In India, women are generally treated as inferior to men. This may not be the case amongst urban educated population. However amongst the rural people it is normal to think of a male child as superior to a female one. No one questions why the women or girl children in the family eat after all the male members have eaten. It’s considered ok if the women or the girls get little or left-over food but the men in the house must be properly fed. It is shocking to note that India is the only country among the major nations of the world where the ratio of women to men is consistently low. In spite of the fact that pre-natal sex detection and female feticides are illegal, they are still practiced in rural areas. Even in the cities, some people still carry forward this mentality of male superiority. The roots of this problem can be found in superstitions arising out of poverty and the social traditions of dowry. The male child brings home a wife as well as a hefty dowry along with her. A girl child however takes away dowry from her parents’ house when she gets married. Societal pressures force parents of girls to give dowry and thus the birth of a girl child is considered a misfortune. The Christian Medical Association of India conducted a case study among children between the age groups 0-6 years, in certain government and the private hospitals in New Delhi. (TOI, 2005) They concluded that when the first male child is born there is no discrimination against the next child irrespective of its gender. However, when the first child is a girl, the second female birth is discriminated against for want of a male child. According to the WHO statistics of 2002, in India, the probability of children dying under the age of 5 was 87 per thousand for male children and 95 per thousand for female children. One need not be a rocket-scientist to understand the meaning of these statistics. These stark realities are shameful on the part of a country claiming its place in the soon-to-be ‘First World’ powers.
Education is one of the basic necessities of civilized human life. If we want to see ourselves anywhere equal to the developed countries, we must ensure that the masses have access to quality education. UNICEF statistics uncover some shocking truths. “India-the second most populous country in the world-has the highest absolute number of out-of-school children. According to the MICS 2000 survey, almost 27 million school-age children in India do not attend school, or one out of four. India alone accounts for 23% of the global total.” (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, www.childinfo.org). Such wide-spread lack of basic educational facilities is a major road block in the developmental process. India boasts of a breath-takingly fast developing economy. We pride ourselves on the fact that while global recession rocked the world stock markets, the Indian markets just dipped a little and soared again with renewed vigour. We talk about strong economic fundamentals. What kind of fundamentals can we boast of when we have such high levels of illiteracy and ignorance rampant in our country? It is however a relief to see that the Indian government has woken up to this clarion call. On the 1st of April 2010, the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh launched a programme to extend schooling to about 10 million children who are outside the education system. He has pledged not to let financial constraints get in the way of its implementation which is estimated to cost around $38 billion. (Alzajeera.net, 2010). Initiatives like these will go a long way in promoting youth development.

UNEMPLOYMENT

Poverty and unemployment go hand in hand. Unemployment broadly refers to a state where a person is unable to find sufficient income-generating means in spite of having the physical ability and mental willingness to do so. The NSSO has defined ‘work’ or ‘gainful’ activity as the activity pursued for pay, profit or family gain or in other words, the activity which adds value to the national product. While complete unemployment means no job at all, under-employment means, lack of insufficient work that is barely enough to make ends meet. The Government of India has certainly taken up a lot of measures to combat the menace of unemployment. For e.g. the Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) Scheme for Educated Unemployed Youth. This scheme has been designed to create employment for over a million people by the setting up of 7 lakh micro enterprises by the educated unemployed. Special focus was given by the government for the employment of the rural youth. The IRDP or the Integrated Rural Development Programme was meant to help farmers and the rural artisans below the poverty line to learn advanced skills necessary for converting their skills into income. The TRYSEM (Training of Rural youth for self-employment) was launched in 1979. Its major aim was to empower the rural youth by giving them technical training so that they could be self-employed along with the payment of a stipend during training. However in 1999, IRDP, TRYSEM and other such programmes were combined into one holistic programme known as Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana wherein 10% of the financial allocation is set up for the training of the ‘Swarozgaris’. However, what is worth studying is the actual amount that is utilized. Research has time and again demonstrated that in many such government schemes, the allocated money is either lost the maze of corruption or lies unused until the government decides to launch another scheme after the failure of the previous one.

The issue of unorganized nature of work creating insecurity among the workers is not new. The poor income groups cannot afford higher education for their children and thus their chances of employment in the organized sector are scarce. The unorganized or the ‘casual’ sector of work is highly exploitative and the workers in such industries work for low wages and many times in sub-human working conditions. Indian farmers, who form a major bulk of the rural workforce, work in the unorganized sector. The Urban workforce in the unorganized sector consists of contract based workers and those people who migrates from villages to the city in search of work and end up working as manual labourers or other such unorganized form of work. According to the CIA World Fact book, (Central Intelligence Agency-United States of America), in India in 2009 unemployment was growing at a rate of almost 10.7%. These are the official figures and may not include under-employment. Thus, actual rate of unemployment can only be higher than this figure.

Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2129.html (CIA World Fact-Book)—Accurate as on February 19, 2010
Source: indiaonestop.com The above chart is a rough indicator of the distribution of employment in India. However, it is difficult to accurately pin-point the actual figures because they are interchangeable. During the global recession many employees were sacked stating cost-cutting as a reason. These people would have joined either the self-employed category or simply the unemployed category.

Liberalization means more industries, more industries mean more jobs. How can unemployment figures rise in spite of liberalization? The answer is- liberalization demands a large scale, mass based mode of production. So heavy machinery replaces human resource and this is the major cause of post-liberalization unemployment. Machines beat man as far as mass production is concerned. Hence, while liberalization does create more jobs, an equal or in fact, an increasing number of jobs are lost every day. The downfall of the trademark Mumbai ‘Mill Culture’ illustrates this phenomenon. An example of how industrialization does not necessarily mean more jobs can be seen from the Washington based Institute of Policy Studies (IPS). According to this study, “the combined sales of the world’s top 200 MNCs is now greater than the combined GDP of all but the world’s nine largest economies. Yet the total direct employment generated by these multi-nationals is a mere 18.8 millions –one-hundredth of one percent of the global workforce.” (indiaonestop.com). Unemployment means no income for the individual and his family and hence the vicious circle of poverty-unemployment-poverty exists in our society. However poverty is not the only reason for unemployment in India. One of the most important reasons for unemployment is the colossal growth in the population. “India’s labour force is growing at a rate of 2.5 per cent annually, but employment is growing at only 2.3 per cent. Thus, the country is faced with the challenge of not only absorbing new entrants to the job market (estimated at seven million people every year), but also clearing the backlog.” (indiaonestop.com). As a result of population explosion, the number of jobs created has always been less than the number of candidates qualifying for a post, thus increasing competition for one post. “In 1971, 2, 88,487 degree holders and technical personnel were unemployed or seeking jobs.” (G.D Sharma, 1976). In fact an analytical study conducted in 2004 by S Ray and Rattan Chand concluded that unemployment was the highest for the ‘graduate and above’ category. (Chand, 2004) Why is it that even after completing graduation some people could not get the desired job? On one hand there is increased competition and on the other, the present education system is highly unequipped to arm the students with industry-oriented skills. So, only those students who can convert the theory-oriented learning into practical skills stand a chance to secure a job in the organized sector. Other candidates, inspire of completing graduation and other higher studies cannot secure high-profile jobs. After so much of education, settling down for a mediocre job may get on to their nerves and thus fill them with a sense of frustration. Some of these unemployed graduates might eventually be successful in getting part-time jobs or may start small businesses, but that might not be exactly what they had aspired for. However a vast majority of these unemployed graduates who do not have the resources or the skill to start their own business may end up suffering from depression.

IDENTITY CRISIS

The UN General Assembly, on 18th December 2009, adopted a resolution proclaiming the year commencing on 12th August 2010 as the International Year of Youth, with the theme “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”. The year will coincide with the 25th anniversary of the first International Youth Year in 1985 on the theme “Participation, Development and peace”. (WHO, 2010). It is heartening to see that the United Nations Organization is keen on promoting youth development. When wide-spread poverty, underdevelopment and unemployment breaks the backbone of an economy, the worst affected are the youth of a country. Youth is a phase of energy, vitality and vigour in one’s life. It’s a phase of dreaming, achieving, succeeding and celebrating. If the young in any country are gainfully employed they can satisfy the needs of their family. Happy families in turn, make a happy nation. However, when a large chunk of them are denied the opportunity of skill development, or job-satisfaction, the result is large-scale dissatisfaction and frustration. Abraham Maslow in his theory of self-actualization clearly stated the importance of basic needs first and then the higher needs of education and self-actualization. However poverty stops the youth from reaching out to the higher interests of life. They either become too complacent and content try to survive as long as possible by adjusting themselves to their low motivational environment. However, many a times when the frustration levels cross certain limits, self-destructive behavior is resorted to. Researchers in New Zealand conducted a study to find out the relation between unemployment and suicides. With a database of over two million people from the 1991 Census, they found that “men and women aged 25 to 44 years, and men aged 45 to 64 who were unemployed were two to three times as likely to commit suicide as their employed peers.” (BBC NEWS, 2003). Self-destructive behavior also includes substance abuse for e.g. alcohol addiction, drug abuse etc. When youngsters don’t have the means to pay for the drugs, they resort to crime like stealing, and violence. It should be a red alert time for the government if the youth of the country resort to fatalistic tendencies like drug abuse and suicide. Many youngsters, alienated due to poverty and unemployment feel the heat of injustice and may join terrorist or naxalite outfits. They feel they can have their revenge this way and do not fear death because they anyways do not see any point in living in poverty. They may view their terrorist activities as revolutionary ones and it is easy for terrorist groups with vested interests to woo such impoverished youth and brainwash them against the system. They usually catch them young and fill their impressionable minds with the ideology of hatred. Thus, we see that, poverty and unemployment are majorly responsible for the identity crisis faced by the youth. Their going astray is actually a struggle for attaining identity albeit in a wrong direction.
Let us compare our situation with that of America. According to a research conducted in 2004 by Robert Rector and Dr. Kirk Johnson, poverty in the Unites States of America has different dimensions when compared to other developing nations. When we talk about poverty in Asian, African and other developing worlds, we picture hungry, half-clothed people out on the streets. However, when we analyze the situation of the people classified as “poor” in America, we don’t find them matching these criteria. “46% of the “American Poor” actually own their homes and the average home size is a three bedroom house with one and a half baths, a garage and a porch or a patio” It is understood that the housing conditions for the “poor” people in America are actually better than that compared to the world. “According to the USDA, some 6.9 million Americans or 2.4 percent of the population were hungry at least once during 2002.” Thus, hunger is a short term and episodic concept among the “American poor”. What is judged as poverty in the U.S. is actually comfortable living by Indian standards. However last year global economic melt-down hasn’t spared U.S. Hunger and poverty statistics have gone up in the United States of America as well. However, the government has certain measures to keep hunger in check. For e.g. Charity initiatives like the soup kitchens and ‘Feeding America’- It is basically a food bank that provides food to more than 37 million low-income people facing hunger in America, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors. (Feeding America, 2010). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics placed the unemployment rate of the U.S. at 9.5 for the year 2010. According to Wikipedia.com, this was unemployment rate in India in 2009. So India and the U.S. are not far from each other as far as unemployment is concerned. However, what distinguishes the American situation form ours is the quick implementation of laws. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed in February 2009 with an aim of saving or creating 1.2 to 2.8 million jobs and according to their estimates they intended to save or create 3.7 million jobs by September 2010. The legislation not only helped people keep their jobs but also the unemployed workers were provided basic health care to ensure minimum physical and psychological damages due to unemployment. The Obama Government with its emphasis on less dependence on outsourcing is surely headed in the right direction and will succeed in creating many more jobs in the future.

What learning can we take from the U.S. example? Quite a lot, it seems. The effective implementation of plans is the key to all problems, including the economic problems of any country. Unfortunately, in India, economic reforms take a lot of time to actually manifest at the grass-root levels. They are usually stuck in unproductive debates at the policy-making level and by the time the resolutions are passed, much of the damage is already been done. Hopefully, the youth of India will take some insights from the way the U.S. has handled itself during past and recent rough times and learn that true leadership lies in learning from one’s mistakes. India can be the world leader it aspires to be, provided, the youth in our country works together with one mission and one vision.

Millennium Development Goals and The youth of India

October 30, 2014, 3:47 pm

By: Dr.Athiqul H. Laskar
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The year 2000 saw a major change in world politics. The world had had enough of sickly menaces like poverty, hunger, diseases, illiteracy, unemployment and crimes against women. 189 nations of the world in the form of the UN took a resolution to take concrete steps to change the face of the world in the ensuing 15 years. This resolution had a tremendous impact on countries all over the world. The developed nations of the world had a huge responsibility to perform. It was their moral duty to support the developing nations in their quest for eradication of the economic and social problems they faced. With this end in view, the 191 member nations of the UN embarked on an eight-fold path names rightly as the ‘Millennium Development Goals’. Today, we are five years short of reaching the expected goal. This chapter attempts to analyze and measure the impact of these goals to determine the extent of their success or failure so far. The major emphasis lies on the role of youth in achieving the targets have been promised.
The United Nations took a progressive step towards world development in 2000. Realizing the importance of concrete corrective action as against bureaucratic paper-work and grants, 189 nations among all the nations of the world undertook the eight-fold ‘Millennium Development Goals’ (Henceforth stated as MDGs) pledge. The objective was to achieve maximum world-wide progress within a span of fifteen years. This progress was intended to reach the remotest corners of the earth. The MDGs are time-bound and measurable. The main concern of the UN was, quite understandably, health. It was based on the premise that good health is a pre-requisite to achieve success in any field. Any amount of developmental help would be meaningless without the physical and the mental well-being of the masses. Hence health was a major influencing factor in the formulation of these goals. However it’s not enough to chart initiatives on paper and provide funds. The responsibility does not end there. As the Honorable General secretary of the UN, Mr. Kofi Annan said, “It is not in the United Nations that the Millennium Development Goals will be achieved. They have to be achieved in each country by the joint efforts of the Governments and people.” So, the youth being the energy and the driving force behind every country, have a major role to play in achieving the MDG goals. Let us study each goal individually and analyze the role the youth of today can play in the achievement of the MDG goals.
1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
The first goal aims at three targets. The goal will be achieved if India succeeds in 1) reducing by half the number of people living on less than a dollar a day, 2) Achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people, 3) Reducing by half the proportion of people suffering from hunger. Considering the fact that health is of primary importance, the World Health Organization, which is an associate of the UN, works in collaboration with other organization like the UNICEF in order to provide food to millions of poor children world-wide. With targeted efforts, they have partially succeeded. The proof of this can be seen from the fact that there has been a decline in the percentage of underweight children from 25% in 1990 to 16% in 2010. However an estimated 104 million children are underweight. (WHO, 2010). The WHO works on a permanent basis to develop policies for the nutritional development of the poor infants and children. Viewed from an Indian point of view, the situation is bleak. According to the world health indicators of the year 2006, In India, almost 43.5% children below the age of 5 years were underweight. This is the highest and is more than even the most economically impoverished countries of the world. This is a clear indication that much work is still required to be done. According to the FAO (Food and agriculture Organization), 21% of the Indian population is below the minimum level of dietary energy consumption (WHO, 2007). The government of India has undertaken rigorous measures to curtail the intensity of poverty and hunger. As of result of these efforts, “The incidence of poverty has declined by almost 50 percent between 1977-78 and 1999-2000, from 51.3 percent in 1977-78 to 28.6 percent in 1999-2000. During the same period, the rural poverty declined from 53.1 percent to 27.1 percent and urban poverty from 45.2 percent to 23.6 percent (10th Plan). As per survey conducted in the year 1999-2000, 34.7 percent of India’s population was living on less than US $ 1/day (World Development Indicators, 2005).” These statistics are encouraging, but we must remember that we are still very far from achieving our goals when it comes to poverty. Actual poverty is much higher than what is reflected in the statistics due to the faulty understanding of poverty. If any income above $1 is considered as above poverty, then perhaps there is as strict need for a comparative study between expenses and inflation levels. At the same time, employment opportunities must be created in the organised as well as unorganised sector so that every individual gets a chance of earning a fair amount of income that is required to live a comfortable life. Unemployment is a bane of developing society and creates major havoc in the lives of youth and affects overall economy by debilitating the youth.
The governments must regularly monitor the number of youth living in poverty. Sex-aggregated and age-based research must reflect the extent of youth poverty. The government must also ensure maximum participation of the youth in poverty reduction programmes like the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). It is important to engage the youth, especially the rural youth. This could be done by employing them in various services as well as infrastructure development programmes.
2) Achieve Universal Primary education
Education is one of the basic needs of human beings. Without education, employment in organised sectors is difficult and hence education influences other goals related to the youth like poverty eradication. The primary aim of this goal is to ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling. It is distressing to know that in the year 2003; about 115 million children worldwide did not have any access to primary school. (UNFPA, 2003). According to an ILO survey, more than half of the world’s jobless are under the age of 24. The government of India has recently undertaken a major initiative to reform primary education in India. In 2009, the government passed the ‘Right of children to Free and Compulsory Education Act.’ The MDG India country report published recently stated that the net primary school enrolment in India has increased by 75 percent in 1990 to 96 percent in 2008 which is quite impressive; yet children in many remote parts of India who are beyond the reach of even statistical analysis, are still out of reach of primary schools (endpoverty2015.org, 2010).
Another aspect concerning the spread of universal education which also translates into a separate goal in itself is the reduction of gender related discrimination in education. The United Nations Girls’ Education initiative (UNGEI) aimed at providing basic support and advocating girls’ education globally. In India the scenario is not very encouraging. Girls’ enrolment to school, in many parts of the country is withdrawn when they reach puberty. Such steps are taken to curb pre-marital pregnancies and avoid social ostracism. However, this is a violation of the right to education. This does not mean that there has been absolutely no progress on this front at all. India has concentrated its efforts in this direction when we realised that ‘one girl child educated means an entire family educated’. On an average, in 1990-91, among the primary students, there were 71 girl students for every 100 boy students. This ratio has increased to 78:100 in the year 2000-01 (Economywatch.com, 2010). However, in order to reach anywhere near a 100:100 ratio, we must encourage maximum participation of girls at every level. In order to fulfil their promise to the girl child, the government of India has made special provisions for girls For e.g. “free textbooks to girls up to class VIII, separate toilets for girls, back-to- school camps for out –of- school girls, Bridge courses for older girls, Recruitment of 50% women teachers, Early childhood care and education centres in/near schools/ convergence with ICDS programme etc.” (Ministry of HRD, GOI, 2007). Governmental reform measures like the National Programme for education of Girls for Elementary Level (NPEGEL) and the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme will be instrumental in promoting gender equality in education. A lot NGOs are working in this direction and require young human resources to achieve this end. . Educated youth must come forward and take the responsibility of teaching economically backward students. The government can give an impetus to this strategy by making certain changes in the existing curriculum. Enthusiastic and bright students from the secondary level can be encouraged to teach many students from the primary level. This will ensure youth participation in the development process.

3) Promote Gender Equality and Empower women
The basic target of this goal is to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015. According to the 2005 UNESCO data, the targets set for this goal have been missed by 94 out of 149 countries for which data is available. We have seen what steps the government of India has taken to promote education amongst girls. As a result the net enrolment ratio of girls enrolling into primary school has increased from 61 percent in 1991 to 75.7 percent in 2001 (UNGEI, 2005). According to the UNGEI report, India has thus made tremendous progress. However, exploitation of girls is not limited to denial of education. There are many issues that plague the community of women world-wide like child marriage, sexual harassment, human trafficking etc. and these need immediate attention as well. Child marriage is illegal and is one of the worst forms of human rights violation. In rural parts of the country, many children are married off at an early age. As a result they bear children at a young age and hence face lot of health and nutritional complications. There has been a significant decrease in the number of women getting married before the age of 18. For e.g. according to NFHS and UNICEF, in 1992-93, 54% women married before the age of 18, but in the year 2005-2006, the number reduced to 45% which however is still high. The government needs to support the initiative of development by promoting safety of women and the girl child. Banning female feticide and providing education is only the first step. The government must also work towards the rehabilitation of women trapped in the flesh trade. Legal relief to rape victims should be timely, because justice delayed is justice denied.
Even today, in many households in India, the girl child is discriminated against. It is the norm for men to eat first and whatever is left over is then eaten by the women in the house. The education of the boys is given more preference as against that of girls. If we have to achieve our goals of gender-equality, we must take more concrete steps towards women empowerment. Women empowerment can be achieved through education and legal safeguards. The youth of today must realize that in order to progress they have to keep the barriers of gender-discrimination aside and let women assume equal responsibilities. The government must in turn, ensure participation of more young women in the social arena through encouragement for participation in politics and social work. It must also support the NGOs working for the upliftment of women through effective funding and incentives.
4) Reduce Child Mortality.
Under this specific goal the UN has undertaken the responsibility to ‘reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate (U5MR) and the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR).’ The Infant Mortality Rate in India in the year 2006 was 58/1000 lives births. According to UNICEF studies, about 16 percent of under-five mortality in India could be prevented by the universal practice of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life (The Lancet Vol.362 , 2003). Mortality due to malnourishment is a big cause of concern in India. Curtailment of diseases like Polio, Diphtheria, Tuberculosis and measles are high on the list of UN. UNICEF has helped train female volunteers in India to administer polio vaccines. The anti-polio campaign spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are quite successful so far in curbing the spread of the disease. According to the National Family Health Survey 2 and 3 (published by the Ministry of Health and Family welfare), the total immunization cover has increased from 42 percent in 1998-99 to 43.5 percent in 2005-06. However, the government till date organizes annual polio vaccination days so that people even in the remote areas of India could avail of free vaccination and this dreaded virus could be eliminated forever. Regular medical camps and free health check-ups are conducted in most villages to make sure that lack of diagnosis does not kill children. The government of India has increased the total expenditure on children’s heath to 3% of the GDP. So the funds are being allocated in the right direction. With this move, we now have hopes of achieving the MDG goals at least partially, if nothing else. Healthy children are the future of India and by not taking care to save the lives of children dying due to various reasons; we are wasting a huge resource that can be the face of a developed India.
Youth participation in providing health services can go a long way in improving some basic facilities for children, for e.g. unemployed youth can be encouraged to learn and teach pre-natal care. This required especially in the rural areas. These youth can be trained to provide basic healthcare like first aid during emergencies. They could also be trained to provide basic child care as well as help in vaccination campaigns. Brighter students can be employed to assist doctors in creating awareness regarding epidemics, especially while handling superstitious rural people. This will substantially solve the issue of unemployment for many rural youth.
5) Improve Maternal health

A mother plays an important role in the lives of children. Poor health of women may force children to assume the role of adult at a very young age. One in every ten births world-wide is to a teenage mother and the situation is worse in the LDC’s (least developed countries) with one out of every six babies being born to a young mother between 15 and 19 years of age (UN.ORG). Such early pregnancies are majorly responsible for most of the maternal deaths. The UN aimed to ‘reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio’. However, most of the developing regions are not anywhere close to achieving this goal. According to UNICEF reports, India’s Maternal Mortality Rate is the highest in the world. India holds the shameless record of 1 death every five minutes due to complications in pregnancy. The reason is pretty simple. Till date, in many villages across India, the delivery is supervised by an older woman, or a mid-wife, who is considered an expert at childbirth. The delivery usually happens at the pregnant woman’s house. As soon as she enters the labor phase of pregnancy, the mid-wife is called for help. However, in case of complications, the mid-wife is not equipped with any modern tools to assist the woman in the process of birth. Most don’t prefer taking their pregnant wives to a hospital due to superstitions, ignorance and fear. Many others just don’t have the money to do so. The government should make it convenient for the village folks by operating enough medical avenues in every village of the country, however small the village might seem. Improvement has been seen in the number of pregnancies attended by skilled personnel in recent times. However, death during delivery is just one of the factors contributing to MMR. Many women all over the world die due to unsafe abortions. A whopping 90% of India’s 6 million annual abortions are carried out in unhygienic and unsafe conditions (Kapilashrami, 2010). Usually, such unsafe pregnancies are carried out because of fear of social ostracism. Pregnancy for unmarried women is a social taboo. Hence such situations force women to undergo abortion in shady unsafe places. In India, the mortality for illegal abortions is almost 7.8 per 1000 abortions. What right do these illegal operators have to play with someone’s life? Plus sexually transmitted diseases, less gap between two pregnancies, lack of say in contraception – all add to the woes of a large percentage of Indian women. In spite of all the progress in medical science that India boasts of, it is highly distressing to see that 1 in every 70 Indian women die because of pregnancy related complications compared to one in every 7300 women in the developed countries (Varia, 2009). The attainment of this goal will depend on how empowered women are to take their own decisions. Youth, including young girls must take responsibility for their own actions. Women must realize that they have the right to say ‘no’ to repeated pregnancies.

Young people must be educated about reproductive health and sexual behavior. They must be made aware of the hazards of unsafe sex which are as dangerous as adolescent pregnancies, AIDS and other STDs. The government must support and fund the youth led organizations that work towards protecting women from sexual abuse and domestic violence.

6) Combat HIV/Aids, Malaria and other diseases
HIV, as a disease affects mostly the youth, worldwide. About 7000 young people are newly infected with HIV/AIDS every year. The current youth population living with AIDS amounts to around 11.8 million (UN.ORG). The UN in the MDGs has aimed to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015. It also proposed to ensure universal access to AIDS medicine to everyone irrespective of their economic status. It emphasized the eradication of Malaria and other deadly diseases. Most of the countries of the world are again, off-track on this goal as well. This is because most of these goals are inter-related. Let us consider for e.g. the relation between goal number 5 and 6. If mothers do not have access to proper medical facilities themselves, how can they prevent transmission of AIDS to their children? In 2004, almost 13 percent of new infections world-wide were children (UNICEF, 2004). Thus if we fall back on one goal, the other goals are equally affected. The UNICEF works with governments to ensure dissemination of information and education to the masses. In India, UNICEF does some remarkable work at the grass-root levels for e.g. the AASHA (AIDS Awareness and Sustained Holistic Action) programme conducted in Andra Pradesh. (UNICEF, 2010). The third phase of National Aids control programme (NACP) began in 2007 and will continue till 2012. As a part of this programme, in 2007 a NHS survey was conducted, the results of which stated that the HIV prevalence in India now stands at about 2.5 million (UNAIDS, 2008). Making medical services more accessible to people is the need of the day and the government is doing exactly that, for e.g. the number of centers providing ART (Anti-Retroviral Treatment) is estimated to reach 300 by this year end. The number of NGOs providing care and support to patients living with HIV is also increasing. Such continuous and grass-root level efforts can go a long way in assuring eradication of this monster of an epidemic. It is essential to encourage youth-led campaigns in schools and colleges, wherein young people can work as peer educators and counselors. Young people will be more willing to discuss sexual issues with a person of their age rather than someone elder. Hence, peer educators are the best bet to consider for sex education.
Malaria, Diphtheria, Tuberculosis (TB) and Measles are other deadly diseases that claim millions of lives annually the world-over. In 1997, the Directly Observed Treatment, Short course (DOTS) which is recommended for TB control by the WHO was launched. This is one of the fastest expanding programmes initiating almost 1 Lakh patients every month and thus being the second largest programme in the world in terms of population coverage (tbcindia.org). In India, after 2005, the funding for the Stop TB Programme was increased with global financial help (WHO, 2008). Thus with effective political commitment we can see good results. Accordingly for Malaria, the National Malaria Control Programme launched in April 1953 did prove tremendously successful initially. It succeeded in bringing down the incidence of malaria from 75 million registered cases in 1953 to 2 million in 1958 and only 5000 by the year 1961. However has begun to raise its ugly head again due to various operational and administrative failures (malariasite.com, 2004). Concentrated efforts to revive the Malaria control Programme are the only measure to curb the Malaria and other diseases.

7) Ensure Environmental Sustainability.
“Today, human activities are causing losses in biodiversity at a rate 50 to 100 times faster than would otherwise be expected.” (UNICEF). The UN aims at achieving sustainable development, however, without harming the ecological system. They also emphasize the need to make amends by reversing the damage that has already been done to the environment. Major importance is intended to be allotted to reducing the rate of biodiversity loss. They also would be working towards reducing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Another target under this goal would be to achieve significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. These targets look pretty difficult considering the demands of today’s industrial world. Now let’s look at some facts and figures. According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (March 2005), there has been a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth, with some 10-30% of the mammal, bird and amphibian species threatened with extinction, due to human actions (Shah, 2010). Wanton poaching, reduction in grazing pastures, industrial activities and increase in temperature are major reasons for the extinction of many species of the flora and fauna. Animals like the Panda, Tiger, few species of the antelope, and many more species are on the verge of extinction thanks to the greed of human beings. More and more trees are being cut every other day for agricultural and industrial purposes, resulting in land erosion and natural disasters like floods and draughts. If we erode the variation in the life-forms on earth, ultimately one day it will affect us in the form of ecological imbalance. Every animal has a place and function in the eco-system. Disturbing this eco-balance is equal to playing with fire. The youth has a huge responsibility towards the environment. They are coming forward and participating in initiatives like ‘Save the Tiger’ and other such projects. They can further increase the momentum by helping NGOs perform better by spreading awareness about issues like global warming, ecological imbalance etc. Certainly, there is a marked improvement in some areas. The figures for household access to toilets were as low as 5% in 1990; however they have begun accelerating particularly during the last couple of years. However sanitation coverage was at 35% among the rural population and this figure needs to rise to 53% until 2015. (UNICEF, 2004) Till date a huge number of people in India do not have easy access to safe and potable water. Women in the rural areas have to walk miles to fetch water. These statistics show that there are still many roadblocks to progress and we have to step up the reform programs like the National Water Supply Programme (Swajaldhara) and the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC).
The programme of achieving environmental sustainability can certainly benefit from leadership skills by the youth. The Youth must be encouraged to participate in various awareness campaign related to the environment. Government as well as Non-Governmental Organizations must effectively involve youth organizations in planning and strategizing for environmental sustainability, for e.g. by organizing or funding youth-led water-harvesting initiatives, renewable energy development projects and waste-material and plastic recycling programmes.
8) Develop a Global partnership for Development
There is wide spread economic disparity not only within the countries of the world but also between them. The wide gap in the standard of living in the developed countries and the underdeveloped or developing countries is a matter of concern. In order to improve the standard of living of the impoverished countries, it is mandatory to bring about a global partnership between the nations of the world. The rich countries must support the development process in the poor countries through effective fund-raising and loan facilities. The poor countries on the other hand must ensure the proper allocation of the funds in the right direction and in the right task. According to the changing global scenario, they must bring about changes in their way of governance. The UN intended to achieve this very target through the 8th goal –to develop a global partnership for development. They committed themselves to good governance, development and poverty reduction on a national and international level. This has to be achieved by calculating and monitoring the net ODA (Official development assistance). The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (The OECD) is dedicated to bring the nations of the world together in terms of financial assistance and Co-operation. This organization monitors economic development in the member countries by collecting their economic data and analyzing them. The UN also plays a major role in negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies to provide affordable essential drugs to the poor countries. This is very essential because most of the other goals in the MDG are health related. If easy access to essential drugs is not provided to the LDCs, they will have least chances of bringing about any change in the health sector by 2015.
At the UN assembly in 1970 many rich countries of the world pledged to assist the poor countries of the world by giving about 0.7% of their GNP (which later on changed to GNI). However, it is interesting to note that almost all of these rich countries never fulfilled this promised rate of official development assistance. Let’s consider the example of The United States of America. Their share of developmental assistance has been the highest since 2001, if you consider it in terms of the total US dollars spent on aid. However, they were nowhere near to the 0.7% promised in 1970 UN assembly. In fact, even as their GNI increased, their aid for many poor countries was a fixed dollar amount, which means that their developmental assistance has in fact decreased (Shah, globalissues.org, 2010). These rich countries of the world also intended to assist the LDCs by reducing export tariffs and increasing quota, thus increasing market access to the least developed or developing nations. However, it turned out that many a time the aid they provided was attached to trade conditions often beneficial to the donor nations, for e.g. in return of foreign aid, they made the recipient country open up their markets for their overpriced foreign goods. Thus the aid they provided was recovered in terms of gains from selling their products in new markets. The rich countries had promised to provide debt relief to heavily indebted countries and help the development of small island countries and landlocked developing countries. Moreover they aimed at making debt sustainable for the developing countries through comprehensive action plans by measuring their HIPC completion points (Heavily indebted Poor countries) and providing debt relief accordingly. However, it has been observed that debt relief has political strings attached to it. Debt relief is a different aspect of economic co-operation and should not be confused with developmental aid. However, this is exactly what is happening. A remarkable part of developmental assistance is given in the form of debt write-off to poor countries, but one must understand that a debt write-off cannot aid the developmental process in the recipient country and hence beats the purpose of developmental assistance. This type of debt assistance is occasional and not sustainable (Shah, globalissues.org, 2010). It is important for the youth of today to know what kind of political games are being played by these so called rich countries of the world. In order, to turn the wheels around, the Indian youth must realize where increased consumerism is leading us. In many urban parts of our country, the youth has become so brand conscious that they consider over-priced foreign goods as better than Indian made less expensive goods. The youth, as responsible citizen of India, must take responsibility in changing this mentality. The young generation must realize that our growth as an economy will happen only when we reduce our dependence of foreign aid. We must use whatever current foreign aid available to us and develop indigenous products that will help us rake in money. We must not waste our resources in blindly spending on goods of foreign origin because; every time we do so, we are sending money out of our country.
The 8th goal of the MDGs also focuses on the employment development among the youth. It is not good news for an emerging nation like India to have a substantially high number of unemployed youth. The government has already taken many steps towards the empowerment of youth; notable among them are the TRYSEM (Training of Rural youth for self-employment) and the Gram Swarozgar Yojana for the rural youth. More and more young entrepreneurs should be encouraged to set up innovative business ventures. A recent advertisement in the Times of India is inviting applications from anyone who has an innovative business idea with a promise of turning the best ideas into actual ventures. Such initiatives should be very well funded and encouraged so that capable youth who lack the resources can get a stimulus for productive activity.
In keeping with one more target of the 8th goal, The UN, in collaboration with the private sector has brought about tremendous changes in the way the world communicates. Their premise that better communication and access to information can bring about revolutionary changes in the education of people has proved right. This access to information has shown tremendous positive effects in the field of health, commerce, education and related activities. Today almost everyone from an officer to a student over even a fruit-seller has a mobile phone. In December 2008, the Indian Prime minister Mr. Manmohan Singh had predicted that India will reach the 650 million mobile phone subscribers mark by 2012. In 2010, we have already crossed the 500 million mark. This stupendous growth is commendable. According to the International Telecommunication Union, India has more than 5 million internet users which is phenomenal for a country that has tremendous economic challenges. All this would have been unimaginable ten years ago. Information and communications technology has changed the face of our country. We must feel the pulse of modern time and make full use of this IT boom. Meritorious youngsters who want to set up businesses in the information and communication technology industry must be especially encouraged because this industry has tremendous potential for growth.
In spite of impressive growth in the IT sector, India must keep its feet firmly on the ground because we are lagging much behind on our other MDG goals. To compare our case with America will be a little difficult. The United States of America is an OECD nation and much of the financial assistance (albeit much less than what was promised) to the world comes from here. However, the continent of America also has the less developed Latin American and Caribbean parts. Most of the countries of Latin America, like India, have achieved their targets in some areas and are seriously off-track in some others. For e.g. according to the MDG report 2010, “the region has nearly reached the target of halving the prevalence of underweight children by 2015, with the proportion of children under five who are underweight dropping from 11 percent in 1990 to 6 percent in 2008.” They have also achieved marked improvement in child mortality rate, gender equality and women’s’ empowerment. They have achieved what many nations like many powerful countries like India could not achieve by giving extensive AIDS education to the masses, for e.g. the number of women receiving AIDS education doubled from 15 percent in 2000 to 34 percent in 2007. (MDG , 2010). However, they have achieved very less on the goal to achieve environmental sustainability. Wanton deforestation has occurred in parts of Southern America and the result of nature’s wrath has already been seen in the form of earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. If such irresponsibility towards nature continues, destruction will not be far away and any amount of progress that the world makes will be rendered meaningless. The MDGs aim at achieving progress on a global level but not at the cost of stripping the earth of its greenery. Hence, it is very important that rich and poor countries alike must strive to safeguard the earth from environmental depletion.
Ultimately, it’s the youth, the future citizens of the world that must enjoy the fruits of progress or suffer the horrors of natural disasters. There is no doubt that most of the countries are nowhere near achieving their MDGs and this is due to selfish economic policies of the rich countries and corruption rampant in the poor ones. So, it’s time for the youth all over the world to take control over corruption in politics. The youth worldwide do realize that non-achievement of these MDGs mean a bleak future for the entire world and not one country in particular. Strong political will and co-operation amongst nations are the only hope for a better future.
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Life-skill approach to technical and continuing education

October 30, 2014, 3:44 pm

018

Dr.Athiqul H.Laskar,M.Sc.,Ph.D.
Communication skill consultant and trainer
ABSTRACT
Education is one of the fundamental birth-rights of every human being. According to Abraham Maslow’s theory of self-actualization, once the physiological and emotional needs of man are satisfied, he yearns to fulfill his psychological and intellectual needs. Education provides him with an opportunity to enhance his potential. However, in India, a substantial number of people below the poverty line struggle to make ends meet. In such circumstances, it becomes difficult to contemplate their intellectual development. Programmes like the ‘Sarva Shikshan Abhiyaan’ (SSA) and the ‘Mid-Day Meal’ Schemes have certainly proved instrumental in improving the turn-out at the primary level. However, it is estimated that 95 percent children in India attend primary school, while only 40 percent attend secondary school. Education beyond the secondary level is restricted to the privileged few. Also the current education system focuses more on academics and less on life-skills development opportunities, which are often deemed as extra-curricular. Hence many students enter the work-force with undeveloped psycho-social skills. However, the global labor market scenario is changing rapidly. The knowledge driven economy is dynamic and extremely challenging. Jobs are scarce and the industry demands highly motivated individuals who are capable of constant learning and who can function effectively by fully utilizing limited resources. Team work and a global environment pose the need for individuals with effective inter-personal communication skills. Thus, efficiency at work involves much more than just knowing the technical skills required for the job. Individuals not trained in life skills are unable to cope with such a job environment and hence are disillusioned with their job and angry with the system. They run a higher risk of low motivation at work and are prone to go astray due to bad company as their own critical thinking capacity is not developed. Often, academically well-qualified students take to crime as they are unable to cope with the competitive environment. This calls for a reassessment of the quality of education imparted at the professional, technical (vocational), and adult level. These are three different modes of training, with a single aim of providing quality work-force to the labour market. Thus, in order to determine the quality of work-force in our country it is imperative to comprehensively study the impact of a life-skills approach on all these three segments.
This paper studies the various life-skills in relation to their impact on youth behavior. It addresses some of the key issues involved in imparting quality life skills training at important stages of learning. It analyses the various life-skills with relation to their importance in employment, personal life as well as for the physical and psychological well-being of the youth of our nation. Substantial emphasis is placed on problems faced by the youth in coping with difficulties arising out of improper life-skills training. This paper also suggests various ways in which a life-skills approach to education can prove to be a major quality-booster in the lives of youth. It aims to reinstate that life skills training can definitely give impetus to industry by improving cognitive abilities of the youth rather than presenting an army of technically sound but socially untrained youth.
Introduction
India has stepped into a golden age of limitless opportunities in every field. The dawn of globalization has augured well for the future of our country. New job opportunities were created and India suddenly found itself standing on the threshold of immense technological advancement that it hadn’t seen in ages. A new hope of freedom from unemployment and poverty was created. However every freedom comes with a big responsibility. As new opportunities in technical fields were created, the corporate world faced a new challenge. The advancement in technology had to be accompanied with an equally robust growth in skilled manpower. The existing education was highly theory-oriented and less practical and hence not capable of providing skilled labor in such huge numbers so as to sustain the growth of a liberalized economy. The skills involved were unfortunately not a part of school and college curriculum and hence there was an urgent need for vocational courses intended to prepare youth for job-oriented skills. This demand was amply supplied for and our country saw a tremendous mushrooming of various professional and vocational courses. However, in today’s scenario, even after providing job-related technical skills through these courses there remains the need for psychological training for various issues like job related stress, negotiation and communication etc. The various educational institutions in India churn out graduates, many of who cannot adapt to various work-environments. The education system emphasizes solely on academics and not on the psycho-social skills of individuals. Hence, many youngsters find it extremely difficult to acquire and keep jobs. It is important to conduct an in-depth study of what life-skills are to arrive at a conclusion as to what can be done to include life-skills education in all aspects of our current education system.
LIFE SKILLS
The World Education Forum that met from 26th to 28th April 2000 in Dakar adopted the Dakar Framework for Action: Education for All. Its focus was on meeting all collective commitments made in the 1990 World Declaration on Education for All; made in Jomtien, Thailand. Six ‘Education for All’ goals were adopted. Those six EFA goals are as follows:
“1. Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
2. Ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality.
3. Ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programmes.
4. Achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults.
5. Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.
6. Improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.” (UNESCOBKK.org). Additionally, the report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century promoted a holistic view of education consisting of four “pillars”: learning to know, learning to do, learning to be and learning to live together was widely adopted. Thus, a lifelong commitment to education was emphasized in place of the existing ‘education for a job’ notion popular in the society.
Two of the EFA goals, goal 3 and goal 6 focus on the role of life skills in education. Education gives knowledge. However, correct knowledge must have a correcting influence on behavior. If this does not happen, the entire purpose of education takes a beating. For e.g. educated youth know that smoking is hazardous to health. Yet we often find well-educated youngsters smoking outside college campuses, office corridors etc. So what is the benefit of teaching them that smoking is injurious and can cause permanent damage to the body? Here the purpose of education has failed. Similarly, just teaching technical skills will not make a person capable of handling an office of responsibility. He must have skills that help him handle his relations with others better. He must have the ability to refer to his knowledge and implement various concepts in a logical way. The World Health Organization defines Life-skills as follows: “Life skills are abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. In particular, life skills are a group of psychosocial competencies and interpersonal skills that help people make informed decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate effectively, build healthy relationships, empathies with others, and cope with and manage their lives in a healthy and productive manner.”
UNICEF has provided a tentative list of various skills that are required to live a productive and successful life. Hence these skills are known as life skills. They can be categorized as 1) Communication and inter-personal skills, 2) Decision-Making and Critical Thinking Skills, 3) Coping and Self-management skills. Let us analyze each of these skills and study their effect or the lack thereof on the youth.
(1) Communication and Inter-personal skills: These involve a wide range of skills like inter-personal communication skills, negotiation or refusal skills, ability to empathize, co-operation and teamwork and advocacy skills. These skills are very important because in the absence of these skills, an individual might not be able to function in the society.

Interpersonal Communication Skills — Communication is the most important aspect of any work environment in today’s age. We have been taught that communication is a two-way process, so both the receiver and the sender have to be good at communication. Otherwise the message is distorted. So communication is always inter-personal and never individual. One has to correctly understand instructions from superiors and might have to explain things to colleagues in the course of work. However in order to do this correctly, one must understand that effective communication involves not only verbal but also non-verbal communication. For e.g. If a boss says to his employee that he is happy with his performance with a smile on his face, then he really means it; but if he says the same thing with a frown or a sly smile then he means exactly the opposite of what he is saying. Thus it is important to read between the lines and not go with the overt meaning. It requires an understanding of gestures and body languages used in the particular culture. Sometimes difference in cultures can be barriers to communication as well, because acceptable gestures in one culture could be considered rude in some other cultures.

One must learn to listen well. Many a times we engross ourselves so much in talking or analyzing what has been said that we forget to listen. The American economist Bernard M. Baruch, who has also been the adviser to many US presidents once said, “Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” (thinkexist.com). Active listening means not just hearing what has been said but also assimilating the true meaning of it. It involves understanding, interpretation and evaluation. According to a 1980s research conducted by the American communication researchers, Steil, Watson and Barker, listening is an active four step process that involved sensing, interpreting, evaluating and responding. This research underlined the procedure of active listening a salesman should conduct in order to be successful. The salesman has to first begin by actively hearing, seeing and receiving both the verbal and the non-verbal clues given by the buyer. Then he must interpret these clues in his message by placing them in the proper context of the buyer’s non-verbal behavior, his experiences and his language. Next, he must evaluate the message logically and emotionally by judging it through his own understanding as fact or opinion. The fourth step involves responding in an appropriate manner either by paraphrasing or asking relevant questions to convey to the buyer that his message has been well understood. This is a proven model of effective communication through active listening and is called the SIER hierarchy of active listening (proven models.com). However, so many sales people wander aimlessly throughout their careers in order to search for the one get-rich-quick tip to change their lives. No one teaches active listening in schools, but it is one of the most important tools in succeed in any area of work.

Only by being a good listener can one give an effective feedback. A feedback is of utmost importance to increase mutual understanding between people. If a sender of a message does not receive a feedback from the receiver of his message, then he cannot be too sure whether the receiver has correctly understood it. In fact, the entire purpose of communication is eliciting a favorable response from the receiver. The giver of a feedback has to be careful about the effects of his feedback on the receiver. For e.g. if a manager has to give a negative feedback to an employee he must provide enough opportunities to the employee to explain his/her point of view. He must provide the feedback without criticizing and playing blame-games and must encourage the employee to perform better. On the other hand it is equally important that the employee receive his/her feedback positively. He/she must not feel victimized or undeservingly picked on but rather be happy that he is being exposed to positive improvement-oriented criticism.

Negotiation and Refusal skills—‘Negotiation’ is normally associated with sales positions, employee appraisals, or political diplomatic meetings. However, many of us don’t realize that negotiation is a part of everyone’s routine life. For e.g. parents need to negotiate desirable behavior with their teenage children. If one has to buy a house, he/she needs to negotiate the fees with the broker. Women, especially working women in India have a great deal of negotiation to do every day. Be it negotiating with their bosses for an extra holiday to take care of a sick child, or haggling over the prices of grocery with vendors, their life is a string of negotiations. Negotiation is an art. One must be able to elicit a desired response from another person without being too pushy or aggressive. Very often we stick to our view points and refuse to make a place for any other person’s view point. Negotiation becomes difficult if both the persons start taking specific positions and refuse to budge from there. This is a conflict situation which if handled with understanding can be managed. In order to be an effective negotiator, we must learn to make certain smaller concessions in order to achieve higher gains. For e.g. if a parent wants his child to be well-behaved and concentrate on his/her studies, the parent must make time for the child and indulge in the child’s favorite activities, at least sometimes. The parent cannot just give the ‘no time’ excuse and still expect his or child to be well developed. Effective negotiations are those that leave positive feelings with both the negotiator and the negotiated. Managing conflicts tactically is an art everyone needs to learn. It is one of the key skills required to succeed in life because without negotiation, one cannot possibly get things done.

At the same time, a person must be able to resist succumbing to being negotiated for anything undesirable. He or she must also understand how to ‘say a no’ to certain unwanted practices. For e.g. a teenager in college might have a lot of peer pressure from his friends to smoke. Since all his friends are smokers, to fit in to his peer group, he also must smoke. He knows that smoking is injurious to health. Yet, for social acceptance among his group, he may start smoking. However, if he is taught refusal or negotiation skills, he will know how to refuse the offers to smoke without damaging his relationship with his friends. Also refusal/negotiation skills will teach a youngster to ‘say no’ to unsafe sexual practices and multiple sexual partners, and negotiate the use of condoms thus reducing the risk of HIV/AIDS. Assertiveness is a key factor involved in refusal or negotiation. Assertiveness does not require a person to be aggressive as is commonly believed. Assertiveness simply means being able to say ‘no’ to something without feeling guilty or regretful. Assertive people know what they want from their life and are focused on it so they can easily say no to things that don’t fall in their scheme of life.

Empathy is another factor influencing communication. Empathy means placing oneself in the other person’s shoes and understanding his point of view, his needs and circumstances. Once a person learns active listening, it is very easy for him/her to empathies with others. Without empathy one cannot analyze any situation in depth. For e.g. for an effective manager it is not enough just to know that his employees have not performed well. It is equally important for him to place himself/herself in the employee’s position to understand what are the problems faced by him/her. Only then can the manager find effective solutions to the problem of under-performance.

Liberalization and the advent of MNCs have brought team work culture in India. Teamwork is defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary as “a joint action by a group of people, in which each person subordinates his or her individual interests and opinions to the unity and efficiency of the group.” Complex tasks involving strict deadlines demand a coordinated effort from every team member. Thus, in order to perform better at work one must gel well with the team. One must be able to overlook individual differences in the interest of the team. Not respecting others’ view, placing self before the team, not contributing to team performance are all negative markers which do not allow a person to build a rapport with the team. It is important for every member of the team to align their goals with those of the team as a whole. Even one person left out might leave a rift in the team.

The talent of persuasion is something that a person either innately possesses or develops through his experiences. Persuasion deals with the art of changing a person’s mind, his/her perspectives and outlook. It is very difficult to shake up set beliefs stereotypical attitudes of people but this can be achieved through logical persuasion. If a person fails to persuade others or is not able to motivate one’s team, then he or she will not be able to rise to a position of eminence in any organization. This in turn will de-motivate him/her. Not being able to convince others is the biggest obstacle in the path of leadership.

Thus, as we see, Proficiency in all these communication and inter-personal skills is a key requirement in any field of human endeavor. All these skills decide the extent to which people relate to each other and are able to work together as a cohesive unit of any organization. The real challenge to our corporate sector today is the fact that these skills are not focused on in the school curriculum. Inability to develop effective communication skills is the most common reason why many otherwise brilliant youth fail at being successful at work.

(2) Decision-Making and Critical Thinking skills: One’s decisions can make or break one’s life. The effects of the choices that we make, especially during adolescence are lasting. Wrong decisions taken at important stages of life can result in long term distress. For e.g. many a time students do not make informed decisions regarding their choice of career and end up being in the wrong line of studies. Many students get influenced by their peers and take up the same course that their friends are pursuing. The choice of a career related course is one that changes the entire course or one’s life. It must be made after a detailed and informed study of al available options and should match the student’s interest and capacity.
Decision making /Problem solving skills– Information gathering skills play an important role in this respect. It is important for schools to give their students a brief introduction of each line of study in order to prepare them in advance. The students should be encouraged to gather information by various methods like online research and various other methods possible. Only then can the student make an informed decision without being merely emotional. One has to make informed decisions in every walk of life. Unfortunately, even after getting educated, many youngsters do not seem to know the art of making informed decisions. Many find themselves confused when it comes to choosing a vocation, a job, or even a life partner. They are at a loss of understanding as far as analyzing consequences is concerned. They usually get bogged down by problems and fail to arrive at a particular decision. This is where problem solving skills come handy. Problem solving involves three major steps namely, (a) recognizing that a problem exists and approaching it with a positive mind-set, (b) using logical reasoning to arrive at alternative solutions to the problem, (c) Using one’s reasoning powers and applying the best solution available. Before acting on their decisions they must also think about the consequences of their actions on themselves and others. All these involve analysis, reasoning and evaluation. Thus all these are thinking procedures that are critical in problem solving and arriving at a particular decision. Hence they are called critical thinking skills.
If one has to think critically, then he must take into consideration all aspects of a particular problem. He must analyze peer and media influence. Lets us consider a hypothetical case. We know that, violence has become commonplace in today’s media. News, films and even advertisements promote violence of various kinds. In this scenario, a school student requests his friend to help him in beating up another student. Now, the friend has two options. He either joins him or he doesn’t. His choice will depend on his critical thinking skills. If he does not think critically, media influence will take over and he will rationalize his actions by thinking that violence is acceptable in films so its ok to beat someone in real life. He will join his friend. However, if he exercises his critical thinking ability to judge the effects of his actions, he will think that violence is hurtful to himself and others and causes a lot of pain and anguish. So he will not join his friend in beating another student.
Thus, as we see, critical thinking skills play a major role in decision making. Also our values, social norms and beliefs will always control the way we think. So analyzing them correctly is a major function of critical thinking. One must use reasoning to judge the validity of any information or its source to make sure that the decision based on that information is correct.
3) Coping and Self-Management Skills: The third important category of life skills is coping and self management skills. Many a times, one comes across problems that one is unable to solve through problem solving techniques. Problems such as loss of a loved one are difficult to tackle. Sometimes one feels emotionally drained out. The feeling that one has no control over ones life reduces self-esteem. In such situations, one generally feels the loss of morale and vigor. If a person is not consciously aware of his lack of confidence, he will not seek help and drift on in life. So, confidence building has to be systematically taught at a young age.
Skills for increasing one’s Locus of Control– Let’s consider for e.g. the case of 24 year old Muna Ali Hirsi in Somalia. She admits that she was ‘very shy’. She recalls, “Even in school, I could not participate. I would never walk to the market alone and had to cover myself completely. I could not speak. I did not have confidence about myself.”
Hirsi participated in a UNGEI and UNICEF sponsored two-week training session in life-skills based education in Hargeisa, Somaliland. After this training, she feels more confident than ever. “I can even speak on national TV,” she says. “I can raise awareness and speak about my opinions.”
What is it that helped young Muna Ali Hirsi to overcome her hesitation and fear of public speaking? Surely one cannot develop such talents overnight. The life-skills based training sessions that she attended for two weeks changed her life completely. They developed her skills in self-awareness, problem solving, interpersonal relations, leadership, decision-making, effective communication and coping with difficult situations.
Today Muna Ali Hirsi works as a life-skills based education mentor and conducts study-circle speak out sessions. She says, “I want to teach other young people, especially girls, to be confident…to participate in family and country decisions. The community has socialized girls not to demand for their rights to education [and] participation. Through the study circle speak-out sessions, I have learned it’s OK to speak out for myself, and I want to help other girls to be able to do so.” (UNICEF, 2010).
In addition to being confident one also has to be highly self-aware. Self awareness means awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, rights and duties, values and attitudes, opportunities and threats and also one’s influences on others. Once a person is self-aware, he can exploit his strengths and cope with his weaknesses. So accurate knowledge of who we are can help us to develop those skills in which we lack. Lack of self-awareness triggers other problems as well. If we are not aware of our weakness, we will not be able to determine the causes behind our failure. This will result in lack of motivation. If a person overestimates his strengths, he/she will set unrealistic goals, again resulting in failure and frustration. Thus his goal setting skills will be affected. Also if one is aware about one’s strengths, one can endeavour to choose a vocation that will maximally utilize his/her strengths, thus he/she will be happy doing the job and will be less stressful. Thus, self-awareness skills are the stepping stones to developing other life skills.
People without goals are like ships without rudders. They drift on in life without a definite direction. Many a times they do set goals, but drop their efforts mid-way due to various reasons like boredom, frustration and moodiness. They do not follow their plan to the end to see if they are successful. Thus, they can never evaluate the success of their plans. Self evaluation and monitoring is essential for the success of one’s efforts. However, many people lose focus on the goal before they reach the evaluation stage. Many people set goals but drop-out mid way because they cannot devote time to the achievement of their goals. Often, this is just an excuse for people who are not determined enough to pursue their goals. In order to meet the demands of one’s goal, one has to manage time effectively
Skills for managing feelings— “Anybody can become angry – that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”
– Aristotle.
When one fails to meet goals, it is natural to feel frustrated and angry. Everyone has felt extremely angry at some or the other point in their life. However, some people do not seem to be able to cope with their anger in a desired manner. They vent out their frustration on others, which not only spoils their relationships but also hurt them in the long run. However, with a little training and practice, it is easy to manage your anger successfully.
There are various techniques available for coping with anger. Anger is a defensive response to a situation that has gone wrong, or a reaction to something that has been said. Since it is a response, the person responding has the power to control it. One must not vent his anger out on people or objects. It’s easier to buy a punching bag instead. One must not tackle the problem situation when angry. It’s very important to calm oneself down first and then come back to the situation and handle it in a better frame of mind.
Another situation where coping skills are required is when dealing with grief and anxiety. Grief is a natural reaction to loss. It can be felt in different situations. For e.g., loss of a job, death of a pet, a relationship break up or serious illness or death of a loved one. Such situations may crop up at any stage in one’s life.
In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross introduced the “five stages of grief”. She studied the feelings of patients facing terminal illness and identified the five stages they went through. The first stage was Denial. The patients could not believe that the disease was happening to them. Next they experienced extreme anger. They tried in vain to find a cause as to why ‘they’ were the victims. They attempted to pin the blame on someone or something. Next, they experienced the bargaining stage when they requested the doctors to cure them and offered huge money in return, or they pleaded with God for a miracle and in return assured that they will not sin. The next stage of depression was the worst phase when they were clouded with utter helplessness with their situation. They remained listless and unmotivated to do anything. The final stage was of acceptance when they realized completely the futility of everything and accepted their disease. They then attempted to live whatever little life they had with dignity and completeness. (helpguide.org)
This study elaborates the mental processes involved in coping with grief. It demonstrates the natural mechanisms that our brain has in place to effectively deal with loss. However, for some people, it is difficult to reach the final stage of acceptance. They might get stuck in the second stage of anger or the fourth stage of depression. Thus, they need help with grief management skills.
In order to help people deal with loss it is important to counsel them with empathy, however without sounding too patronizing. The approach is to just give a shoulder to cry on without offering any advice, because any advice will not work until the person reaches the acceptance stage.
Counseling should be based on the intensity of grief. Counseling for the loss of a job would require less time than that required by terror or rape victims. The reason is simple. A job loss situation requires only the demonstration of the possibility of a new job opportunity. However, in cases of traumatic situations related to terror or physical abuse, there are other emotional issues to deal with before one can even tackle the root issue.
Skills for managing stress—Stress is a major de-motivating factor for a lot of youngsters. Society places a lot of emphasis on success. There is stiff competition in every arena of life. Be it academics or jobs, one is expected to be always on the top. This pressure from society and peers results in burn out. There are many examples of people leaving top corporate jobs to lead simple rural lives. This is because lifestyles in urban cities have become extremely stressful. However, not everyone can leave their lifestyles just because stress is eating them inside out. On the other hand continuous stress and burn out may result in many health problems like fatigue and cardio-vascular diseases. A golden mean is to combat stress effectively.
In today’s world everyone is extremely busy running after the possession of material things. While it is important to possess a certain amount of material wealth in order to enjoy life, it is certainly not the only goal of life. In order to be stress-free it is important to manage one’s time effectively.
Organizational skills are extremely important in order to manage time. Again time-management is directly related to goal-setting. Many people set goals but drop out on their efforts mid-way due to lack of time. However, if they organize themselves properly they can eventually save a lot of time and utilize that time in pursuing their goals. For e.g. a clean and well organized closet means that one will eventually spend less time in looking for things and can reach on time for work and thus will be less stressed. Thus, organizing and planning ahead can help in effective time management.
Another method of reducing stress is by adopting a positive outlook towards life. A negative thinking person will always think about his problems and will not think about their solutions. He/she will always magnify their problems and continue to be stressed about it. However, a person who thinks positively will always look for solutions. Thus finding alternative options will result in less stress.
Relief from stress is extremely important because stress affects one’s overall well being. There are various relaxation techniques to alleviate stress. One must indulge in some form of exercise every day. Exercising apart from improving fitness and flexibility releases stress-busting chemicals in the body. One must schedule some quality ‘Me’ time to indulge in one’s hobbies. This is very important to reduce the boredom caused by mundane activities. Bad habits like smoking and drinking play havoc with the body’s metabolism and in turn reduce stress-busting capacity. So they should be dropped as soon as possible. Also, one must associate with positive like-minded people. Negative people stress out not only themselves but also others around them. One can also keep a diary and pen down whatever troubles them, because once issues are on paper, they are out of one’s mind and one can sleep peacefully without worrying. One must attempt to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night and plenty of water every day in order to maintain a healthy and less stressed out life. It is easy to combat stress with a combination of efforts and determination.
These are the major life skills required to lead a peaceful and productive life. These skills are not taught overtly in schools. They are expected to be gathered through experience. However it is not possible for everyone to gather these skills through experience. The vulnerable groups in society lack the resources to learn such skills. Even for those who do have the resources, bookish knowledge in schools will not help them in translating these skills into behavior. Since these skills are at the core of human existence, concentrated efforts are needed by the governments of every country to impart education that incorporates these life-skills in their curriculum. Further, it should be ensured that these models of education reach all sections of the society. With this end in view, governments all over the world in collaboration with UNICEF have already started life skills based education in their countries. Let’s view the impact of a life skills based education on the different models of education in India.
Life skills based education (LSBE) refers to an interactive process of teaching and learning which enables learners to acquire knowledge and to develop attitudes and skills which support the adoption of healthy behaviors. Since we live in a knowledge-based economy today, it is important to develop highly skilled human capital. By highly skilled human capital we mean well rounded individuals who are not only technically sound but also capable of logical reasoning. Individuals who can deal with stress and deliver results in a time-bound manner are the need of the day. Employees have to be good at communication, with a knack for negotiation and team-work. They should be able to make quick decisions and be able to cope quickly with personal losses. Hence, there is a need to implement LSBE in primary and higher education as well as technical and continuing education.
Life Skills approach to technical and continuing education in India.
Technical and continuing education in India comprises of three important divisions. They are:
1) Professional Education
2) Adult Education
3) Technical /Vocational Education
Let us evaluate the role of Life Skills Based Education in each of these areas.
1) Professional Education: Professional education in India is generally categorized in two streams (a) Engineering and Medical education after class XII and (b) Teacher Education, Management Education and Law Education after graduation. Most of the higher education courses fall in these categories.
(a) Engineering and Medical education after class XII: – India boasts of top quality engineering colleges like the IITs and the IIMs. These are government aided organizations. There are other technology and B-schools that are not aided and run on capitation fee system. These are out of reach for common middle class people. There exist some serious issues regarding the quality of education imparted. There is an unprecedented growth in private institutions of learning. These are mostly ‘for profit’ organizations where hopeful candidates are lured with the promise of ‘100 % placements’. Nothing is said about the quality of these placements. So after three years of working hard, the candidates pass out of these institutions with jobs that offer salaries ranging from eight to twenty thousand rupees, something which they could have achieved in less time and money. The education system in India be it in high class institutes of technology or private colleges is highly rote-oriented where scoring marks and getting a good job is the only goal in view. No one encourages originality and creativity. However, history has seen visionaries who preferred risking their university education in order to build dream enterprises.
Let us consider the example of Bill Gates, who dropped out of Harvard in his junior year to start the biggest software giant known to us-Microsoft Corporation. Today he is the biggest philanthropist in the world and the second richest man in the world because he had in him what a university education could not provide him with. He had the entrepreneurial skills and the life skills required to succeed.
This is not to say that all university education is meaningless; but the tendency of people in India to equate a B-school education with intelligence and success is wrong. The impressive numbers of universities and private institutions are churning graduates every year but research has indicated that 90% of them are not capable of performing at their jobs. In Japan, there are 110 teachers for every 1000 students in engineering, medical and other fields. Germany has 76 teachers for every 1000 students, America has 65, South Korea has 46 and China has 30. But in India there are only 3 teachers for a batch of 1000 students. The dearth of work-oriented education forces almost 2.5 lakh students to go abroad in search of quality education. (Indiabuzzing.com)
All said and done, India does have a strong legacy of educational institutions. The first global university was at Takshshila in India. Keeping such a glorious past in mind, the government must work towards bringing back the golden days of education in India. Mindsets cannot be changed overnight. However, there is a need of developing a mindset of ‘Life-long learning’ and discourage the ‘study to get a job’ mentality. Getting a job is of course important but more important is developing the capability of handling a job. Improving the employability of the students must be the focus of education and fortunately India has started taking baby steps towards this.
Another major concern that is not much discussed is the focus of all post-secondary educational reforms on the technology and management courses. Absolutely no reforms have been made in the field of humanities and social sciences. In spite of the fact that a majority of students still do enroll in humanities and social sciences, least importance has always been given to these courses when it comes to foreign collaborations and reforms. It is interesting to note that technology and management are the most profitable ventures for private investors looking to invest in educational institutions.
2) Adult education: – Adult education in India refers to the process of teaching those adults who have lost out on the opportunity of learning at a younger age. Thus it is a community based program meant for imparting a basic level of functional literacy to adults.

The government of India has undertaken various initiatives in the past to upgrade the quality of adult education. For e.g. Social Education, Gram Shikshan Mohim, Farmers’ Functional Literacy project, Non-Formal Education, Polyvalent Adult Education Centres, Functional Literacy for Adult Women, Rural Functional Literacy Project, State Adult Education Programmes etc. Many of these programs have been fairly successful in imparting functional literacy to adults.

The Education Commission appointed in 1964-66 planned to give a boost to Adult Education both through “selective” as well as “mass approach”. It also stressed on the “active involvement of teachers and students and a wider use of media for the literacy programmes” (education.nic.in). In 1978, the first nation-wide attempt to eradicate adult illiteracy was made in the form of the National Adult Education Programme. It ‘s main objective was to educate 100 million non-literate persons in the age group of 15-35 years within a time frame of five years. For the first time, a two pronged approach was used. Two approaches of education namely; functional awareness and social awareness were introduced. Functional awareness training consisted of three components namely, skills of reading, writing and arithmetic and it focused on developing those skills which were required to utilize and apply skills with a view to promote efficiency of the neo-literate. The social awareness component aimed at knowing, understanding and taking action on issues which affect the individual, community and society. As we see, the social awareness component is very close to the idea of LSBE in the sense that it involved tackling challenges of everyday life. However the National Adult Education Programme could not achieve substantial success beyond a point due to a lot of factors like lack of governmental support, poor learning environments, poor quality of trainers etc.

The National Literacy Mission (NLM) was launched on 5th May 1988. It achieved a real breakthrough in mass literacy campaigning. The NLM did focus on literacy however, not as an end in itself but as the beginning of ‘Life-long learning’ in the form of Continuing Education. Continuing Education will provide a continuum for the total literacy campaigns. Since Literacy is not the only aim of the NLM, effective methods for providing life skills through Continuing Education can be made to ensure that the neo-literates who have only functional reading and writing abilities do not go back to being illiterate.

Another initiative, the Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS) is unique in its focus on the education of poor, illiterates, neo-literates and the under-privileged sections of the society. Earlier known as the Shramik Vidyapeeth, the various JSS not only provide technical and vocational education at a low cost but also provide ‘Life Enrichment Education’ (LEE). Today, the Total Literacy Campaigns (TLC), the Post Literacy Programme (PLP), and the Continuing Education Programme have been amalgamated into one programme known as Life long Education and Awareness Programmes (LEAP). Under the LEAP, Life Skills Based Education is provided to adults with a focus on work oriented skills like communication skills, problem solving skills, entrepreneurial skills etc. Awareness programmes to discuss issues like RTI, REGP, NHRM, HIV/AIDS etc are conducted alongside vocational skills training like candle-making, type-writing courses, basic computer courses etc. Thus LEAP is contributing majorly to the process of creating employable adults who can are capable of applying life skills. (education.nic.in)
“Today, there are 221 Jan Shikshan Sansthans in India and they are supposed to act as district level resource support agencies especially in regard to organization of vocational training and skill development programmes for the neo-literates and other target groups of the Continuing Education Programme.” (National Literacy Mission.nic.in).” Life Skills based Education or in other words, Life enrichment education has done wonders in the field adult of education, by empowering adults, especially women, for leading more productive, self-aware lives. LSBE through adult education has resulted in a huge social transformation, especially in rural areas. Rural neo-literates have now recognized the power of education. They are more confident about making a livelihood using the acquired skills. Earlier they would ask questions like ‘what will we do with education at this age?’ However, they have now understood the importance of life skills and work-related vocational training and are keen to learn without thinking about age as a barrier. Unlike before, they are now keen on educating their children. “Study findings in India show that enrolment of boys and girls in the age group 5-15 years is significantly higher in neo-literate households as compared to children in illiterate households. 2 out of 3 boys in neo-literate households are enrolled in schools compared to 3 out of 4 in participant households. In the case of girls this difference is even more enhanced – 58% for non-participants; 72% for participants.” (National Literacy Mission.nic.in). The status of women has improved considerably. This can be illustrated from the following case study.
“In 1987, the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA) initiated a comprehensive, life skills development program entitled Better Life Options (BLP) to empower out-of-school young women, ages 12 to 20 in developing countries. BLP’s components include:
• Referring young women to age-appropriate reproductive health services
• Building individual skills through education (both formal and non-formal and including reproductive health education)
• Promoting young women’s livelihood through vocational training, recreation, etc.
• Mobilizing and empowering individuals, families, and communities in order to reach, influence, and involve everyone to become a part of the solution.
In a recent assessment of CEDPA/India’s BLP in one peri-urban and two rural areas, evaluators surveyed 1,693 married and unmarried young women between the ages of 16 and 25, including 858 non-participating controls and 835 BLP alumnae who completed the program between 1996 and 1999. The study found significant outcome differences between controls and alumnae in terms of educational attainment, vocational skills, economic empowerment, autonomy, and self-confidence. With regard to reproductive health, married alumnae+ were more likely than controls to have married at age 18 or older and to have participated in selecting their husband. Alumnae showed increased knowledge of contraception and reported increased use of contraceptives and communication about family planning with the husband. In particular, alumnae reported more use of birth control pills and condoms than did controls. Child survival and health-seeking behavior rates were also higher among married alumnae than among married controls. Finally, evaluators analyzed HIV/AIDS awareness separately for married and unmarried young women. BLP alumnae, married and unmarried, were significantly more aware than controls of HIV and effective ways of preventing HIV infection.” (advocatesforyouth.org)
As we see, confidence among women educated in the Life skills based mode have proved better at confidence and self awareness. Thus, we see that a life skills based holistic approach to education has succeeded in transforming education related inequities among adults who needed a second chance in learning.
3) Vocational/Technical Education:- Vocational education refers to the education required to perform tasks related to a particular vocation. For e.g. a typist must know how to type. A plumber must have the technical know-how of plumbing. Vocational skills prepare a person for a set of activities used in a particular profession. Vocational education is a form of education in which people are provided with practical skills which will allow them to engage in careers which will involve manual or practical abilities. Hence vocational education is also known as technical education. A more comprehensive definition of vocational education is provided by UNEVOC—Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is concerned with the acquisition of knowledge and skills for the world of work.

Engineering or Management have become favorite choices of study among students today. This is because a certain level of prestige comes with engineering or a B-school degree. However, study has in fact shown that even after three year of degree training, many youngsters still do not have any specific marketable skills apart from theoretical conceptual knowledge. Many do not know how to translate their theoretical knowledge into work-related behavior. This is because the theories they learn at college have long become obsolete and the corporate world uses new-age technologies which are absolutely unrelated to what one learns in college. Hence, there is a huge skill gap among candidates. Research has proven that out of all the graduates that are being churned out of our educational institutes every year, not even 10 % are employable and have to be given additional training even after they have a degree.
Providing vocational education seems to be a logical and sensible alternative for developing the potentials of technically sound youth who want to start earning immediately after the course and not wait for a three year degree that gives only theoretical knowledge and no practical inputs.
“The EFA Monitoring report published in 2009 by UNESCO reveals, efforts made by developing countries tend to concentrate on universal primary education and literacy but do not pay sufficient attention to skills training for youth and adults.” (UNESCO, 2009). This attitude of governments will soon bring a situation where there are scores of educated youth without any marketable skills. Thus, it imperative now to focus on job-oriented education that reaches the most vulnerable sections of society namely, under-privileged, disabled and poor youth, women, youth belonging to ethnic minorities.
Let us review a few measures undertaken by the government of India in order to promote vocational education in India. In India, the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) oversees the imparting of vocational education. In 1988, the centrally sponsored scheme called ‘Vocationalisation of Secondary Education’ was launched and incorporated within its wings several vocational courses like “dairying, farm machinery and equipment (agriculture), accounting and auditing (business and commerce), electrical technology, air conditioning and refrigeration (engineering and technology), X-Ray technician, health care and beauty culture (health and para medical) and preservation of fruits and vegetables, food services and management (home sciences and humanities).” However, vocational training has another meaning in India. For students who drop out of school for various reasons between 8-12 grades are provided with technical skills in various fields by Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and Industrial Training centers (ITCs) and they are supervised by the Directorate-General of employment and Training which comes under the purview of the Ministry of Labor and Employment. (Merinews.com).
However, political will and commitment is crucial for the success of endeavors of such huge scale. Keeping this view in mind, in 1950, the DGET established about 50 ITIs in various parts of the country. on Oct 2007 in the Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given its approval for up gradation of 300 ITIs at a cost of 774.5 Core Rupees. However, more concentrated efforts are required for the development of non-formal vocational training as the number of youth who cannot attend formal college due to financial constraints is huge. It is important to bring forward a comprehensive system of education through vocational education for these youth; because it is only through vocational education that such youth can be initiated in life skills. Since these youth normally belong to a lower socio-economic background and cannot afford formal education, there is a road block to their life-long learning. Vocational education can help fill the gap for them. Life-skills Based Education models can be introduced to them only through vocational education. Life-skills based education will help build confidence among these youth. This confidence will in turn help them in their initiation towards gainful employment or self-employment, thus creating a bridge between skill and man-power.

Issues and Concerns of The Youth in India.

October 30, 2014, 3:39 pm

By: Dr.Athiqul H. Laskarimg02

India has entered its 62nd year of Independence this year. As we look back, we experience myriad emotions. We experience hope when we think about how the ‘Green Revolution’ changed our lives. We feel bitterness at the thought of the Indo-china and Indo-Pakistan wars. We dance with jubilation at the mention of the 1984 Cricket World-Cup win. We fall into an abyss of sadness when we think about the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. It’s time for a reality check now. In spite of an astounding economical growth, we are still considered a third world country. There is wide spread economic disparity amongst the various classes. It’s time to study what could bring the youth of India together in spite of their differences. It’s time we stop bickering we pay attention to where we stand internationally. We need to look at what is it really that’s stopping us from becoming the world’s best economy, the world’s best culture, and above all the world’s best country. This paper studies the emerging issues of today’s Indian Youth and makes an attempt to suggest solutions to address these issues. Solutions, which if properly implemented could go a long way in placing India on the highest pedestal of glory and success.

INTRODUCTION
India, with 29 states, 7 union territories and a population of 1.15 billion people (projected for 2011 census) is one of the largest countries in the world. When we say ‘largest’, it’s not in terms of land size but in terms of its human resources. We are second only to China in terms of population and if experts are to be believed, we will soon beat China and be the ‘numero uno’ in population growth. The 1961 census recorded 1,652 different languages and dialects in India (www.nationsencyclopedia.com, 2010). As of today the Indian constitution recognizes 22 different languages (www.education.nic.in). India is home to many religions like Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism. These are further divided into castes and sub-castes. With such diversity, one would have thought that cultural fights could have killed Indians a long time back. However, there is something in the mindset of all Indians that makes them highly tolerant of each other’s culture. Sure, there have been skirmishes, fights and wars in the name of language and religion. However, at the end of it all, Indians have learnt to live with each other. It is this ‘Unity in Diversity’ that makes Indians a unique lot capable of sustaining multiculturalism and this is how India has come to be what it is today-a melting pot of diverse cultures and mind-sets. With this background in mind, let us now examine those aspects of India that will prove key factors in helping India maintain sustainable growth in every sphere of life. . Long before tele-communications could make the world a ‘global village’ we Indians believed in the concept of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’ (which literally means that the entire world is one family). India is a great land and the mother of spirituality and many great religions of the world. However, this reputation can help only as far as cultural distinction is concerned. We now need to look beyond cultural distinctions and establish ourselves as a nation believing in science, technology and rational thought. Let us look at some problem areas that are obstacles in our path to progress.
What drives a nation’s economy? There can be many answers and as many different perspectives as the answers. One might say it’s the scientific progress of a country that stimulates its economic growth. Some might find the salvation of a country in its industrial growth. Actually it’s all this and much more. It’s the growth and development of its human resources that actually determines the future of a country. Indian youth population is as high as 315 million (aged 10-24 years- according to the WHO definition of young people) and this is almost 30 % of our population. The census of 2001 found that India has an estimated 41.05 % of the population between the age-group 13 to 35 years. With such huge and burgeoning youth population India is definitely all set to be the world’s largest youth population.
However, it’s not enough to grow in terms of size. The Indian youth today need to grow in all fields- educationally, socially, and spiritually in order to compete with the world. Today, thanks to various government initiatives like ‘Sarva Shikshan Abhiyaan’ and the ‘Right to Education Act’ that was recently passed by the government of India, free and compulsory education is the right of every young individual in India. However, how many of the children in India are actually able to exercise this right is a matter of individual study. Take the case of Madhukar Lobhi (Mumbai Mirror, 2010). Madhukar has cleared his SSC exams this year with 52% marks. We might not find anything exemplary in it. With many students in the city scoring 90+ percentages, Madhukar’s 52% looks like a drop in the ocean. However, let’s compare his situation with students in the city. However shocking it might seem to us, but the fact is that Madhukar is the only person from his village who has cleared the SSC exams. Like many children from his village, he walked 11 kms everyday to reach school. With absolute poverty knocking through one’s door every day, the only thing a person can think of is to drop out of school and start working on the farms to support one’s family. This is what most students in Madhukar’s village do. With no electricity for almost 14 hours every day, we can only imagine, but never truly comprehend his plight and his tremendous perseverance.
POVERTY
Wide-spread poverty is one of the main issues that the youth of today struggle with. “According to the World Bank’s estimates on poverty based on 2005 data, India has more than 456 million people, 41.6% of its population, living below the International poverty line of $1.25 a day! The World bank further estimates that 33% of the global poor now reside in India.” (anonlineindia.com). Urban India is an irony of sorts with slums surviving alongside high-rise buildings. On one hand the rural poor have to walk miles to reach school, the urban poor children generally are immediately absorbed in child labour as soon as they grow a little older. They work as tea-shop waiters or in worst cases start begging at signals. With such a basic lack of education for such a huge poor population, what future can we envision for our country? The educated people hold white-collar jobs and learn to look down upon these poor children. Why can’t these people find work and live a dignified life instead of begging is the question most of us would ask. Well, they can’t find dignified work because they are less educated and they can’t educate their children because they are poor and they can’t afford education. Instead they prefer the child working and being ‘productive’.
Many poor people from the villages migrate to the big cities in search of employment. However, well-paying jobs always go to highly educated youngsters. The poor youth from the villages who have hardly completed matriculation suddenly find themselves out of place. They have to make-do with manual labour or temporary jobs and survive in slum hutments. The solution for this problem lies in equitable distribution of education. The government should make schools more accessible to the rural poor so that more and more of them can be motivated for education. Simple steps like providing free transport to school students to and fro from their schools can achieve milestones. The ‘Mid-day Meal’ schemes are already doing wonders. If not education, then at least the lure of a free meal and less efforts in reaching schools can motivate rural children to keep their education going. The government should appoint more and more teachers in the rural areas, probably paying them higher salaries to keep them at their jobs. Corruption free inspections of the rural schools should be undertaken on a regular basis to ensure quality education. Job creation at the rural levels should be encouraged so that migration to cities can be curbed. If jobs are available in or near the villages then none of the villagers would leave the natural beauty of their villages to slog in filthy slum filled cities.

UNEMPLOYMENT
The NSSO has defined ‘work’ or ‘gainful’ activity as the activity pursued for pay, profit or family gain or in other words, the activity which adds value to the national product. However this definition does not take into account the standard of living values. For e.g. a person who works as a peon in a government office gets a salary of Rs.3000 and supports a family of three. According to the definition, he is not unemployed. He is gainfully employed because he draws a salary. His activity definitely adds to the national product through the service he provides and the professional taxes on his pay. He spends Rs. 1500 (50% of his pay) on his house rent. (He doesn’t even own a house, he is just paying rent, which in economic terms is money not invested but lost forever. Nevertheless it buys him a one room space which he can call his house for another month.) He spends another Rs. 500 on his only son’s education in a government run school. (He cannot afford sending his son in a private school where the fees would exceed even his annual income.) In the remaining Rs. 1000, he buys meager provisions and ration for his family. There is no need to mention any savings. How gainful is his employment? But according to the definition he is not unemployed. There is no dearth of such examples. Unemployment or under-employment is rampant not only in villages but also in cities. According to the CIA World Fact book, (Central Intelligence Agency-United States of America), in India in 2009 unemployment was growing at a rate of almost 10.7%. Unemployment creates a sense of uselessness and wasted energy and has adverse psychological repercussions. Lack of education or employment might lead them to take a short-cut path earn riches. This is a huge risk for the social health of the society. Unemployment related suicide and drug abuse is a reality today. With a database of over two million people from the 1991 Census, they found that “men and women aged 25 to 44 years, and men aged 45 to 64 who were unemployed were two to three times as likely to commit suicide as their employed peers.” (BBC NEWS, 2003). Unfortunately educated youth who have done their graduation but not completed any specialization or post-graduation are the worst affected because, nowadays, post-graduation is the new graduation. Affluent families can afford to send their kids abroad for studies so the not –so affluent have to complete post-graduation as well to stand a chance in the highly competitive job market. Those who cannot do so have to settle for less paying jobs. It’s frustrating because there is no dignity of labour in India. Generally, one is respected in the society only if he has white collar-well-paying job and everything else is below standard and a second option. Girls’ families look for the most well-paid company executive men as grooms for their daughters. It is of no concern to them that this top-executive might have to work 15 hours a day for his high pay –package and have no time for his family.
SOCIAL EVILS
As if poverty and unemployment were not enough, social problems like religious fanaticism, superstitions, and casteism, dowry, education and job pressures add fuel to the fire of youth issues. In spite of the ‘Unity in Diversity’, India is still a much closed culture encouraging society.
Hindus and Muslims can be neighbours and live happily for years together. However if a boy from the Muslim family wants to marry a girl from the neighbouring Hindu family, all hell breaks loose and swords are drawn out. Many Indians still follow the age-old practice of matching horoscopes of the prospective bride and the groom before finalizing the marriage. This superstitious belief shockingly gives more importance to a piece of paper based on the birth time and place of an individual rather than on his character and capabilities. These beliefs have nothing to do with education; of course, uneducated people absolutely resort to it. In fact well-educated people from well-to-do families resort to such mindless traditions in their personal lives. The recent example of the suicide of a 27 year old girl illustrates this point well. Ritu, a teacher at a private B.ed college allegedly hanged herself when her marriage with Siddharth Sarpal (son of Pradeep kumar Sarpal-Inspector General of Police-law and order) was opposed by the IG on the grounds that their horoscopes did not match. The girl and the boy had known each other for many years and had in fact studied together. (Times of India -Sourced from PTI, 2010) Instances like these make us think as to what difference has education made in the lives of such people. For education to truly make an impact, it needs to cultivate a rational thinking mind. Probably the IG reached such a high post only by clearing exams based on academic merit and did not really understand that true education eradicates all superstitions.
Caste plays a major role in everything that we do. For proof we need to skim through matrimonial ads of newspapers and we can understand it. There are separate sections for each religion, caste and sub-caste. The government of India has reservations in place everywhere for the scheduled castes, tribes and the backward communities. However, the rich from the scheduled castes take advantage of such schemes and become richer. The student from the open category with 80 % might not get even a paid admission in a medical college but a scheduled caste student from an affluent family will get a paid seat with very little effort, only on the basis of his caste. Economically these students might have got the same advantages; both of them might have had access to the same school and coaching classes, the same educational material etc. Such reverse discrimination works against merit, is very harmful to the psyche of the youngsters and might fill them with alienation and angst towards the government. The government should provide reservations only to economically backward classes and thus give impetus to the creation of a caste-less society. Caste becomes a major hindrance when it comes to marriages. Even today, arranged marriage is a social norm and any tendency to deviate from this norm is dealt with severely by the families of the youngsters. One might argue that it is not so evident in cities. However, even in cities, parents try to dissuade children from marrying outside their caste. In villages the situation is worse. We often hear newspaper reports of honour killing by family members where the girl and the boy are killed by their own relatives for marrying outside their caste. The freedom to choose one’s life partners is almost nil in India and is restricted only to an educated few. The Asha Saini case is one of the most recent examples of so-called honour killing and it happened in Delhi, the capital of India and not in some remote village. Asha’s father Suraj Kumar Saini and her uncle Om Prakash, who allegedly killed Asha and her boyfriend, have no regrets for killing them. Yogesh was a cab driver and more importantly, was from a different caste (Anand, 2010). A 23 yr old journalist, Nirupama Pathak, who was a Brahmin by caste, was allegedly killed by her mother for wanting to marry a colleague from a different caste (Kayastha). (NDTV.com, 2010) The concept of ‘Gotra’ in Hindus is an ancient one. It means that people belonging to the same ‘Gotra’ or sub-caste are from the same ancestral lineage and should not marry amongst each other as they are equal to siblings. However, with population growth and mingling of different ‘Gotras’ over time this concept of same ancestral lineage is rendered meaningless. Recently, the Khap Panchayats or the local village caste panchayats consisting of a few judges who are not even properly educated created a furore by asking the High court to put a ban on same gotra marriages. The High Court took a progressive step by dismissing this petition. Even the Supreme Court dismissed a PIL regarding the same. However, even politicians fear that opposing such Khap Panchayats could result in a loss of their vote-banks and hence do not take a stance. The Haryana CM Mr. Bhupinder Singh Hooda even went ahead and supported the Khap Panchayats as legitimate informal organizations comparing them with NGOs. The youth in India have very little to expect from such superstitious organizations that are hell-bent on establishing their terror and such policy-makers who can think about nothing but their power and pelf.
Dowry as a social menace is one of the most evil of all the social issues. According to an article in Time magazine, deaths in India related to dowry demands have increased 15-fold since the mid-1980s from 400 a year to around 5,800 a year by the middle of the 1990s. (Hitchcock, 2001). In India, for example, more than 5,000 brides die annually because their dowries are considered insufficient, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). A newly-wed bride is viewed as a means to enrich the family. The bride’s family is harassed to pay up or witness their daughter being harassed. Again, this is rarely solved through education. Even well-educated men and their families demand hefty dowries. In fact the more educated the boy is, the more precious he is in the marriage market. The root of this issue lies in the mentality that views women as commodities. Such treatment to women is one of the reasons why poor parents want to kill baby-girls. They view girls as burdens who will take away their earnings in the form of dowry. So, many women in India face discrimination before marriage and harassment after marriage. When well-educated high-class people are involved in dowry cases they normally have the capacity to bribe the police and get away with it. The police turn a blind eye to cases of dowry death, especially when politicians or bureaucrats are involved. Sometimes, even NGOs are hand-in-gloves with the police and the victim’s in-laws so that even if the woman approaches them for help they find means of harassing her. Youth has an important role in putting an end to this menace. Recently, Rani, a bride-to be, performed a sting operation on a prospective groom’s family demanding dowry and released their videos in the media. The police arrested Nikhilesh Pathak, the groom and his father for perpetuating this crime. Rani’s family has since then been inundated with calls for marriage proposals by men who admired her courage. So all hope is not lost. However Nikhilesh Pathak who is out on bail is shameless enough to threaten legal action against Rani and her family (Indiatoday.com, 2010). Many among today’s youth are responsible and sensible enough to support the courage of women like Rani. However, there are a few like Mr. Pathak, who still sell themselves. The Indian youth both men and women today need to take a sensible stance against dowry. Any amount of legislation cannot remedy a social evil that is deeply entrenched in the mindset of the society. Rani was lucky to have been educated enough to understand that technology can help her. Her courage was born out of her education. A majority of educated as well as uneducated women both in rural and urban areas however steer clear of such courageous deeds due to fear of social ostracism.
Education, if not the solution is at least a key to the solution of a majority of social problems. But, our present education system is completely inadequate when it comes to actual education. Of course, every year we hear of students clearing the SSC and HSC with flying colors. However that does not mean that these students are superior morally and spiritually. Many of them follow the cram and reproduce technique, and forget about most of the topics apart from the ones that interest them, after the exam is over. This is not learning. This is mugging up. With every student gunning for the merit list, students are under a lot of pressure from over-expecting parents, teachers and peers. If they cannot score the required percentage to enter a particular stream (in India, medical or engineering), they are blamed for not working hard enough. Affluent parents often feel that because they have provided every facility and luxury to their child, the child has a responsibility to live up to their expectations and excel in the field that the parents deem prestigious, often even at the cost of the child’s likings and interests. Unrealistic expectations from parents often push students to the brink and frustration and fear of failure may lead them to fatalistic tendencies like drug abuse and even suicide. The inability to find an appropriate job after studying well is another reason why many graduates commit suicide. In 2008, around 2730 persons committed suicide due to failure in examinations, 3006 because of drug abuse and 2080 due to unemployment (National Crime Records Bureau, 2008). These are the officially reported and registered cases. The number would definitely be higher than this, what with unreported and undocumented cases and many cases being incorrectly documented as accidental deaths and missing persons. Our education minister Mr. Kapil Sibal’s steps towards scraping the merit list and introducing the grading system might go a long way in reducing exam stress among students however, it is essential to educate parents about realistic expectations from kids.
THE ROLE OF MEDIA
All said and done, today’s generation, highly influenced by media is rightly called the MTV generation. They want to wear the best and branded clothes that are endorsed by Shahrukh Khan on TV. They want to use high end gadgets like expensive mobiles and I-pods. A mobile phone is no longer a means of communication but a status symbol. The more high-end model you have, the more your status amongst your peers. Middle –Class families today try to provide their children with all the facilities that they could not get as children. This desire often leads to a tendency to satisfy all demands that the children make. While providing important amenities to one’s child is necessary, non-discretionary supply to all unnecessary demands will eventually create complacency in a child’s mind. After liberalization, a lot of MNCs came to India. They created huge employment possibilities in the urban sectors increasing disposable incomes. Since, in most cases, both the parents work and have less time for the children they compensate for the time by expressing their love in the form of material things that the children demand after seeing TV ads. Young working class people believe in spending more and more on luxury and status items.
However, on one hand we can see this global shining India and on the other hand we see gross poverty and homelessness. Nearly 38% of India’s population or approximately 380 million people in India are poor (azadindia.org, 2010). When the young children of these below poverty line children experience the economic disparity around them, they find it difficult to understand as to why they cannot afford those things that many others can. Such thought in their young minds create a desire to be rich by hook or by crook. They want to buy expensive products that rich or middle class children buy. Often this thinking leads uneducated poor youth to join the criminal world. Gangsters operate their business from abroad with the help of such delinquent youngsters. Statistics show that the share of the crimes committed by juveniles of total IPC crimes committed was around 1.1% (National Crime Records Bureau, 2007). More and more youngsters are attracted towards crime as a short-cut and a quick get rich method. Anti-social elements and terrorist and fundamentalist and anti-government organizations like the Naxals, the Maoists etc. make use of such alienated youth to further their vested interests. The government of India has to take substantial steps beyond policies and paper-work to ensure that rural and under-privileged people get a fair share of employment and income for their hard work and do not have to resort to aggression and violence for their rights. Otherwise such groups might succeed in their mission of defeating democracy and establishing Marxism.
Many youngsters today are so alienated with the social injustice around them that they lose themselves to fatalistic tendencies like drug abuse and wanton sexual behaviour. Thus, they endanger their lives by exposing themselves to health hazards and sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS. In addition to that, many a times drug usage and non-discretionary sexual behaviour is glorified in the media, thus encouraging youngsters. In India alone there are about 2.5 million HIV+ individuals. The media has to play a responsible role as far as AIDS education is concerned. Students at school and college levels should be given special education regarding appropriate sexual education.
It’s not only the Indian youth that face these issues. Everywhere else in the world, the youth have to tackle problems related to economic disparity, unemployment, poverty and other social evils. Let’s take for e.g. the so-called most developed country of the world- The United States of America. According to a recent study conducted by Professor Emmanuel Saez of the California University, income inequality is at an all time high in the U.S. According to Seaz, in 2007, “the top .01 % of American earners took home 6 % of total U.S. wages-a figure that has nearly doubled since 2000.” (Saez, 2009). “The average CEO pay is 344 times the pay of an average U.S. worker” (Institute for Policy Studies, 2008). Many youngsters who take loans for college education do not end-up graduating which leaves them in a further financial mess. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed in 2000 that one in three Americans drops out of college, whereas in the 1960s only one in five dropped out. To lower the dropout rates, president Obama has committed $3.5 billion to the transformation of non-performing schools. Poverty as a global issue has not spared the U.S. as well. According to the American Community Survey, the estimated percentage of people below the poverty line in 2008 was 13.2 percent, increasing from 13 % in 2007. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics placed the unemployment rate of the U.S. at 9.5 for the year 2010. However, quick legislative actions in the form of the Recovery and Reinvestment acts were undertaken by the U.S. Government. Their ambitious project aspires at saving or creating 1.2 to 2.8 million jobs by September 2010. The government wants to beat poverty by creating more and more jobs. Fortunately, unlike India, there is dignity of labour in India and a sweeper is not looked down on account of his profession.
The United States has an equal share of social evils like violence against women, prostitution, Sexually transmitted diseases etc. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2005, 1181women were murdered by an intimate partner. That’s an average of three women per day. The 2006 CDC data, (Center for disease control and prevention) shows that approximately 1.2 million people living in the U.S. have AIDS and around 56,300 new cases are reported every year. These statistics are no doubt alarming. Similar somewhat to the caste system in India, the United States has its home-grown method of discrimination on the basis of colour (apartheid). Though illegal, it is practiced covertly in many parts, especially the southern ones, of the United States.
Thus we conclude that youth related global issues of poverty, unemployment, alienation, STDs are common in most developed as well as undeveloped countries. What is different is the way each of these countries tackle them. Youth everywhere is an energetic force, which if given enough support can be the fore-runners of progress. What’s required is a rational and unbiased outlook and an understanding of their psyche.

Globalization And Its Impact On The Indian Youth (Emerging (promising )Issues of youth)

October 30, 2014, 3:36 pm

By: Dr. Athiqul H. Laskar

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India, as a nation, underwent tremendous change on the social, economical and cultural fronts as it stepped into the 21st century. The past decade had been eventful in terms of technological advancements, industrialization and even education. It may be said that the process of globalization has made India a bigger country and the world, a smaller place. Quite obviously, the young Indian lives in a world radically different from that his parents grew up in. This also means that the Indian youth is faced with issues and dilemmas that were unknown and unheard of in previous generations. In order to address and resolve these issues, it may help to first understand the dynamics of change at multiple levels stemming from the process of globalization.
Youth and the BPO culture (business Process outsource)
For ages, young educated Indians battled unemployment and poor wages. With international businesses and MNCs setting base on Indian soil, things took a drastic turn for the better. The job openings created by these international companies filled up that gaping chasm in the job market, much to the relief of many an employable youth. Today, even regular graduates can expect to land up a decent job provided they possess adequate communication and language skills. The BPO and IT sectors have been the primary generators of jobs in India – a boon for urban, English-speaking youth. What’s more, these jobs allow young people to earn almost twice as much as their parents and that too at a starting level. But upsides and flipsides seldom exist without each other. Most employees in these sectors are fresh graduates aged between 20 and 30 who are required to work odd hours (during US and UK work hours) in exchange of a handsome salary. This erratic schedule takes a toll on young bodies within a short period of time and health problems like obesity, insomnia, depression and chronic stress rear their ugly faces at a very early age. Reshma, who works in a Hyderabad-based call center says, “I have gained around 10 kilos in the past year since I started working. I hardly find time to cook or exercise because I come home in the morning and sleep through the day. It is difficult to catch up with old friends since their work hours are very different from mine but I cannot leave my job because I live on my own and I need the money to sustain myself in a big city like Hyderabad.” Just like Reshma, many youngsters feed off fast-food that is served in office cafeterias. Working during nights and sleeping during the day disrupts the body’s’ biological clock and confuses the system leading to a host of health issues. Some companies even offer high monetary incentives to encourage employees to work graveyard shifts. This unhealthy phenomenon breeds physical, mental and emotional problems like burnout, poor nutrition and lack of social life.
Youth and Social Media:
The latest manifestation of globalization comes in the form of social media – a phenomenon that has the world hooked; young and old alike. Social networking sites like Face-book, Orkut and Twitter are a rage among the youth though their advantages and disadvantages are still under a lot of scrutiny. These sites specifically target the young population although the number of older users is steadily on the rise. A section of the population may consider these sites an addictive waste of time but for many young Indians, it is the only medium to stay in constantly in touch with friends and family. In between academic and professional commitments, many people find it difficult to make time for personal phone calls or detailed e-mails. In such a scenario, posting a short message on a friend’s message board during work breaks seems like an ideal option. Moreover, users can update their family and friends about what is going on with their lives via status updates, photographs and videos. Social networking is a way of life for a large percentage of urban Indian youth as it helps them stay connected to the world 24/7. Says Arti, a young banking executive, “Our work schedules are so busy and weekends are the only time when we get to relax and complete pending chores at home. It used to be difficult to take time out for family but with social networking sites, it is possible to stay connected with everyone on a regular basis and keep each other updated”.
Social networking sites being a relatively new concept, young professionals occasionally jumble up professional and personal aspects of their lives leading to conflicts and complications. Recently, there have been instances of people losing their jobs because they unwittingly gave out confidential details about projects and companies on public networks and even for bad-mouthing bosses and colleagues. On the other hand, if used wisely and to effect, these networks can help find and secure suitable jobs and even promote businesses. For a global citizen it is convenient and easy to market their products and services through blogs, online advertisements, forums and e-campaigns. Job-seekers may choose to display their portfolio, hold discussions and network with like-minded people on professional sites such as LinkedIn.
Youth and Technology:
The modern day Indian is a lot more tech-savvy that his counterpart from yesteryears. Personal computers and mobile phones, which were an exclusive domain of the crème-de-la-crème of the society until a few years ago, have now managed to spill across socio-economic boundaries. India has now emerged as one of the largest user of mobile phones in the world. The availability of a source of constant communications has made life much easier for the youth of today. Many corporate professionals are now able to fulfill their professional commitments from remote locations which make working from home a feasible and much-desired option.
Information pertaining to just about anything on earth is now available at a click of a button. From health, academics and travel to finding local services, people can browse the internet and find an answer to almost anything. They can read up on news, opinions and trends and even share their own viewpoints on discussion forums. The result is a smarter and more aware generation equipped to make informed decisions.
Youth and Education Trends:
While Generation X is frequently referred to as the ‘brain-drained generation’, Generation Y is experiencing a reinforced pride in their national and ethnic identity. Now that job opportunities abound, fewer people prefer to leave home ground for the ‘Big American Dream’. The educational infrastructure in India, however, leaves much to be desired and improved upon. The paucity of seats in good colleges and the lack of standardization still force many students to move abroad for better educational opportunities. India is a powerhouse of talent when it comes to sports, music, arts and other creative fields. The youth today are aware of many such career opportunities and are confident enough to make a living out of ‘unconventional’ job profiles. The obsession for medical and technical degrees is fast waning and needless to say, this is a good sign. However, many ambitious and talented young people from conservative backgrounds still face resistance from their parents and society if they choose to walk down a less-trodden path. There was a time when young people were hardly allowed to form opinions, let alone express them or argue their point; ‘freedom of choice’ was an unpopular concept and children had to study, marry, work and behave as their parents wished them to. With a new generation of educated and socially aware parents, the Indian society is slowly but steadily inching towards liberalization and things are taking a favorable turn.
With new and rewarding career avenues opening up, the youth today face a lot less pressure for academic performance. The flipside is that the lure of plump salary packages by the BPO sector causes many young people to drop out of college and start working full-time when they could be pursuing higher education. The salaries are several times higher than what students get as pocket money from their parents and frequent raises in salaries keep them glued to the job.
Youth and Body Identity:
With the advent of globalization, media has gained a stronger foothold in the society. From politics and sports to movies and fashion, the media has the power to influence opinions, perspectives and decisions of the common man. The Indian youth is subjected to images of stick-thin models with perfect complexions and facial features. This propagates a certain ideal of beauty that is both fake and unrealistic. Impressionable youngsters are unaware of how images of these models are photo shopped and airbrushed to make them look otherworldly and perfect. In real life, models are as flawed as any of us. At present, the thinness frenzy has reached a level where a healthy teenage girl would consider herself a misfit in society if she piled on a couple of kilos. Young people who are even slightly overweight face immense pressure from their peers and are looked upon differently. Here it may be important to note that Indians are genetically very different from Caucasians and their body types are different too. Indian women inherently have rounder and curvier bodies as compared to western women who are more muscular, angular and athletic. It is not only impractical but also dangerous to try to conform to beauty standards that are not meant for your race. It is not uncommon to see teenage girls living off salads and soups and adolescent boys pumping supplements to achieve that lean, muscular look. It is an unhealthy pattern and more and more youngsters are falling prey to eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Cashing in on the youths’ vulnerability, ‘slimming clinics’ that use dubious methods for weight loss have started sprawling all over the place. Young people must understand that poor nutrition in early years can lead to lifelong hormonal balances and metabolic problems. Youth is a challenging period in life when the body needs adequate nutrition to sustain itself through a demanding academic, personal and professional life.
Indians have forever been famous for their obsession for fair skin. Until a few years ago, girls with darker or whitish complexions were looked down upon and discriminated against. Even today, an average Indian would prefer to turn a few shades lighter if he/she could help it which is why fairness creams and lotions are a booming business all over the country. It is only recently that darker women have been accepted in the mainstream media and this has brought along a change in the way Indians perceive themselves.
In their quest for physical perfection, many young people miss out on a lot of fun and even put their health in peril. In short, we have an entire generation that is trying to squeeze itself into the mould of ‘perfect 10’ that the media and society seem to have created. It is important for young people to be aware and accepting of their physical characteristics and not allow media-generated perspectives affect their self-esteem.
Youth and Popular Culture:
The process of globalization has blurred national and cultural boundaries to a large extent. Indian youth now have an opportunity to understand and interact with people from different cultures. Give and take is a natural process when two or more cultures intermingle. Western values have slowly crept into the Indian mindset which is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, this exposure has been instrumental in raising a generation that is far more open-minded, liberal and equipped to fight social evils like dowry, infanticide, illiteracy and the ill-treatment meted out to women. There is no harm is adopting positive aspects of the western culture but at the same time it is also important to remain grounded to our roots and cultural identity. The problem arises when young people get carried away under the pressure to come across as ‘cool’ and begin to feel ashamed and embarrassed of their language, culture, traditions and family values – this leads to an identity crisis where an individual struggles to fit in with a culture that his not his own while rejecting his core identity. The ideal situation would be when the youth learns to dissociate “modernism” with “westernism”; while modernism is a state of mind, westernism is a way of life. For a healthy and progressive Indian society, we need more of the former that the latter.
With young people forming a large chunk of the corporate workforce, their spending power has increased by a few leaps. Just like the US, India is fast emerging as a consumerist society with all the big global brands making their way into the Indian market. The mall culture has drastically transformed shopping patterns. A few years ago, Rs.10000 would be the monthly income of a well-to-do family but today, an upper middle class lady would not flinch before swiping her credit card for a handbag costing the same!
Credit cards and bank loans have made it easier for young people to own things that may be priced beyond their reach. While the smarter ones invest in property and deposits, the frivolous ones shop their way into debts that they find impossible to pay back. This is precisely what happened in the US recently – many banks went bankrupt just because of indiscriminate use of credit cards and loans. If Indian youth are made aware of financial management and saving schemes, we may succeed in avoiding a similar situation in our country. Considering that people as young as 20 are working full-time, this becomes more of a necessity than an option.
Youth and Marriage:
The present generation is far more ambitious and career-driven than their previous counterparts and this includes women too. Career-oriented and materialism-driven lifestyles may be attributed to an increased level of competition in professional fields and the skyrocketing inflation. As a result, most young people prefer to postpone marriage and parenthood until they are well-settled in life. The obvious advantage is that young people get more time to devote to their work without any distraction from the domestic front, especially for women. However, the problems arising from this recent trend far outweigh the benefits. As people choose to marry late, they find it increasingly difficult to adjust to a new life with a new person. Rekha, 30 and single, was not ready for marriage until a few years ago. Now that she is doing well in her career as an advertizing professional, she wishes to settle down and start a family. The only problems is that her parents have been looking for a suitable groom but there is none that she considers good enough for herself and her criteria for selection is very complex too. Rekha is not alone – with maturity comes a certain level of strong-headedness and rigidity which is easier to ply with at a younger age. Also, since both spouses are career-driven, they find it hard to make time for each other and communicate important issues. The result is a higher divorce rate among young couples. Just as they delay marriage, women also prefer to push motherhood into their thirties. As a consequence, infertility related problems are commonplace and becoming a mother becomes more of a medical struggle than a natural biological process.
With demanding jobs, long commutes and extended office hours, young couples are struggling to strike a healthy work-life balance. Bringing work home and working past office hours or on weekends are common causes of marital conflicts.
Youth as an Individual:
Since the past few decades, there has been a drastic transformation in the Indian family structure. The joint family system, very common until a few years ago, is now an exception rather than a norm. Educated Indians move from smaller towns to bigger cities in search of better job opportunities and settle there as nuclear families. Due to financial support and lack of familial support, Gen X couples chose to have one, two or rarely, three children as opposed to their parents’ generation where broods of six to ten children were not an uncommon sight. This paradigm shift in social and family structure has had its impact on the personality of the modern-day Indian youth. Since most people from the present generation have grown up without the company of multiple siblings and extended family, they tend to be more introverted and self-centered. They sometimes find it frustrating and burdensome to adjust to relatives when they meet them occasionally. The concept of ‘personal space’ is fast taking over familial bonding and quality time with family as young people prefer to be on their own or with people from the same age group. Says Ashutosh, 20, “I don’t have anything against my extended family and cousins but whenever a relative comes to visit, I feel stifled and can’t wait for them to leave. I would rather be alone that in a company that I don’t enjoy”. For many a youth, mobile phones and the internet are the sole means of communication with the outside world. One can’t help but wonder if globalization and nuclear setups have given rise to a generation that is maladjusted and ill-equipped to deal with emotional factors.
Religion also seems to be losing its significance among the younger, educated generation which comes as a welcome change. For centuries, Indian society has been following unreasonable and rigid religious rituals that do nothing but hamper personal and societal growth. In order to establish ourselves as global citizens from a progressive nation, the youth must learn to differentiate between right and wrong; traditions and superstitions; as well as faith and unnecessary rituals.
Youth and Migration:
Gone are the days when young people migrated to a developed country (for education and employment) completely clueless about the language, culture and civic norms. Globalization and the internet have exposed the Indian youth to a variety of cultures, lifestyles and communication styles and most urban individuals don’t find it too hard to blend into the new society. Communication barriers have rarified as most Indians are well versed with globally accepted forms of English and social etiquette. Part of this may be attributed to the growing popularity of western TV shows and movies among the Indian youth. This may indeed be a positive manifestation but we must not forget that there is a large section of Indian youth in smaller towns and villages that still does not have access to quality education and training. In comparison with previous generations however, they are better informed and not as vulnerable.
Conclusion:
The picture painted by the current state of Indian youth may not be all rosy but it shows signs of positive change nevertheless. In a country with a population of over a billion, it does take time before reforms can make themselves significantly visible. Globalization comes as a boon to a nation that is home to so many natural resources, manpower, culture and industries. Thousands of new jobs are generated each day and local talent that was hitherto being wasted is now optimally utilized; although a lot more is left to be done in this direction.
The concept of ‘society’ and ‘culture’ is a dynamic one and it would help the country if the youth embrace positive aspects of global culture open-heartedly instead of clinging on to age-old value systems that pose an obstacle to growth and progression. In the same breath, it is also important to stay rooted to our identity as Indians as that is what makes us unique.
We live in an era of rapid urban and industrial growth but at the same time, it is our responsibility to stop for a moment and realize our boundaries. Growth and development should never be at the cost of environment and nature. The modern day youth is far more aware of environmental and conservation issues that affect the whole world. As responsible global citizens, we must pledge to do all that we can to make the world a better place.

Education and Academic Excellence of Indian Youth

October 30, 2014, 3:33 pm

By Dr.Athiqul H. Laskar

India’s historical position in Education is no doubt very well-known. Since its Independence in 1947, India has made tremendous advances in every field. Be it Agriculture, Technology, Science, Humanities, so on and so forth. This was possible only because of a strong educational system. The Indian educational system has created some of the most marvelous geniuses in the world, like Dr. A. P. J Abdul Kalam, Dr. Sarabhai and many more. However with the advent of the 21st century, increasing globalization has changed the face of the world and hence major changes need to be introduced in the Indian Education Scenario as well, in order to make it competitive and relevant. How can India stay relevant in the highly charged era of information technology? Can the youth, as students, maintain learning-orientation while they succumb to the pressures of competition? Is brain drain an avoidable phenomenon? In this highly competitive arena of grade hungry institutions and societal pressures, can the youth of India maintain the basic aim of education which is ‘love of truth’ and ‘thirst for knowledge’. This paper discusses these issues with special emphasis on steps to be taken to improve the standards of Indian education system, while presenting a comparative analysis with the American System of Education. Keywords: education, globalization, competition, ICSE, exam pressure.

India has, probably, the world’s oldest history in education. When most of the western world was wandering in savage wilderness, India had a most advanced form of schooling in the ‘Gurukul System’. In this system, Students resided in the ‘Ashrams’ or the hut abodes of their ‘Gurus’ or teachers and engaged in active learning for a number of years. Only after successfully completing this phase of their life known as the ‘Brahmacharyashram’ or the student phase of one’s life, were they considered fit for a public or routine life of a householder ( A Grihasth). However, even in those days, caste had a major role to play in the imparting of education to these students. Children belonging, only to the upper castes namely the ‘Brahmans’ (the priests) and the Kshtriyas (the warriors) had exclusive rights to this ‘Ashram-based’ education and the lower castes namely the scavengers, the cobblers, the manual labourers and other such communities as well as women were denied any form of education. The lower castes were only expected to perform their duties towards their master, perfectly and women were more or less, considered instruments of child-bearing. When Jainism and Buddhism spread across India, education became more and more liberated from caste-barriers, although the caste-consciousness of Indians could not be eliminated altogether. During those days, India was considered by many as a great educational hub. Many famous Universities like ‘Takshashila’ (now in Pakistan) and ‘Nalanda’ attracted students from various parts of the world. With the Muslim invasion, Persian and Arabic came to be studied by the Indians. The British rule changed the outlook of the Indian men. Although the British administration was oppressive, its educational policies towards Indians proved to be nothing short of a boon for India. Thus, with the British education system, taking firm roots in the Indian soil, Indians began to cultivate a scientific and rational temper.
With this history in mind, let us now evaluate the Indian education system as we see it today. After its Independence in 1947, India has certainly made progress in the field of education. However, there are some deficiencies that are still remaining to be addressed. Firstly, it is very important to understand that there is a basic difference in the aim of schools and universities. “It is commonly stated that the function of a school is to provide a’ good general education to its, pupils’, but it is necessary to know what exactly are the elements of this good general education which will not only prepare a pupil for university work, but at the same time prepare him for practical work to earn his living if he does not proceed to a university. The university, on the other hand, should be a great meeting ground for young men and women, where they receive higher instruction from their teachers as well as prepare for life through contact with their contemporaries and their seniors.” (www.education.nic.in, 1997). When it is estimated that “50-55 per cent students actually go up for the intermediate after passing the high school examination, while the remaining 45-50 per cent do not” (www.education.nic.in, 1997), then it is a huge area of concern. What happens to this 45-50 per cent of students who do not have the opportunity of higher education? In an era of cut-throat competition do these students stand a chance of gainful employment? The answer to this question is ‘no’. A few of these students might be successful in moulding a successful entrepreneurial venture with their own inherent intellectual capacity or talent. However, a majority of these students run the risk of being unemployed or poorly employed in ‘on-off’ jobs requiring low academic skills. It is highly distressing to imagine the situation of a country with almost 45-50 per cent of its young and working population in the unemployed or poorly employed category. Solving the problem of employment of these so called ‘half-educated’ students is the need of the hour. Since they do not have time and resources for higher education, it becomes imperative to provide them with lesser expensive and relatively lower time-consuming educational facilities that could provide them with technical skills to start their own ventures. “The Sri Jayachamarajendra Occupational Institute at Bangalore, started by Sir M. Visvesvaraya in1943, which is now run by the Government of Mysore, is one such institution. It offers occupational courses in 26 branches-diplomas- in 19 branches and certificate courses in 7. The duration ranges from a minimum of 1 year to a maximum of 3 years.” (www.education.nic.in, 1997). The government of India should strive to establish more such institutions. Such institutions will go a long way in developing the potential of those Indian youth who have the technical aptitude but for some reasons cannot pursue a university education, thereby giving them a fair chance of surviving in the global scenario.
Increasing globalization also underscores the need for developing new academic content, relevant not only in India, but everywhere else in the world. There is a general notion among parents, students, coaching classes etc. that the SSC board syllabus (state board) is inferior to that of the ICSE or CBSE boards (International boards, accredited by University of Cambridge). One cannot blame them for thinking so. A casual glance at the books of these boards will confirm this hypothesis. How are these syllabi formulated? The SSC board syllabus is formulated by bureaucrats sitting in their conference rooms and often is decided by what they want the students to learn and not really what the students need to be learning. It is usually out-dated and seldom helps the student in his/her career. The CBSE methodology is but a foreign version of SSC board. As this model of syllabus ceases to be of practical use to students, they often lose interest in studies and cram their way through exams, learning very little and forgetting everything once the exams are over. The ICSE board however has special and qualified content developers to design their syllabus. These experts may include professors and subject matter experts and they design the curriculum in such a way as to be of interest to the students. A lot of emphasis is placed on creativity and practical work instead of the majorly theory-based system of SSC. This model of education comes very close to the holistic model of education and students are encouraged to think instead of mugging up and clearing the examinations. This also prepares the students for future challenges in university life, for e.g. clearing the various entrance tests, preparing dissertations etc.
Let us take the example of Neeta Mathur. Last year, Neeta decided to shift her 9 year old son, Shreyas, from an SSC board school to the ICSE board P.G. Garodia high school in Ghatkopar, with the result that her son is now more excited about going to school every day. He loves the projects given at school because he says he doesn’t sit with his books the entire day and engages in lots of impromptu debates and elocutions held by his teacher. Since the numbers of students in his new classroom are less compared to his old school, he gets personal attention from his teachers which, according to Neeta, is the reason why Shreyas has started paying more attention while studying. He devotes an equal amount of time to studies and sports. When the process of education is interesting and engaging, the result is an involved student and a happy child. This gradual shift in the mindset of parents, students and educational institutions can be illustrated from the move a lot of schools have made recently. For e.g., a few schools who have changed from the SSC to the ICSE methodology are P.G. Garodia English High School (Ghatkopar), St. Annes High School (Fort), G.D. Somani High School (Cuffe Parade) and many more.
However not everyone is as lucky as Shreyas. The ICSE board has a limited reach. The teachers here are definitely paid higher than the SSC teachers, but certainly the fee-structures of these schools are on the higher end and not everyone can afford them. So whether or not one gets to attend these schools depends on the monetary aspects of the parents. This brings us to the question why should students of one country be subjected to such a vast differences in the levels of education and methods of teaching? The government should take adequate steps to promote ICSE type schooling or best combine these methods with the SSC board and bring out one centralized board for everyone. According to Nandan Nilekani, the co-founder of Infosys, “courses should be restructured so that undergraduate students have access to all disciplines.” (Nilekani, 2009). Such an initiative would go a long way in developing rational thinking among the students. Student will have the option to learn more about the subjects they wish to study at the graduate and post-graduate level. Also, No doubt, for so many years, the control of education was in the hands of the State Governments, however now the time is ripe to introduce a change and centralization of education is one of the changes that are much desired. However, in a political situation as challenging as in India, it is a difficult nut to crack. It is very difficult to expect a change from bureaucracy, especially when it comes to a curb on their own powers. If the teaching methodology all over India is updated to international levels, students will stand a better chance of not only clearing entrance tests but also of surviving the research-oriented world of tomorrow. However at present, there is a vast difference between the levels of education received by students of different background and this fact is becoming a major cause of concern by widening the cultural and social gap between our citizens of tomorrow.
Inspite of the many reforms that the Indian Government is undertaking, somewhere there is a basic flaw in the implementation of these laws. The year 2009 was an eventful year for Indian Education as new reforms were proposed by the Governmen. The Harvard Educated HRD minister Mr. Kapil Sibal certainly deserves ‘kudos’ for coming out with certain progressive ideas. His basic premise for improving the system rests on lightening the pressure on students. Let us first understand the background because of which such reforms are needed. Increasing globalization and cut-throat competition has changed the face of the Indian corporate world. Getting a well-paying job has become more competitive. So, while our grand-parents would have advised our parents to get good grades, get a good job and eventually earn lots of money, our parents certainly preferred to tell us to top the exams, enroll in a top institution and get hired in a top organization that could pay top-class pay-checks. It might not, in all cases, be said upfront but it is almost always understood. One always knows it at the back of one’s minds. There is immense pressure on students both from parents and educational institutions. This affects the mindset of students and they find themselves stuck in a ‘rat race’ for topping the exams, irrespective of whether they have the interest or aptitude for it. “According to a study conducted by the Delhi-based Hindustan Times, north India’s leading daily, nearly 70 percent of Indian students after class VIII experience severe academic stress, especially during exam time with nearly 10 percent having contemplated suicide at some point during their academic years. In addition, there were seven suicides and nine attempted suicides in and around Delhi during this year till March-end.” (Lal, 1999) “According to the National Crime Record Bureau, students try to commit suicide every 90 minutes across the country. During 2006-07, 5,857 students committed suicide. A study by a magazine found that approximately 4,000 students commit exam-related suicide in India each year.” (Merinews, 2010). These statistics are alarming and demand urgent attention. In the light of these statistics the move by Mr. Kapil Sibal to “abolish CBSE Board exams for class X from 2010-2011 session and introduction of grading system from the current year” deserves appreciation. (Merinews, 2010). This example can be followed by state boards as well. However, it is a difficult proposal as there is a total lack of co-ordination between different State Boards. In such circumstances it is difficult to bring about uniformity between different boards. In order to bring about uniformity a centralized control is required. The reforms made by the Central Government are often refuted by the State Governments who want to safeguard their own power. Consider for e.g. the NCHER bill 2010. “Point 53 in the 7th Chapter of the bill clearly empowers the Central Government as a supreme rule-maker in the educational policy.” (NCHER Bill, 2010). However the “State governments are arguing that this is leading towards centralization of power and is taking away their autonomy of approving institutions through legislation and appointment of Vice-chancellors.” (Choudaha, 2010). One still does not know what the fate of this bill would be. Yet, there is a glimmer of hope as the government finally seems to have started taking steps towards standardizing education for the benefits of students and not for those of politicians. However these games of politics do have a profound effect on the psyche of the youth. One often blames the students for their apathy towards politics. However, at the risk of sounding judgemental, one has to acknowledge the fact that the educated youth of today cannot quite bring themselves to ‘revere’ the political system because of such a profound hunger of power that exists in a murky system. Given the ‘red-tapism’ involved, it will take years for us to see the reforms actually bearing any fruit in the society.
There are little opportunities for world-class higher education in India and the possibility of such opportunities are diminished by bureacratic concerns. Lets take for e.g., the Foreign Universities Bill-2010. Its basic premise operates on limiting the autonomy of foreign institues looking to operate in India. (Choudaha, 2010). On one hand it is a necessary measure to ensure the safety of funds involved and other such concerns, however on the other hand, it is also a major demotivating factor for foreign universities looking to set up centres in India. It shouldn’t be surprising at all that the capable minds of young India would seek foreign opportunities in education and leave the Indian soil in search of their ‘thirst for knowledge’. It is a different question that some of them go abroad purely for their thirst for knowledge while some of them go for the status attached to it. Whatever the situation, if we consider the exorbitant amount of fees they pay for a foreign higher education degree, it is a major loss in terms of revenue for the Indian government. If these students come back, they can still contribute to the growth of the country. However, if they decide to stay in their country of higher education, the loss in terms of ‘Brain Drain’ is unimaginable.
After understanding the psyche of the students going abroad for higher education, if we want to save this money going out of the country in the form of educational fees, we have to implement many changes in the Indian Education System. The government needs to understand that atleast in matters of education the ‘power-lobbying’ tactics of corrupt politicians should be handled with strictness. It is an open secret that many colleges (usually owned by politicians) take the sanctions from universities and operate haphazardly by offering ‘paid’ seats to students securing low marks and who are totally unfit for the professional training that the college offers (thanks to the meagre level of education they might have received at the primary and secondary phases). This is achieved by the give and take of bribe, which basically amount to entry of black money in the educational structure. This is effectively illustrated by the recent Tata Tea Advertisement which is aired on behalf of their corporate social responsibility venture- “Jaago-re.com”. In this advertisement two youngsters who look like seniors in a college happen to overhear a conversation in a college canteen between a father and a son who have arrived at the college for admission. The son who seems to have scored less marks is pacified by his father who says he will secure an admission by paying money. When the two seniors approach them on pretext of negotiating a deal for admission the father shows his willingness to pay 3 lakh rupees for admission in Engineering. The two seniors then come to the actual message of the advertisement. They make the father realise that he is teaching his son wrong values and his son will operate in a similar manner everywhere in his future life- by paying bribes. This advertisement covers a quintessential fact of Indian student life, “Make it on your merit, but if you cant, then atleast you will make it on the merit of your money”. It ends with a social message saying that if we stop paying bribes, we can change the system. While this thought is absolutely right, to implement it will take a robust government control on the arbitrary operation of certain educational institutions. It is not to say that all institutions owned by politicians are havens of corruption. There are glorious exceptions like the D.Y.Patil educational empire built by one of the most visionary leaders of India, Dr. D.Y. Patil. This institution till date shapes and moulds the future of thousands of deserving students, but such examples are few and far in between.
Another detrimental policy of the government that closes the doors of higher education to meritorius students is the reservation policy. Students of the backward classes, scheduled classes and scheduled tribes are till date offered reservation based seats in institutions of higher education. The students who take advantage of the reservation policy, are generally those who have secured average or less than average percentage in the qualifying exams but because of their caste they are given the reserved seats over some very meritorious students. This not only, on one hand, kills the learning instincts of the deserving students but also on the other hand drives the students belonging to the ‘reserved’ category into a complacency mode. None of the political parties in India seem to take the risk of initiating a drive towards non-caste-based reservation to safegaurd their votebank. The glorious India of tomorrow that each one of them professes to create, is filled with a frustrated but talented young crowd who have lost the reservation race. A very dangerous situation indeed. If we look at the history of reservation we will have to go back to the formation of the Indian Constitution. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar included this clause in the constitution when India was a newly liberated nation facing the challenges of growth. It was an uphill task and it was necessary to provide equal opportunities to everyone including the lower castes who had been ostracized and denied educational opportunities for centuries. Considering this situation, reserving seats for them was the only option available to bring them on a common platform with everyone else. However, today, as we enter the 64th year of independence, the scenario has changed. Many of the first and the second generations of the lower castes who took advantage of the reservation system did reach high positions of social and cultural status. The reservation system certainly helped them but many of them also succeeded in life on their own merit. Such people do have the resources now to educate their children according to the best standards. So caste-based reservations for their children, cannot be justified. If any reservations are to be made for them, it should be made only on the basis of economical handicaps and not caste. The meritorious students among the ‘Scheduled Castes’ do no need such reservations. Even Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had recommended the reservation system only for ten years. However, today, the reservation issue is still ongoing because of political vote-bank hungry ‘netas’ who fear that relinquishing the reservation system will result in the loss of their ‘Scheduled Caste’ vote banks. Only when there is a fair and equal dissemination of knowledge can we attempt to bring out the real academic excellence of India.
In order to see where we stand internationally, let us compare and analyse our educational system with the educational system of the United States of America. It is agreed upon that these two countries have totally different social structures and national ethos and a comparison between the systems of these two vastly different countries would always be open for criticism. But we need to remember that there are some similarities in the situations between them too. For e.g. if India has its caste-problems, the U.S of A have their own race-oriented problems. In 2001, the Bush Government passed the ‘No Child Left Behind’ law in an attempt to create a more accountable system of education. This law implied that schools will have to prove their efficiency to secure educational funds from the federal government. More importance was given to Math and English Reading in the curriculum and subjects like science were neglected . The parents had the option to shift their kids to better performing schools and that too at the expense of the local districts. This move seems to aim at improving the efficiency however it was seen as a government interference in the state handled education policies. Standardized methods of testing were too rigid to allow individuality of students. The result was a decline in the quality of education. Recent reports do indicate that education in the United States of America shows declining trends. “In 2002, UNICEF compared public education in twenty four nations around the world: the US ranked 18. US 4th grade math grades have remained the same since 1995, while other countries have improved.” (Faler, 2008). “Forty years ago America had the highest graduation rate: now America is ranked as the 21st”. It is but natural that a majority of the youth of America feels a general lack of enthusiasm towards education. A huge number of American youth today dreams of making it big by being a ‘celebrity’. Very few of them dream of being scientists or engineers. Firstly, higher education is expensive and secondly, financial aid is hard to receive. In fact the increasing drop-out rates is an area of national concern for the present Obama Government. The study conducted by Center of Labor Market Studies in co-operation with the Chicago Alternative Schools concluded that there were “6.2 Million high school drop-outs in the year 2007” (Left Behind, 2009). If we compare the situation with India, the students here drop-out more because of lack of financial support than less interest in education. The Obama government through the ‘HOPE USA Federal incentive program’ is working towards restructuring the NCLB (No Child Left Behind). It hopes to help fund the re-enrollment of the dropped-out students. Re-enrolled students who successfully obtain the diploma could earn $400,000 more during their lifetimes than the drop-outs. (Center for Labor and Market studies, 2009). The American president seems to send out a message to his countrymen to get educated so that more and more jobs would stay in America and not have to be outsourced. Indian bureaucrats can emulate the prompt action taken by the American government. By putting their money where it matters the most, the Obama administration has set an example of prudent and wise governance.
In conclusion, we must acknowledge the fact that the Indian youth are gold-mines full of a promising future. Only the right policies and a strong leadership can take this potential to its highest peak, leading India to being the super-power that it is predicted to be.
Works Cited

Center for Labor and Market studies. (2009, May 5). Left Behind. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from www.clms.neu.edu: http://www.clms.neu.edu/publication/documents/CLMS_2009_Dropout_Report.pdf
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