Underdevelopment and Identity Crisis of emerging youth

October 7, 2015, 10:08 am

Underdevelopment and Identity Crisis of emerging youth

CIMG5062Dr.Athiqul H. Laskar

“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).  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.    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.  In India, women are generally treated as inferior to men.  This may not be the case amongst urban educated population.  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.  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.  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.  India boasts of a breath-takingly fast developing economy.  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.

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 and underdevelpment” 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 better future for American youths in the future.


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