National Youth Policy of India is suppose to provide guidelines to different ministries and official bodies to initiate a process of inclusion of youth of the country from varied backgrounds to mainstream. This is a task with immense responsibility. Larger question which lies in front of us is if it has been able to do so? But before analysing its implementation we must also analyse the focus of the Policy.
The policy starts with a quote from Swami Vivekanand, where he addresses the ‘young men’ of the country. The historic quote from one of Swami’s many lectures goes like this,
“Young men, my hope is in you. Will you respond to the call of your nation? Each one of you has a glorious future if you dare believe me. Have a tremendous faith in yourselves, like the faith I had when I was a child, and which I am working out now. Have that faith, each one of you, in yourself—that eternal power is lodged in every soul—and you will revive the whole of the country.”
This quote addresses the ‘men’ of the country, and if I am not wrong NYP is also suppose to cater to the needs of women and the third gender of the country. Swami Vivekanand has his hope in the young men whom he rhetorically asks to respond to the ‘call of nation’. As a matter of fact he spoke decades back in a different context. Quoting him here is certainly out of context. One cannot start a policy on youth with a reference to men alone.
When we proceed deeper into the policy we find the focus area of the policy is concentrated around skill development and sports. It talks about other focus areas as well but is unable to suggest proper policy intervention. For instance in the section 7, titled Thrust Areas, it talks about various issues of grave concern. Section 7.9 talks about the evil practices in the society. It goes like this,
7.9 Social justice and action against unhealthy social practices
a) There exist certain unhealthy social practices like dowry child marriage, female infanticide and honour killings and decisions by Khap Panchayats which need to be addressed.
a) The task of rooting out long-embedded unhealthy social practices from the community requires concerted local action through a sustained programme of education of the community people and dialogue with leaders and elders. The role of voluntary organisations working in the community and officials of various related departments is also crucial and should be adhered to.
This section talks about serious issues which require proper planning and strong will to ensure implementation. But the policy sums up the intervention in just two sentences. The mention of voluntary organisations working in the community is too broad to give a crucial role to tackle the problem. These are deep rooted problems which require deeper analysis to suggest a proper implementation policy for the same. It could have suggested a plan of creating its own body for the purpose or by creating a system which involves other ministries as well. This will certainly require a hard work on part of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, but complex problems require extra-ordinary solutions.
India’s youth face many problems, education being a major concern. The age bracket of 16 to 30 years cover almost all the matriculation students, intermediate students, graduation and higher studies students. The policy does not discuss about the students in a detailed manner. There is a mention about the education scenario in the country but with no proper planning. Given the dropout rates in school and colleges across the country it was important to have a detailed plan to seek assistance of relevant ministry to minimise the dropout rate of young students. For this proper budgeting is required. Infrastructure of academic institutions is of a major concern as well. NYP needs to have a detailed plan for the same as well.
It is surprising that the policy never discusses budgetary allocation for various plans it mentions. By reading the youth policy one wonders how we can achieve such a humongous task with no discussion of monetary transaction! It needs to give guidelines for budgetary allocation for not only for plans related to the education but also for various youth club it mentions which are required to bring together the youth from diverse background to mainstream. The youth club it mentions has no resources of anything and it is difficult to even imagine how they can take care of tasks relating to youth across the country.
At the end of the policy you see few mathematical equations being solved only to realise that it is Youth Development Index, YDI, which is based on the model of Human Development Index, HDI, with few new components in order to cater to the needs of the youth. There is no way one can comment on the YDI as there is still time for it to prove its consequences. It aims at providing data to central government, different state governments and civil societies ‘to ascertain the status of youth vis-à-vis the systemic dimensions which influence their growth and empowerment’. The statistical equations are, it seems, too broad and generic in nature to give a clear picture of the development of youth pan India.
All this help us to analyse that the focus of NYP 2012 is quite defocused and there is an urgent need to rectify it. It becomes important to understand that there is a need of inclusion of civil bodies in the policy making process. By civil bodies I mean people who have worked hard with the youth of the country in different sectors. There can be sub-policies for the three age brackets NYP 2012 suggests. Accordingly different civil bodies need to work with respective age brackets. For instance the age bracket of 16 to 21 years requires experts from secondary and higher secondary education background. Similarly the age brackets of 21 to 25 years and 26 to 30 years will require experts from University education, skill development sector and other relevant bodies who have been associated with the concerned youth for a long time.
A better system and society for youth of the nation will ensure a better future of the country. It is an urgent need for intervention by people of the country so that we have better practical policies with better implementation strategies.
Edited version of this article was first published in Youth Ki Awaaz on June 7, 2013