Hindustan Is Now Youngistan

I am happy that Uday India is marching ahead with flying colours and on 30 November 2014, we would celebrate

the proud fifth anniversary. On behalf of Uday India family, I am certainly happy to wish all of you a happy Diwali. This is a famous festival of our country that is celebrated with much pomp and ceremony. In fact, it is also time for all Indians to celebrate our nation as we have the highest number of youngsters. It looks as if the dreams comes true and India is going to be the Vishwaguru.

The Justice J.S. Verma committee commissioned to recommend changes to sexual assault laws after the deadly gangrape of a 23-year-old Delhi student in December 2012 highlighted the economic frustration of young Indian men as a serious issue. In his report, Justice Verma , described the “mass of young, prospectless men” whose sexual harassment of women may tip over into more aggravated assault. It said these men were “fighting for space in an economy that offers mainly casual work.” These words may sound common place, but if in a full perspective described the youth of India, their hopes, aspirations and frustrations. Inspite of being an ancient civilization, India today is a youthful nation. It seems as if today we are living in two Indias, one that belongs to the older generation and in some ways is seen as regressive; and the other that belongs to the young and is its exact opposite. Whether in the information technology hub of Bangalore, the up-and-coming city of Nagpur, or small town cities like Bhubaneswar and Trichy, India’s young people are on the move. They’re reaching for new opportunities made possible by India’s liberalization over the past two decades.

Every third person in an Indian city today is a youth. The United Nations defines youth as people between ages 15 and 24. By this measure, there are approximately 240 million youth in India, about 20 per cent of the population, according to the 2011 census. That’s up from 195 million in 2001. The median age in India is 25, meaning that half the population is below 25 and half is above it. The population in the age-group of 15-34 increased from 353 million in 2001 to 430 million in 2011. Current predictions suggest a steady increase in the youth population to 464 million by 2021 and finally a decline to 458 million by 2026. Compare India to Canada, whose youth make up just 12 per cent of its population and where the median age is almost 40.

With the West, Japan and even China aging, this demographic potential offers India growing economy an extra edge that economists believe could add a significant 2 per cent to the GDP growth rate. What do these numbers spell out for India? They mean that hundreds of millions of young people are or soon will be looking for jobs and spouses. If those hopes aren’t fulfilled, aspiration may turn to frustration. And, some social scientists say, that frustration can manifest itself in rising crime.

Did Justice Verma’s report explain that the frustration of India’s youth resulted in the prevalence of sexual harassment and violence against women? There are many factors that could drive such behavior, but it’s certainly worth exploring the role of economic and social frustration. The sociological term for the act of loafing around with nothing to do: “timepass.” That is also the Indian slang for whiling away time unproductively.

Unemployment and underemployment are notoriously difficult to measure because as much as 90 per cent of the Indian labor force works in the informal sector, in activities and occupations that by definition aren’t recorded in official statistics.

In this demographic transition, regional disparities in education will result in the benefits not be evenly spread across the country. The southern and western States will experience a growth dividend as they accounted for 63 per cent of all formally trained people. The largest share of youth with formal skills was found in Kerala, followed by Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. Among those undergoing training, Maharashtra had the highest share, Bihar the lowest.

The unequal access to opportunity and the lack of emphasis on education remains a persistent problem. The report finds that a person in an urban area has a 93 per cent greater chance of acquiring training than someone in a rural area.

Contrary to popular perception, the youth of India know exactly what they want out of life. The youth has a burning desire to prove something to themselves and their family. They want to better their circumstances and they want to rise up the social ladder. The present young generation doesn’t believe in playing safe. The dare to think different and are willing to take risks. Today’s youth hasn’t inherited the fear and insecurity of its previous generation. The other thing that defines this generation is their voice. Unlike the previous one, this generation is more vocal, not just on Facebook or Twitter but also in person, which should explain why there have been more protests in these last few years than before. The youth of India are as patriotic as our previous generations. They want to see India on the top spot in every field. They have a maximum exposure to the global affairs and the cultures around. The Youth are the most important vote-bank. They are fighting for idealism, for an ideal day-to-day quality of life. Their needs are jobs, housing, lowering inflation and comfortable cost of finance, security, health care, recreation; they want to reclaim their fantasies, which seem a distant dream, to reinstate their rights to justice, dignity and a speedy redressal of grievances. They find the ideological issues of Mandir-masjid and wars and quotas too atrophied and far-removed from their aspirations. PM Modi has rightly read the writing on the wall.

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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