Nurturing Youth for Resilient Nation Building
| Prof. HIMACHALAM DASARAJU, CWF (UK) - 16 Jan 2024

Nurturing Youth for Resilient Nation Building: A Driving Force for Sustainable India

(Retrospection in commemoration of Swami Vivekananda's Birth Anniversary)

   “All powers are within you; you can do anything and everything” – Swami Vivekananda

The ‘Youth Icon of India’ Shri Swami Vivekananda, has made remarkable speeches to reinforce and inspire the millions of youths who are the pillars of nation-building. It’s a great privilege and pride to reminiscence his inspirational advice to the youth “Whatever you think, that you will be. If you think yourselves weak, weak you will be, if you think yourselves strong, strong you will be”, “You should work like a master and not as a slave, work incessantly, but not do a slave’s work”, “Never say NO, never say I Cannot, for you are infinite”, “All the power is within you. You can do anything”…. The youth have required innate energies, skills and power to accomplish anything anywhere, what they wish. Swami Vivekananda is a real source of inspiration to the youth and he always believes that the youth is a great asset and backbone of the country. Any country’s future relies very much on how we nurture, inspire, educate and make them skillfully brilliant and knowledgeable human resources.

National Youth Day: The National Youth Day aims to celebrate to honour the great spiritual leader and philosopher Swami Vivekananda to inspire the youths of India and to transform them into more skillful, knowledgeable, and useful human resources. India has been celebrating National Youth Day on the 12th of January every year since 1985 commemorating his birth anniversary. Since 1984, the Government of India has decided to celebrate the birthday of the great Indian Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda on 12th January every year as National Youth Day (Yuva Diwas) for inducing his philosophy and ideology into the young minds, who are the real pillars of the country. Further, National Youth Day is intended to review the practical problems, strengths, weaknesses, and challenges of youth for their livelihood in the context of global changes and to draw special attention from the national and international community for resolving their issues across the sectors for their wellbeing.

Need for Youth Empowerment: India’s economic growth depends upon how India nurtures its youth. Youth play a vital role in resilient nation-building. UN has assigned a prime role to youth in achieving most of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), (17 SDGs), across the world. Youth are the torch-bearers of the 2030 agenda of UN SDGs. India has the largest youth population in the world and will be a relatively young country in 2030 with 365 million in the 15 – 29 years of age group. Idia has a huge potential youth population in the world with around 808 million people (66% of the total population) under the age of 35 years. (National Youth Policy, August 2022).

National youth policy aligned with the UN SDGs, mainly encompassing quality in education, inequalities reduction, decent work environment and economic growth. Very interesting to observe that the “Youth in India 2022” report highlighted that the youth in the age group of 15 to 29 years (27.2 % of the population as of 2021), is expected to decrease to 22.7% by 2036, whereas the share of elderly is expected to increase during 2021- 2036. The total youth population increased from 222.7 million in 1991 to 333.4 million in 2011 and is expected to reach 400.0 million by 2022, the number will decrease to 345.5 million by 2036.

 Youth Challenges: The report World Youth Report (WYR) highlighted the issues and urgent need for commitment to the world program of action goals, as around 200 million youth are in poverty, 130 million youth are illiterates, 88 million are unemployed and 10 million young people are suffering with HIV/AIDS, more than 500 million youth are living in less than $ 2 a day, 113 million are not in schools, which are the big challenges. Some other issues are limited access to education, gainful employment, Job security, Technology disruptions, Skill updating, gender equity, stress at work, depression, exploitation, lack of work satisfaction and so on …

Unemployment is a critical issue in any country, no exception to India, which is a big challenge to the economic landscape of India. According to Forbes India, (1st November 2023), data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), November 2023, the unemployment rate in India increased to its highest level in the recent past mainly due to rising joblessness in the rural sector. The overall unemployment rate in India was 7.95% in July 2023, rose to 10.05% in October 2023, from 7.33% in 2022, 5.98% in 2021, and 8.00% in 2020. As per CMIE, the youth is facing critical unemployment issues, as the unemployment rate of youth (15 – 24 years of age), stood at 45.4% in 2022-23, which is alarmingly high.

According to the report “Mental State of India: The Internet-enabled Youth” 2023 by Sapien Labs Centre for the Human Brain and Mind, around 51% of youth were distressed or struggling in 2023, which indicates that they had a mental health quotient (MHQ) of less than 0. The report indicates that the mental health of the internet-enabled youth population has declined from 2020 to 2023 across the age groups (www.thehindubusinessline.com). Indian youth is facing multifarious issues, which are a big challenge to them set right for the wellbeing of young India.

What is needed?

1)  Youth should be more accessible to get trained in emerging technologies and equipped with the required knowledge and skills.

2) Skill updating in emerging technology like AI and automation is essential to catch up with global opportunities.

3) The government should also focus on encouraging the people to utilize the existing education which paves the way for the betterment of youth's life.

4)  The government should develop a comprehensive mechanism to generate employment opportunities for youth to overcome issues like unemployment, education for the poor and so on.

5)  They should encourage youth in the areas of their interests like sports, politics, arts, technology, and entrepreneurship. “Youths are leaders of tomorrow”. They should be allowed to participate and learn what leadership is all about by practice.

6)  Educational Institutions should produce Job Providers (Entrepreneurs) rather than Job Seekers.

7). The teachers should play a key role in moulding the students as brave, ethical and knowledgeable apart from their parents. They should make the youth realize their responsibilities towards nation-building by instilling good values, knowledge, and ethical behaviour.

8). As we have abundant young human resources, with a large digitally-enabled business network, we should build the required skills and capabilities of youth necessary to drive innovation and entrepreneurship. If youth can be enriched with skills and capabilities for growth and new solutions, then the opportunities are endless both domestically and abroad as well.

9). The entrepreneurship landscape has a pivotal role in shaping young entrepreneurs and their innovation in the new technology-based global economy. The success of youth in this endeavour ultimately depends upon the commitment, willpower, and spirit of entrepreneurship among youth. Young entrepreneurship alone would change the living conditions of the people and contribute their mite to national development.

10). Government policy and support system for entrepreneurs would be a great propeller for achieving inclusive and sustainable economic development.

11). The AI will be setting new market platforms and employment revolutionizing the business landscape in the years to come with more emphasis on ethical AI deployment, risk mitigation and transference which will make a more accountable and secure AI landscape across the sectors and the world.

Conclusion:  Swami Vivekananda aptly said, “See for the highest, aim at that highest and you shall reach the highest”. It’s true that students should always look high, aim high and have meticulous planning to reach high. It’s not an impossible thing for them, it’s possible always provided the students put required hard work, with commitment, dedication, sincerity and honesty.  Then success comes to them. Such kind of hard work, dedication and commitment is to be taught to the students at the school and college levels.

  Make the Youth knowledgeable, ethical, honest, sincere, hardworking, dedicated, work focused and good citizens of this country. Every youth has innate energy, power, capability and skill to do anything if we make them realise their energies and capabilities. If it happens, nothing can stop India from becoming a global superpower, as youth power is a deciding factor across the sectors. Let us awaken them to build a resilient nation for the sustainable economic development of India. 

Stop brain-drain and retain the youngsters in our country and create a spirit of entrepreneurship among young and talented people.

By Dr. Himachalam Dasaraju, and

Ms. Laasya Padmaraju

Dr. Himachalam Dasaraju,

Professor of Commerce & Management (Retd),

Commonwealth Visiting Fellow, UK

Senior Fellow & Professor Emeritus (former),

Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati,

email: dhchalam@gmail.com


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