Tag Archives: policy

It’s Time For The Youth To Be The Lotus Of Indian Politics

What can be more noble and satisfying than leading your nation on the path of progress?  Even the challenge of being the CEO of the biggest blue chip company will pale in comparison.  There is no reason why politics should not attract the best minds in the country.  To be a politician, one needs a vision, intelligence and knowledge of political processes, combined with a hands-on approach to grassroots problems.  Politics can teach you as much as lectures in a closed hall can and can be as attractive a career option as any other.

However, sadly, politics today has earned its reputation for being a ‘dirty field’.  The newspapers are flooded with details of scams such as Coalgate, 2G and CWG to name a few.  In this paradoxical situation where law makers have consistently become law-breakers, is it any surprise then that the vicious circle completes itself and that it is only the law breakers who qualify to become the law makers of the country?

In our society, parents have traditionally given primacy to the conventional and lucrative career options (engineers, doctors or investment bankers). In a scenario where people have lost faith in their leaders, the government and in politics in general, why then would an educated thinking parent encourage his or her child to venture into the jungle of politics? The widely held view is that politics is not even in the league of alternate career options for bright children whose potential can be leveraged in better ways; politics is for corrupt and immoral bigots, a ‘dhanda’ of ‘chors’ and ‘goondas’.

Until about two decades ago, perceptions about entrepreneurship were equally disparaging. The common view was that entrepreneurs can succeed only if they are corrupt and have a powerful `godfather’ to back them up. With the opening up of the Indian economy and rapid globalisation, these perceptions have changed.  The youth is choosing to give up high paying jobs and follow their passion. The success stories scripted by some of these bright young entrepreneurs have become legends today: Narayana Murthy, Dhirubhai Ambani and Sabeer Bhatia being some of them.  And hopefully, one will see a similar sort of revolution in politics.

With its huge demographic dividend, India is probably the youngest democracy today.  In 2000, about 350 million Indians were in the age group 15-34 years and this number is set to increase to 485 million by 2030, say reports.  By 2020, the average Indian will be 29 years, as compared to 37 years in China, 45 in Europe and 49 in Japan. On the other hand, the average age of an MP is currently 63 years.  In a 543-member strong parliament, there are only 66 MPs below 40 years and just 30 MPs below 35 years.  Representative democracy?  I really don’t think so.

Clearly, the youth plays a vital role as stakeholders of what is probably the world’s youngest democracy.  It is only logical then that we need a larger number of youth in political forums to represent the aspirations of this vast section of society.  While we need the experience and wisdom of seasoned politicians who are now in their twilight years, the exuberance of the youth, their lateral thinking to get things done will offer a whole new perspective to the many problems that the country faces today. But unfortunately, there are only two types of youth that participate in politics today, what I like to call the princelings and the thuglings.

The princelings are those who make a career in politics because their fathers, grandfathers or uncles did so.  65 per cent of the MPs below 35 years and all of the MPs below 30 years in India fall in this category.  These walk into politics on the legacy of their previous generation(s), they need no qualifications or track record to prove themselves. They are the `blue-eyed protégés’ of Indian politics:  Rahul Gandhi, Varun Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, Omar Abdullah and Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia to name a few. The thuglings on the other hand rule the roost in student unions and youth wings, shouting slogans, vandalizing places and resorting to violence at the slightest opportunity.  They are aggressive, brazen and loud. If they are backed by an influential godfather, they may witness a meteoric rise in their careers, else they remain confined to the lower rungs of the party they are affiliated to.  For most of them, any ambitions of reaching the position of a Gandhi or a Yadav will die a rather slow and painful death.

The Indian youth is aware of the problems that our country faces today; their fiery passion was visible when millions got together in New Delhi to support Anna Hazare in his crusade against corruption and later to protest against the December 2012 gang-rape. Irom Sharmila and Chhawi Rajwat stand as an inspiration for the youth in areas such as Manipur and Rajasthan.

Despite this willingness to engage, politics is not a desirable career option for most young people, and will not be for a long time.  So what is the solution?  Well, unless the youth jump into the dirt of Indian politics and manage to stay clean, how is the system ever going to change?  We need to develop a critical mass of young, honest and successful politicians so that they can become a motivational role model for others to follow.

Demonstrations, protests, street plays and candle-light marches can raise awareness and focus attention on burning issues but ultimately, the power to bring change rests with those who sit in Parliament.  Somebody has to take the first step; these path-breakers or early leaders have to be the lotus of Indian politics: they must remain shining despite the murky whirlpool around them.  Only then can we expect to see a change in Indian politics.

The question remains: who will take the first plunge?

Post By:Rhea Kumar

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National Youth Policy: 6 Ways The Government Can Make Youth Matter

A glance at the National Youth Policy Draft 2012 will tell you how poorly done is The Piece of Policy. With very little focus on enforcing other ministries working with the youth to implement their strategies and recognize different diversities of youth, or implement their programs, the policy formation process is at question. Does holding a bunch of consultations with organizations working with young people qualify for enough representation of the youth? I do not believe so. Moreover, most of the people involved in the consultation process for the formation of the policy come with their respective experience baggage and are not youth themselves – as per how the Indian Government defines young people.

There is a need for a deeper understanding of the needs of young people and a more cohesive process needs to be put into place for the formation of the national youth policy.

Below are 6 ways through which the Indian Government can form a better, more informed and more consultative National Youth Policy in India.

1) Urban youth outreach through social media: If the PMO can reach out to Twitter users for recommendations for a 5th year plan, and if the Justice Verma committee can make use of emails and Facebook for public recommendations on the rape law, the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs can definitely create channels through social media to seek mass recommendations from young people across the country through Facebook and Twitter. Putting out a series of questions that are simplified and put forth in layman language through a period of time can enable various sections of young people to engage with the Ministry and share opinions on what the needs of young people are.

2) Using volunteer forces to do offline consultations: If the Commonwealth Games can create a cohort of over 10,000 volunteers in Delhi alone, I am sure the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs can create a channel of at least a 1000 volunteers in 28 states, who target 100 young people each for a survey with multiple questions. The ministry can make use of Government colleges, Municipal schools and universities to create channels for these volunteers to engage with young people and seek recommendations from them.

3) A team of young researchers for data assessment: Once the data is collected through online and offline channels, a team of young and talented researches who come with the latest knowledge of data assessment can be put to use to analyse this data and come up with the top 20 recommendations that have been most talked about by a majority of young people. Once these recommendations are set in place, they can be worked upon from a policy level, and the National Youth Policy can have more specific expert consultations on these topics to finalize 10 to 15 final inclusions in the National Youth Policy, and put out the draft for review.

4) Regional review groups: Once the draft has been put out and the recommendations have been given to various ministries, central and state governments, the Government can make use of the same volunteer force, or recruit a small regional staff with more expertise who work on a state by state level to review whether the state governments are implementing the policy at their level or not. The sole task of this review group will be to monitor the functioning of the youth ministry cells at the state level and review and asses their performance on an yearly basis. At the end of every year, this group can file a review report to the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs about the situation in the respective states, and give suggested solutions to be implemented for a better functioning of the youth policy recommendations.

5) Awareness drive through national, regional and community media: Last but not the least, out of the funds that the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs receives, it should set out a chunk of it to invest in awareness drives through national media, regional media as well as community specific media to reach out to young people across the board and inform them about their rights, the facilities offered to them, and the recommendations by the Ministry, and generate interest in civic participation and various other aspects of the National Youth Policy. As is evident from the poll conducted by Youth Ki Awaaz here, nearly 80% young people have no clue that something like the National Youth Policy even exists.

6) Consult youth organizations on setting indicators: This is precisely where experienced youth organizations and NGOs can be consulted. The National Youth Policy needs to work on certain indicators and criteria for the survey, and the above 5 points should be used to collect the exact needs of young people against these indicators.

It’s high time young people are given opportunities and platforms to become better and more informed stakeholders in the way the democracy functions.

Post By: Anshul Tewari

 

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India deserves a better National Youth Policy

As a citizen of the country I was amused to know that my government has a policy relevant to the youth – National Youth Policy of India. Naturally, I was intrigued to know more about it. To start with, I did a Google research on the policy. The results were varied and primarily related to the media coverage of unveiling of the NYP by Minister Ajay Maken a year back. There were few results about the change in the draft of the policy or related news. This was not to say that I couldn’t obtain a copy of the NYP 2012 from the Youth Affairs and Sports ministry website.

When you read the NYP 2012, in the very initial pages (it is just 27 page long policy) you will notice that it is a bit progressive as it acknowledges youth with diverse background and does not consider youth of the nation as a homogenous group. It clearly divides youth in three age brackets- 16 to 21 years, 21 to 25 years and 26 to 30 years. The earlier version broadly considered people in the age group of 13 to 35 years as youth- in some parts of the country father and son- both- could be part of the same ‘youth’-ful group. This is not the case in the present draft and it clearly acknowledges that people from different age groups have different problems to which the ministry needs to cater. It also acknowledges that urban youth has different needs when compared to rural youth, and similarly tribal youth will have different needs from the other two brackets. But that’s all it has to offer. There are hardly proper implementation policies suggested by the makers of NYP 2012.

It is important to note that although this policy states that it is consistent with other national policies and plans, it is difficult to believe as no other ministry recognises youth in the same manner. This policy does no good for the same as it hardly suggests any concrete plan to convey its fundamental values to other ministries. It has a few general ‘instructions’ but no plans. How do we expect the other ministries to treat the youth in a better way if they do not even acknowledge the soul of NYP 2012? We cannot have a good future with such oxymoron in the system.

Interestingly the ‘Thrust Areas’ section of the policy picks few interesting points but is not able to suggest proper implementation policy. For instance in section 7.1- titled ‘Promotion of National Values, Social Harmony and National Unity’-, it acknowledges that it is important to instil a feeling of security among people from different religious and social background. But in the ‘Policy Intervention’ section of the same it has practically no suggestion to make! It says,

Policy interventions

a)      Initiate affirmative and positive action to ensure that our cherished national values are regularly fostered in all young people, especially among members of the large youth volunteer force working under the aegis of leading youth development agencies of the country.

b)      Take appropriate initiatives to prepare young people as crusaders of these values that are crucial not only for national harmony but also for instilling national identity. While macro-level action can set out broad policies and directions, it needs to be recognised that local level action can bring in better and more enduring results. Youth clubs and large volunteer force available with the youth development agencies can play a pivotal role in this endeavour.

With due respect to the makers of the policy, I want to ask one word question for both ‘a’ and ‘b’ of Policy Intervention: “How?”

Can using words like ‘initiate’ and ‘appropriate initiatives’ address serious issues of social inclusion, which also includes issues like ghettoization of different communities? How can one bring a young person from a ghetto area to the mainstream? It suggests ‘Youth Clubs’ can play a pivotal role. Shall I not consider this solution extremely ‘broad’ in its approach?

A proper solution demands proper research, which this policy lacks. For the same point it should have a detailed plan for different ministries (Ministry of Minority Affairs, Ministry of Tribal Affairs et cetera) to ‘initiate’ proper plans for the youth to join the mainstream. We cannot expect such a huge task to happen in vacuum, without the support of other ministries.

Another observation which one makes is for the focus areas it acknowledges. The NYP 2012 acknowledges, primarily, skill development and sports as its focus area. Not that I do not support sports, but I do not see any other more prominent issues given proper focus in the policy, although it talks about all the key issues concerning the youth of the country. But it is only to cover them for the heck of covering them as must be the customs of policy formations.

The policy, it seems, was made in haste. As a young citizen of the country I not only demand but deserve a better policy. I do not need 27 pages of theory alien to me. I need plans for my brethren across the country. I need a proper plan for Raju whom I met only once at my native village. I need a proper policy for Chotu and Aarif whom I have met numerous times. It’s high time we have issue driven policies in the country.

An, by the way, does any one of you know why the Youth Affairs minister has to be the Sports minister as well? Let me know if you have an answer.

Post By: Nihal Parashar

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Deconstructing the focus of the National Youth Policy

National  Youth Policy of India is supposed 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. 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. 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, but shouldn’t it also be addressing  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 reference to men alone.

When we look at the undercurrents of the policy, we find the focus area of the policy is concentrated around skill development and sports. It talks about other focus areas too, but is unable to suggest proper policy intervention. For instance in 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.

Policy intervention

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 that require an 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 hard work on part of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, but complex problems require solutions that are practical.

India’s youth face numerous problems and education is a major concern. The age bracket of 16 to 30 years comprises of 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 and it is difficult to even imagine how they can take care of tasks related to the youth across the country.

Towards the conclusion of the policy, you see a 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 a 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 practical/implementable policies with better implementation strategies.

Post By: Nihal Parashar

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