By Ranjit K. Sahu
The increasing youth population has been projected as a major boost the growth of India. However like all other population related parameters, the burgeoning youth population has implications both positive and negative for the socio-economic and cultural aspects of the society and nation. Increased unemployment, cut throat competition political instability, reservation and presence of similar level of talent and expertise among many would pose a great challenge to help establish the entire youth population in venerable positions for families, governments and other organizations; the amount of expendable resources being a limiting factor as well.
Every generation has passed through the phase of youth and has been subjected to pressure from peer society and family for performance and accumulation of assets. However, there has been a perceptible change in the attitude of the present generation of youth compared to those of yesteryears. While globalization and a collapse of social structure can be held accountable to some extent for this degeneration, the loss of the concept of education is one that cannot be overlooked. The changing face of education from being the process that inculcated moral, social and cultural values in addition to academic competence in individuals to merely turning into a process related to stamping certain preconceived competencies in individuals has left the very purpose of education defeated. Along with this the availability of easy money, inundation of electronic gadgets , increased pampering by protective parents and improving financial status and educational investments by parents has made the youth vulnerable to superfluous achievements.
The emphasis on certificates rather than individual character has bred a generation of impatient men and women who look to shortcuts and have no qualms of adopting any means foul or fair to achieve their targets. This ultimately has resulted in a situation where the social context has shifted from interdependence and survival to each living for himself. While the immediate consequences are not obvious, this would lead to the degeneration of an entire generation due to the presence of isolated and reclusive individuals with low patience, low emotional intelligence and an inability to form cohesive social structures. While such a morphogenesis would affect the generation that is progressing to old age in terms of lack of care and nurture during their sunset years, it would also affect the present youth as they would find their own old age as isolated and confined.
Thus, both government and non government organizations need to start to look into development of the youth into normal social creatures who sustain the nation rather than as mechanical entities that are exploited both by the corporate sector as well as government to perform as production units and deliver their outputs in terms of economy.
Directionless ventures of youth due to their high energy and vigor, unlimited dreams and ambitions but without mentorship and proper support from nodal agencies both government and non-government is bound to have long term repercussions for both the youth themselves and the society and nation as a whole. This necessitates that programs be implemented to streamline this abundant resource and find means to identify and cater to the needs of each individual without forcing every Tom, Dick and Harry into the same path. Utilizing an individual’s strength to help him/her achieve their maximum in terms of professional growth and motivating them to overcome their weaknesses would be the corner stone of such strategies.
Though the importance of formal education in the lives of youth cannot be ignored, it is important to also look into the possibilities of developing the non formal and informal education sectors and place due importance on vocational trainings. This will partly resolve the issue of unemployment; simultaneously youth should be encouraged to take up individual entrepreneurship based on their interests. This will help them to use their energy and creativity and expand the economy. Moreover the concept of “dignity of labor” which is in practice in the western world needs to be inculcated into the social conscience. This will prevent many youth undertaking jobs in sectors other than engineering, medical and management from developing an inferior complex and working towards fulfillment of their ambition.
While in the western world the importance of nurturing talent on an individual basis has been long recognized and each individual is mentored to bring out the best in him, in India this type of personalized mentoring is absent for all practical purposes. The present education system forces many students to take up trades and specialization more out of compulsions and family considerations rather than their aptitude for it. This results in not only decreasing the efficiency of the person in the field they are trained but at times denies a more deserving candidate who could not afford the same training due to financial factors. It is important to note that while the tendency is to focus on the career, equal investment needs to be placed on the wholesome development of the youth into responsible citizens by caring for their personality development. We cannot create a society that is unsustainable by converting youth into machines, however efficient they might be in terms of economic productivity!
To prevent the emergence of a generation that is self centered and merely performance oriented with little respect for social norms, responsibilities and humanitarian values, it is important that grooming be begun from school days by helping children develop a healthy emotional quotient. It is important that when possible individual mentoring is provided for students with learning disabilities as well as those with extraordinary capacities so their talents are developed. Finally the society as a whole should wake up to the realization that its very existence is dependent on responsible youth and not mechanized individuals. It is time to invoke certain aspects of traditional education (that has sustained the civilization) instead of blindly aping the west. These strategies require modification of the mission, vision and policy changes being formulated for the youth development.
Dr. Ranjit K. Sahu is a Research professional and freelance writer with over a decade of experience in biomedical research , currently located in Virginia, USA. His interests include education, environment, sustainability and health care in the underprivileged regions of the world.