Bilal Ahmad Dar
There is mounting evidence to prove that lack of investment and an indifference to the needs of youth incur a high cost in terms of lost development opportunities, ill health and social, physical, mental disruption. And it means failure to fully support our present “asset” as well as next generation of parents. There is no doubt that the youth have been at the centre of socio-economic and socio-political changes taking place in Kashmir and should such a young population be regarded as a burden or an asset? I believe that our demographic situation provides our young with an extraordinary opportunity to compete in whatever sphere they chose. We have an opportunity to turn our very large and very young people into a productive asset. That could contribute significantly to the economic growth and poverty alleviation. Both the government and society must join their hands or this nation-building task and concentrate on protecting the emotional and physical health of the youth, their skill-based education, and provision of recreational facilities, employment, and above all incorporation of self-confidence, motivation and courage to move forward.
The most impounding problem our youth is facing at present is frustration. This monster is eating up our youth slowly and gradually. The youth in state don’t have jobs, means of healthy entertainment, health resources and awareness. They say the youth is like running water. It makes it own ways. The frustration as a result of multitude of problems is increasing day by day. This is the right time to look into the problems of youth and give them viable solutions otherwise it will be too late in the day. We need to bear in mind that the “destiny of nations is in the hands of youth.”
As for education of our youth, there is a feeling that it should be more productive and progressive in terms of its application and usage. There is no formal guidance for students in logical selection of a specific course of study. There is no unified, single education system in the state. We have three to four education systems running at parallel levels. Education does not mean enrolment at universities and colleges. Rather it means evaluating the skills and knowledge of those individuals who acquired it, and the adequacy of this education in fulfilling their needs. Education means exploring alternate routes, both formal and informal, to knowledge and skill building. In Kashmir particularly it means putting the right persons to the right tracks. Most of our employed youth are misfits in their present positions and employment. They have been yoked to these unwanted engagements either by society, parents or their circumstances. Somebody who wanted to become a lawyer and was sent to a medical college against his wish cannot give the best output as a doctor at all. We need proper education counselling system in the state if we require a maximum output from our youth. We don’t have latest official figures but almost six lakh jobless. One government launches a couple of youth promotion and youth investment schemes; the next one slates all the previous programmes and starts a new. The ultimate sufferers in this exercise are the youth.
One of the important step to be taken by the Government of Kashmir, is revision and revival of a national youth policy which must be to aspire to create situations whereby youth stand educated, employed and free from drug abuse, frustration, parochialism, sectarianism and other numerous evils which have jolted the foundations of our society We have to prepare our youth to face the challenges of the time with unshakable courage and youthful confidence.
(The author is a research scholar at Business & Management department Jaipur National University. Views are his own)