IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Empower the youth first

8th September, 2020 Editorial

Context:  The A focus on India’s youth is the first step towards self-reliance.


  • In today’s India, we can achieve that goal of self-reliance only if we enhance our citizens’ capabilities. Given our demographic composition, we must begin by empowering our youth.

Are we investing in our youth?

  • The 2014 National Youth Policy (NYP) defined youth as persons between 15 and 29 years. This cohort accounted for 27.5% of the population then.
  • According to the NYP report, the Central government spends about ₹2,710 per youth on education, skill development, employment, healthcare and food subsidies. The total amount is pegged at more than ₹90,000 crore.
  • Assuming that States spend an equal amount, the total investment in our youth would be under 1% of the GDP, hardly commensurate with their population and potential.


  • A World Bank report pegged the projected cost (read: loss) of not investing in children and youth at 4% of the GDP every year.
  • Of this, the costs of unemployment account for 0.6%. As of 2017-18, youth participation in India’s labour force was 38.3%.
  • Drawing from the 2018 State of Working India Report, we peg the youth unemployment rate to be at least 18.3% (3.47 crore youths).
  • About 30% of youth fall under the ‘neither in employment nor in education’ category and 33% of India’s skilled youth are unemployed.
  • Further, around 50 lakh youth are expected to be entering the workforce annually.
  • Following the COVID-19 lockdown, a loss of 14 crores jobs in April alone of which 2.7 crore concerned youth.

The way forward:

  • The aspirational younger generation born after 1991 invariably hold the key to India’s economic and political future.
  • India has just a decade’s time to seize the opportunity and realise this youth demographic dividend.
  • Therefore, it is an appropriate time to launch an Indian Youth Guarantee (IYG) programme, akin to the European Union Youth Guarantee (EU-YG) but tuned to our country’s context.

Youth Component Plan

  • At a time of fiscal stress, one way to allocate budgetary resources would be to create a Youth Component Plan, earmarking a specific percentage of funds under a separate head on the lines of the Special Component Plan for the Scheduled Castes and the Tribal Sub-Plan.
  • The Youth Component Plan would be formulated by States/Union Territories/Central Ministries to channelise flow of outlays and benefits proportional to the percentage of youth population based on sub-regional requirements.
  • IYG should not be just another budgetary scheme.
  • Its strategic goal should be to ensure that within a fixed time frame, young people graduating from college or losing a job either find a good quality job suited to their education and experience or acquire skills required to find a job through an apprenticeship.
  • An important aspect of IYG should be to rope in the district administration and local bodies for effective outcomes.
  • Existing youth schemes and skilling infrastructure need to be dovetailed and streamlined while leveraging industry to enable an in situ empowerment of youth.

Learning from MGNREGA

  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has been very effective in providing rural livelihood security and social protection.
  • Yet only about 4% of youth in the labour force have been impacted by it.
  • While an urban youth employment programme will be a new intervention, IYG needs to be implemented across the country to address youth unemployment particularly given the rapid structural changes in the economy.

How would such a guarantee identify the needs of the youth?

  • The Youth Development Index (YDI) in India serves as an advisory and monitory tool for youth development.
  • It helps recognise priority areas, gaps and alternative approaches specific to each State.
  • The index also packs a new dimension of social inclusion to assess the inclusiveness of societal progress due to prevalence of systemic inequalities.
  • In short, YDI can be revisited and deployed to play a vital role in crafting a region-specific IYG.
  • A focus on our youth is the first step towards self-reliance. It is time we summon the political will to guarantee our youth a viable future.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/empower-the-youth-first/article32546714.ece?homepage=true