At 35, you may consider yourself young. The Indian government, however, may not think so anymore.
Aiming to scrap the existing norm of 13 to 35 years, the new draft youth policy unveiled on Thursday describes those in the age-group of 16 to 30 as youth. “This change has been proposed to realign the definition of youth with prevailing international definitions,” said youth affairs minister Ajay Maken.
While the UN defines youth as those in the age group of 15 to 24, the Commonwealth pegs it at 15 to 29.
Besides the Indian government, organisations such as the Indian Youth Congress and the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad consider those below the age of 35 as youth. While the youth affairs ministry allows those in the 15-35 age group to enrol in clubs under the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangthan, the National Youth Corps pegs the age category at 18-25.
The existing norm of 13-35 years puts half of India’s 1.2 billion people in the youth category. The new definition, if accepted, will cover 40% of Indians.By 2020, the average age of the Indian will be 29 years.
Maken said that as per the new definition, youth has been categorised into three sub-groups — 16-21 covering adolescents, 21-25 as those in the process of completing education, and 26-30 as persons who have largely settled down with jobs.
As issues regarding youth are not homogenous, the draft policy divides them into nine target groups —including gays and lesbians — and three priority groups, including young women and differently-abled.
“Gays and lesbians have never been accepted in our society because same-gender sex has always been treated as perverted and immoral behaviour,” the policy document says, asking the youth to play a crucial role in ensuring that they are accepted in society.
The policy also takes a dig at some of the existing policies, stating that government resources should not be limited to a handful of IITs and IIMs. The socio-cultural sector, including politics, should be included in the education syllabus, it adds.