THE RECENT killing of Prof Sabharwal in Ujjain has brought student politics in focus. While the growing campus violence has been widely condemned, the malaise is linked to a larger issue, that is waywardness of our youth who account for nearly 60 per cent of the country’s population.
If the educational and job requirements of such a big chunk of population is not taken care of, the country may start sliding back from the path of progress.
We are living in an open world thanks to modern technology and electronic media. While urban India is witnessing development, the process is rather slow in semi-urban and vast hinterland.
One reason could be our orthodox thinking that western education would ruin Indian culture and tradition. But we should not forget that great scientists and mathematicians like Aryabhata had exposed the western world to our ancient knowledge. It is this very knowledge that has come back to us in the form of computers and other modern technologies.
Over 70 per cent of the country’s population lives in villages. And since most of the avenues of employment generation are in cities, a large number of villagers migrate towards them in search of a livelihood. As a result of it, cities are getting choked.
Unemployment and lack of marketable skills are directly related. As per statistics of the Directorate General of Employment and Training, the percentage of rural workers possessing marketable skills is only 10 per cent in men and 6.3 per cent in women.
The government, therefore, needs to chalk-out a plan for imparting skills to rural youth who are urgently required in agro and other industries. CAPART can be used to create a cadre of young professionals in villages with necessary skills for income generation.
Skilled youth could become a friend, facilitator and guide to the village community. In fact, we should have more institutions such as the Rural Management Institute, Anand.
One person who has tried to make a difference in the rural scenario is Magsaysay award recipient Rajendra Singh of Tarun Bharat Sangh, Rajasthan. He faced lot of resistance from some selfish politicians and government officials who were unable to siphon off funds, as the waterman was creating awareness among people, especially youth, about their rights.
We have institutions such as the Nehru Yuvak Kendra, which is responsible for the training and employment of youths. But if one looks at their achievements under the Youth Club Development Programme, we find that in 2005-06, it fixed a target of 1,500 clubs for almost 40 crore youths of the country.
However, only 1,026 clubs could be constituted. This clearly shows that more sincere efforts are needed to enable our youth to play a meaningful part in nation building.
What we need is a coherent and effective youth policy that could arrest the deterioration on our campuses and give direction to youth, provide facilities for skill training and generate employment.
I would like to appeal to thinking people to take time off and reflect on these issues, interact with the media, politicians, intelligentsia and freely express your views.
After all, people make nations, not politicians or bureaucrats. (The author is the Lok Sabha member from Rajgarh)