First- time voters — aged between 18 and 19 years — alone account for 15.5 lakh voters in Rajasthan’s electorate.
Any political party aiming to win the upcoming assembly elections cannot afford to ignore the demands of the youth. And the youth want jobs. A bunch of youngsters shared their aspirations with Hindustan Times, which invited them for discussion in a first-of-its-kind initiative to build a public manifesto.
Employment topped their agenda. To begin with, they wanted political parties to draw up a blueprint in their manifestoes on creation of employment opportunities, entrepreneurship and business growth.
They said lack of opportunities in Rajasthan was leading to brain drain as the talented youngsters move to other states.
“Even before completing their graduation, almost every young engineer starts looking for jobs in Gujarat or the metro cities, as our state does not offer them enough opportunities,” said Jaydutt Sharma, finalyear BE student at Kautilya Engineering College, Jaipur.
“And those who cannot migrate are compelled to work here at low pay packages, which is very frustrating.”
The youngsters also told team HT that reservation should either be given to economically weaker sections from all castes or not at all.
“Reservation has created a divide in the minds of the youth and one can see caste ghettoes developing on campuses everywhere,” Sharma said.
“Political parties should come up with a plan to bridge this growing social divide in their poll manifesto. Quotas have created an alarming situation, even driving some students to suicide.”
Moreover, Navin Punia, a student of MA in Rajasthan University (RU), pointed out that parties should make sure that popular schemes that are announced – such as the unemployment allowance scheme – are actually implemented to benefit the population.
“Popular schemes are announced by the parties but they are not implemented effectively. Political parties must give the public a detailed plan of their schemes and should be held responsible if they betray the promises made in their manifesto,” Punia said.
ADD EDUCATION REFORMS TO THE AGENDA
The youth is also concerned about the quality of education in Rajasthan. Class-12 students Subham Paliwal and Vikas Singh raised the issue of incessant changes in the school curriculum in recent years.
They demanded that political parties include educational reforms in their manifesto. “Curriculum in schools should be decided on scientific lines and standard of government run schools needs to be raised,” said Paliwal.
“Political parties should come up with a plan to improve the quality of education, as it lays the foundation for the next generation.” They also wanted political parties to address the issue of corruption in the admission process. “Those who have money bypass the merit-based system and get admission easily. The qualification of their faculty is also usually kept under the wraps,” said Singh.
The youngsters were also concerned about the lack of transparency in sports. “Transparency in sports selection is another issue that political parties should include in their manifestoes,” said Ashish Mishra, an MA Student at RU.
“Sports not only give youth exposure at various levels but also provides employment opportunities. Hence, it is important that transparency is maintained in the selection of youth for teams in various games as well as the benefits and employment opportunities meant for sportspersons.”
Marks scored under the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (RBSE) should undergo a scaling process so that they are comparable to the marks scored under CBSE. RBSE students are lagging behind despite good performance in exams due to the strict marking system in the local board.