Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] India: Empower the youth first

By 2020, India's population is expected to become the world's youngest, this means growing number of India's youth need the right educational infrastructure to develop skills and adequate opportunities to get employed or become entrepreneurs.
By IASToppers
September 08, 2020


  • Introduction
  • Definition of Youth
  • Indian Youth Scenario
  • Government’s Efforts
  • Youth Development Index
  • Suggestions
  • The way forward
  • Conclusion

India: Empower the youth first

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In today’s India, we can achieve that goal of self-reliance only if we enhance our citizens’ capabilities. By 2020, more than 500 million Indian citizens will be under 25 years of age and more than two thirds of the population will be eligible to work, we must begin by empowering our youth.

Definition of Youth:

  • Youth are defined as those aged 15 to 29 in the national youth policy (NYP-2014). This age-group constitutes 27.5% of India’s population.
  • In their report on “Youth in India 2017,” the Central Statistics Office (CSO 2017) defined the age group of 15–34 years as youth.
  • The United Nations referred youth as those in the age group of 15 to 24 years.

Indian Youth Scenario:

  • Following the COVID-19 lockdown, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) estimated a loss of 14 crore jobs in April alone of which 2.7 crore concerned youth.
  • As of 2017-18, youth participation in India’s labour force was 38.3%.
  • As per the 2018 State of Working India Report, 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.
  • These numbers, have landed India in uncharted turbulent economic waters.

Government’s Efforts:

  • According to the NYP report, the Central government spends about ₹2,710 per youth on education, skill development, employment, healthcare and food subsidies.
  • Assuming that States spend an equal amount, the total investment in Indian youth would be under 1% of the GDP.
  • A World Bank report pegged the projected cost of not investing in children and youth at 4% of the GDP every year.

Youth Development Index:

  • 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.
  • YDI can be revisited and deployed to play a vital role in crafting a region-specific youth schemes.


  • At a time of fiscal stress, one way to allocate budgetary resources would be to create a Youth Component Plan 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.
  • Young people graduating from college or losing a job to their education and experience or acquire skills required to find a job through an apprenticeship.
  • 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, rural youth employment should be instituted alongside MGNREGA.

The way forward:

  • The aspirational younger generation born after 1991 invariably hold the key to India’s economic and political future.
  • For India, this is an appropriate time to launch an Indian Youth Guarantee (IYG) programme.
  • IYG is similar to the European Union Youth Guarantee (EU-YG) but tuned to our country’s context.
  • EU-YG emerged in 2010 at a time when youth unemployment rates were soaring above 20%.
  • An IYG initiative, with statutory backing, can function as a facilitatory framework for ensuring gainful and productive engagement of youth.
  • IYG’s strategic goal should be to ensure that within a fixed time frame and to rope in the district administration and local bodies for effective outcomes.
  • IYG needs to be implemented across the country to address youth unemployment particularly given the rapid structural changes in the economy


Existing youth schemes and skilling infrastructure need to be dovetailed and streamlined while leveraging industry to enable an empowerment of youth. A focus on youth is the first step towards self-reliance. It is time India summon the political will to guarantee our youth a viable future.

Mains 2020 Editorial Notes

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