By Mayank Jain:
We are a promising nation. We promise everything that we can or we cannot possibly do, to just sound forthright and competent, but unfortunately we forget to act. Our action conveniently gets leftÂ out of the array of things we do, because we are so busy promising or gasping at promises or at times, asking for more promises.Â India is set to become the world’s youngest nation in the next 6 years, but we stammer before calling our top institutions among the best in the world and it is equally hard for us to accept the fact that many ofÂ the alumni from these colleges simply leave the country looking for better work opportunities; our patriotism and jingoism take a sharp hit the moment we hear a critique of the country that we have all loved to hate every day.
The new government riding high on expectations will find its own promises as obstacles in its path as it goes around fulfilling them. Unusually high standards were promisedÂ to a country used to mediocrity and youth of the nation is eager to see them come to life.Â As I pen this down, Twitter is abuzz with discussions on the Railway Budget. Because of the promised focus on efficiency, rants seem to have been silenced. But there is a chance that disappointment will set in when these promises remain just promises, without any action.
Youth is the largest and the most crucial demographic of the country. Not only because of the sheer numbers but because of the fact that finally, the Facebook generation has sprung to action and expects the government to do something for them that goes beyond promises and headlines of national dailies. Here are 4 things that the youth is expecting from the new budget:
1. Institutes beyond IITs: I can’t emphasise on this enough. Seeing parents who aspire that their children grow up to be students at IITs or IIMs is as unfortunate as it gets for a nation of 1.2 billion. We have as many avenues but there is hardly any respectable instituteÂ for training. People are stuck in the rut and this is probably why we have surplus of engineers who are unfit for jobs, and sadly, the same colleges lack faculties as well.
More spending on education is imminent but it isn’t clear if it is on the mind of our Finance Minister. However, from whatever little we spend on education, efforts need to be made to establish institutions for streams other than engineering and management and open up a world of opportunities for the creative minds. Why can’t we have a national university for writing and poetry?
2. Skill development and jobs: This is as simple as it gets. 12 million Indians join the capable workforce everyÂ yearÂ and most of them remain underemployed if not unemployed. This budget session is the right opportunity for the government to appropriate funds towards skill development and to revamp the National Employment Service and stop it from becoming the victim of public frustration before it is too late. We all remember what happened to IRCTC. Fun fact: The website of Employment Service quotes a 2005 statistic on the home page. That was 9 years back.
3. Food without taxes: Going out to eat, drink and party is becoming a big part of our lives, especially in the cities. Younger generation suffers the most because of multiple taxes on simple food items which end up burning a big hole in their pockets. The budget must not become another blow on their personal budgets. Government should curb inflation in the longer term but immediate efforts to arrest food prices will be welcomed by a larger community of people and not just the youth.
4. Affordable healthcare: When it comes to healthcare, youth is probably the most aware and yet the most unrepresented in the health plans of the government. While teenage pregnancy rates in India are at an all-time high, there is a stronger case for the government to start focusing on awareness and action campaigns tailored for the younger generation. A substantial appropriation should be made to provide healthcare that goes beyond hospitals and works on prevention of diseases.Â Rebates on medical health plans will be a welcome move.
The government might still be new but it has no time to waste if the damage has to be reversed;Â screws of the economy need proper oiling. There are many promises in the manifesto of the single largest party in lower house of the Parliament at this moment but their will to go beyond words is what youth is waiting for. Only the budget presentation will reveal how much ground the party is able to cover in their maiden budget speech.